Alum named one of 40 best professors under 40

Trey Crumbie

A WKU alumnus received an international award at the tender age of 35 for his research.

Jeremy Kees, who is currently an associate professor of marketing at Villanova University, was named one of “the 40 Most Outstanding B-School Professors Under 40 In the World” according to, a website dedicated to building a community for those interested in graduate business school education. 

Kees obtained his master’s of business from WKU in 2001. 

Kees, who conducts research relating to marketing and advertising and other fields, said he finds it fascinating.

“It’s interesting to me to try to understand what types of features of advertisements are most effective and resonate best with the consumers,” Kees said.

Kees was awarded the honor in part due to his “research on cigarette warning labels and anti-smoking interventions that played a key role in the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to add graphic images to cigarette packages,” according to Poets and Quants. 

In one particular study, Kees’ research with the FDA involved exposing adolescents to graphic images of the consequences of smoking and getting their response. Kees said the graphic images were more powerful than the text-only warnings currently on cigarette packages.

“They actually evoke high levels of emotion, specifically fear,” Kees said. “And as a result of that high level of negative emotion…it influences consumers’ thoughts of quitting and their intentions to quit smoking.”

Kees started his research in 2004 while he was earning his doctorate at the University of Arkansas and it is ongoing.

His awards and titles do not stop there. Kees currently sits on the Food and Drug Administration Risk Communication Advisory Committee, which advises the FDA on how to communicate risk and benefits of FDA-regulated products to consumers. He has also won the Center for Global Leadership Research Excellence Award from 2009 to 2011. Kees has also been published in numerous academic journals such as the “American Journal of Public Health” and “Journal of Marketing Research.” 

Kees said it has been great accomplishing so much at a young age and credits much of his success to those who have helped him in his academic career. 

“It’s been pretty exciting,” Kees said. “Really, when I think about my success at an early age, it really goes back to the mentors I’ve had and the professors that have had an influence on my life, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student.”

One of those professors was Ron Milliman, a faculty member in the marketing department of WKU from 1985-2012.

“He was an excellent student,” Milliman said. “He was low-key, relatively quiet, but very studious.”

Milliman said he was overwhelmed with delight when he found out that Kees was named one of the most outstanding professors in the world.

“I could not possibly be more proud of anybody than I am him,” Milliman said. “He’s just been tremendously successful.” 

Another one of those professors was Rick Shannon, who currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of Marketing and Sales.

“Jeremy was one of those students that you always love to get because he loved to learn,” Shannon said.

It’s not all work all the time for Kees. Kees played basketball collegiately while he was an undergraduate at Belmont.

“I still play a lot of basketball,” Kees said. “I’ll play in a lunchtime hoops game here on campus at Villanova and I also lead the faculty intramural team.”

Kees said he acknowledges that WKU’s MBA program is trying to gain more attention and is happy he graduated from the program.

“I’m just really excited that as an alum I can represent what they’re trying to do well,” Kees said.