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Extra income; from Conway to Magnolia, college professors enhance their salaries and teaching skills with consulting work.

"OK, says the economics professor, turning from the chalkboard to his students and waving a piece of chalk in the air.

One student whispers, "Is that a maze of numbers he just wrote or do those figures actually make sense?"

The professor continues, "When we look at these statistics, what should be the annual rate of return?"

His voice echoes through the classroom as the students fumble through their notes, looking for an answer.

Economics can seem an impossible subject to grasp for college students. Any business owner can tell you that without real business experience, economic theories and statistical analyses might as well be a foreign language.

As the professor waits for a response, he brushes chalk dust from the sleeve of his gray suit. He must maintain his appearance for a business appointment later in the day.

These students are lucky.

The long pause tells the professor the class is stumped. So he follows the question with an anecdote, a real business experience that helps the students understand the concept he is attempting to teach.

When does a college professor get the chance to learn about the real world?

This professor is like many across the state. He supplements his salary by operating a consulting business on the side. By utilizing his expertise in the business world, he can stay in touch with private enterprise and then transfer that knowledge to students.

"It's good experience for those of us who live in the ivory tower," says Don Market, a professor of economics at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Market and a partner, UAF Professor Phil Taylor, have operated Economic Analysis Associates for more than two decades. Market says there is a demand for consultants statewide. He calls consulting a "fairly standard part of the academic scene."

The Benefits

The three Hendrix College professors who are partners in the Economic & Financial Consulting Group Inc. of Conway say the benefits of their consulting work are two-fold. The experience enhances their teaching ability. And it gives their incomes a boost.

Ralph Scott Jr., Keith Berry and Lyle Rupert are professors of economics and business at Hendrix.

"Let's be honest here," says Scott, who has a doctorate in economics from Tulane University at New Orleans. "The pay in academics generally is less than in other professions. The opportunity to bridge that gap is hard to pass up."

The professors' consulting incomes amount to about 50 percent of what they make at Hendrix. The three men work with some of Arkansas' most prestigious law firms. Those include the Rose Law Firm, Wright Lindsey & Jennings and Wilson Engstrom Corum & Dudley of Little Rock.

"We have new clients come to us regularly," Scott says. "We are from somewhat diverse educational backgrounds, so we can offer services encompassing a wide range of disciplines."

Scott, who specializes in theoretical economics and mathematics, consults on personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Berry, who has a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn., worked for the state Public Service Commission for a decade. His extensive background in dealing with utilities attracts clients.

Rupert, who has a master's of business administration from the University of Chicago, is a certified public accountant with an extensive knowledge of computers and statistics. He specializes in financial statement analysis.

Most of EFCG's work involves research for lawsuits and subsequent expert testimony in state and federal court.

Combining Their Talents

The partners work individually on many cases. But they sometimes combine their expertise on larger projects.

EFCG's largest case was a liability suit involving a government-guaranteed loan. A Little Rock manufacturer of church furniture charged a bank, the loan's trustee, with misappropriating funds. The Conway consulting group was selected by the law firm that represented the manufacturing company to estimate damages.

Rupert analyzed company financial statements.

Berry estimated lost sales.

Scott finalized the estimate.

All three men were required to testify in federal court. As a result of their work, the bank was required to pay millions in compensatory and punitive damages.

"That case was an excellent example of how we can work together," Berry says.

Although the trio's diversity can work to their advantage, all graduated from Hendrix and eventually returned to their alma mater to teach. That shared background leads to a close working relationship.

So how do these professors find time to teach?

"School is our priority," Scott says. "If we reached the point we felt the consulting was interfering, we would cut back."

The firm can handle more than a dozen projects at once. Each partner devotes about 10 hours per week to consulting.

"We seldom miss class," Scott says. "In the Hendrix trimester system, classes meet four days per week. The day off is at the discretion of the professor."

An occasional class can be rescheduled when a court appearance interferes. The majority of their preparation for court appearances is done at night and on weekends.

"We all could find jobs that pay more money," Rupert says. "But in choosing a career, there are many things to consider other than money."

Ralph Boaz, a professor of economics and finance at Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia, has been consulting since 1974.

Boaz, whose consulting work accounts for almost half his income, sums up the feelings of most college professors who consult.

"There is a lot more to the real world than what's in textbooks," he says.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Feb 24, 1992
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