France Bélanger, R.B. Pamplin Professor and Tom and Daisy Byrd Senior Faculty Fellow in the Pamplin College of Business Department of Accounting and Information Systems, has been named as a University Distinguished Professor.

The University Distinguished Professorship is Virginia Tech’s preeminent faculty rank, bestowed by the Board of Visitors on faculty members whose scholarly attainments have received national and/or international recognition. Bélanger was awarded the title at the board’s March 21 meeting.

Bélanger, who joined Virginia Tech in 1997, is also an affiliate faculty member of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology and of the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech.

Her research focuses on digital interactions among individuals, businesses, and governments and the related information security and privacy issues, with the goal of obtaining a greater understanding of the complex phenomena at the intersection of humans, technology, and society.

“Professor Bélanger is an influential researcher and leader in information systems and technology management, having earned many distinguished honors and recognitions throughout her career,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “One of the top 100 most cited information systems researchers, she continues to make innovative contributions to her field and others through her research on information privacy and cybersecurity.”

Accounting and information systems department head John J. "Jack" Maher noted that Bélanger is a pioneer in research on digital interactions. Her work in the mid-2000s focused on the protection of children from online exploitation, the findings of which were widely distributed to parents to assist them with practical knowledge.

One of her current research projects examines the information privacy tensions and decisions that have arisen in families in an environment dominated by COVID-19 concerns, including the privacy concerns that prevent widespread use of contact tracing apps in fighting COVID-19 transmission.

Ranked in the top 1 percent of information systems researchers in the world, Bélanger has authored or co-authored more than 200 papers and book chapters. Her work has been published in the top information systems journals and garnered major awards.

She has received more than $1.3 million in research funding from 16 grants, including three from the National Science Foundation. “This is exceptional when compared to any of our peer or aspirant business schools, primarily because business school faculty typically do not receive grant funding,” said Maher.

Her international recognitions for research excellence include the INFORMS ISS Design Science Award, the Hoeber Excellence in Research Award, the IEEE Education Society Research Excellence Award, and, recently, the Lifetime Academic Achievement Award from the International Institute for Applied Knowledge Management. She also received the prestigious Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 2015.

Bélanger has served as senior editor, associate editor, and/or guest editor at five of the top six journals in information systems. She taught and did research in Portugal as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair and worked in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand as a recipient of various fellowships.

At Virginia Tech, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses and has been honored with department teaching excellence awards. “Very importantly, Professor Bélanger has been an outstanding teacher and mentor to our information systems Ph.D. students,” Maher said, noting that many of these students have gone on to develop highly successful academic careers.

He added that as the department has not enrolled any doctoral students in information systems in recent years, Bélanger has guided such students at universities abroad. She chaired Ph.D. committees for three students, two in Ethiopia and one in Portugal — “successfully combining teaching, mentoring, and outreach.”

Bélanger’s efforts to help nurture the development of doctoral programs in information systems in these and other countries, Maher said, are among her many service contributions to the department, university, and profession, which include several leadership roles on university-level committees.

“Dr. Bélanger exemplifies excellence in teaching, mentoring, research, and service to the community,” said Maher, who noted that he has known her as a colleague in the department for 23 years, including the past five as department head.

“Her work as a professor and researcher has had profound impacts on individual students, knowledge in her field, and on the communities with which she has been involved.”

Bélanger earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce at McGill University and a Ph.D. in business administration, information systems, and decision sciences at the University of South Florida.

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