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The EKU Chautauqua Lecture Series returns for the 2020-2021, but in a different format than ever before. This year's lectures will be held virtually-only. 

The 2020-21 live streaming Virtual Chautauqua Lecture Series at Eastern Kentucky University will be devoted to interdisciplinary exploration of the themes, "Balance/Resilience" (continued from last year) + "Dealing with Data: Information, Influence and Interpretation" (new for this year). Speakers and presenters include a host of leading scholars and prominent figures in the fields of mathematics, data analytics, finance, history, politics, philosophy, media studies, cultural studies, literature, psychology and anthropology. Unfortunately, owing to public health concerns, we will not be able to host our traditional National Juried Art Exhibition, but it will return for next year. In the meantime, join us at all our live streaming events for another exciting year of stimulating ideas, eye-opening explorations and engaging conversations.

The lecture series begins this week with one of EKU's own professors, Dr. Zek Eser. "Tracking the Virus: Lessons from Data Analytics."  YouTube live stream link: 

Dr. Eser is an associate professor of finance in the Accounting, Finance and Information Systems Department at Eastern Kentucky University. He was born in Turkey and completed his BBA in Economics at the prestigious Bosphorus University, Istanbul before then earning his Master’s in Economics at Boston College, where his mentor, internationally known economist Joe Peek, persuaded Eser to join him at the University of Kentucky and to accept a position as his graduate assistant. Dr. Eser then went on to earn his Ph.D in Finance at UK.

Those who follow Dr. Eser on Facebook know how thorough, sophisticated and helpful his data analyses of the ongoing pandemic have been, posting hundreds of charts and graphs and often predicting trends and results well in advance with great precision. Eser loves number crunching—and he also loves to teach. In effect, he became a teacher at 8 years old, when he realized that by teaching his friends the concepts he was also trying to learn, he could greatly improve his own comprehension. "While I am teaching, I am learning," he says, an attitude that informs his style and approach to this day.

Dr. Eser uses all kinds of innovative methods to engage and challenge students. He created a Jeopardy game. In it, students choose their categories and compete as contestants. When he asks a student to solve a problem, the student must show the steps he used to arrive at a solution. With an extra twist: students must also declare their confidence level. Being confident and wrong can get you into negative score territory pretty quickly!

Eser’s ingenious games and quirky assignments have another purpose. On the backside, Dr. Eser uses the quantitative data gleaned from the activities to measure how effectively he taught the material. He makes adjustments in his lectures and assignments based on the data.

Finance requires a mathematical mind, and Dr. Eser arranges assignments to maximize mathematical thinking. His students must use Excel programming to calculate solutions.  "I want my students to have a realistic view of what will be expected of them when they enter the workforce," Eser said. "Companies used to have big training budgets and were able to send employees to expensive conferences. After the downturn in 2008, that was no longer the case. Employers want college graduates to come into the workforce ready to analyze complex problems with little or no additional training."

Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, Eser remarked, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

The Cuatauqua lecture series is sponsored by the Department of Accounting, Finance and Information Systems, the College of Business and Technology and the Honors Program. It is operated by the EKU Honors Program and housed in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.