“Why I Teach” with Dennis Marquardt

Dr. Dennis Marquardt

Dr. Dennis Marquardt, Assistant Professor of Management and Director of the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership, is one of the great examples in COBA of a well-developed, strong, and Christ-like individual. He says, “I often laugh at the thought of telling my 20 year old self that one day he would be a college professor. The idea of being a professor was not even in the realm of my thought space when I graduated from college. My plan was to work a year in a business-related job and try to get into law school. Instead, for some reason, as an organizational communication major, I ended up getting hired for a tax and compliance job at Bankers Trust (which was soon acquired by Deutsche Bank). I really enjoyed the work I did for DB and started an MBA program with plans to continue my business career.”

Dr. Marquardt does well to share his experiences in the classroom and apply the class concepts to his failures and his accomplishments. The humility and grace that he shows earns him the highest respect from his students to his coworkers. Part of that is an incredible amount of faith that he shows through his actions and choices. “I’ve always prayed heavily for each career path I’ve been presented with and asked a lot of advice from others to get a wiser and more well-rounded faith-based perspective. It’s usually when I look in the rear-view mirror that I see God’s direction in my journey most clearly. Most of all, I am overwhelmed by His grace and mercy for the many times I’ve failed and/or chosen the wrong path (and that’s happened more than I’d like to admit).“

Marquardt teaching at Leadership Summit

When asked if and how his faith plays a role in his teaching he was enthusiastic to talk about how he sees God working through COBA. This was his response: “Absolutely. As a management professor, I see the role of “manager” as an incredibly noble calling. The research is quite conclusive regarding the significant impact a supervisor has on the subjective well-being and overall quality of life of his or her subordinates. What an incredible opportunity management is, then, for people of faith to live out the servant life promoted by Christ. I think much of the Human Relations movement in management is not only conducive to but also indirectly (and sometimes directly) draws from the characters and virtues found in the teachings and life of Jesus. One of my priorities is to make these connections evident in the classroom and to help students see that faith does impact our careers and should create cycles of virtue in the lives of employees and customers alike.”

Dr. Marquardt responded with this wisdom when asked what he has learned since being at COBA: “ACU and COBA values relationships and creates settings that allow for a more holistic approach to learning that spans beyond the four walls of the classroom. I think this is one of the key differentiators for ACU and it provides a mutual learning environment for professors and students. Not only do I get to facilitate learning but I am also challenged and sharpened by my students as I see them wrestling with new ideas and living and working out their own faith.”

Dennis and Monique Marquardt

Final Words: “Early in my teaching career I became deeply convicted about the intrinsic value potential of each and every class session. Each time students come into a classroom with any instructor I think there is something almost sacred about the possibilities. I was recently reminded of a poem by former longtime President of Morehouse College and spiritual mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Benjamin E. Mays that conveys this point:

I have only just a minute,

Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.

Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.

But it’s up to me

  to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it.

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute,

but eternity is in it.

Southwest Airlines at ACU

 

As part of the COBA Vision, Mission, and Values, we seek to inspire, equip, and connect Christian business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. This past September, the strength of that connection was on full display as ACU alumni that work for Southwest Airlines came to visit campus – something they have done for the past several years.

The Southwest Airlines representatives spent time connecting with students, providing insight on resume-building, and highlighting internship opportunities within the SWA organization. Among those representatives were Laurie Barnett (’90), Managing Director, Communications & Outreach, Katie Coldwell (’00), Communications Director and recipient of the 2019 ACU Distinguished Alumni Citation, and Chris Grubbs (’95), Program Manager. Grubbs said that Southwest’s visits to ACU help to “Build alumni support and give graduates an opportunity to work for the best airline in the world”. Grubbs went on to share that a reason that SWA is so eager to reach out to ACU students is because the SWA company culture aligns so closely with ACU’s. Southwest holds the golden rule “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” in the highest regard and runs their business with that principle in mind, which is evident through their hospitality and customer service.

With that in mind, SWA encouraged students to apply for internships and jobs with them to continue growing their customer friendly culture. While technical knowledge is important, Southwest emphasized that their focus tends to be on hiring for the right personality fit because technical components can be learned, but who you are shapes who the company is. Because the company’s foundations revolve around a servant’s heart, reflected in the personalities and actions of their employees, Southwest likes to have ACU alumni travel back to campus and share their experience with students who they believe demonstrate the same type of servant leadership. 

Tim Johnston, Assistant Dean, shared his perspective on working for SWA. “Southwest Airlines is a company that believes if they take care of their people, their people will take care of their customers, and their customers will take care of their shareholders. We had seven ACU alumni come to campus to help ACU students learn about Southwest and to encourage our students to apply for internships with the company.”

Johnston went on to say, “SWA is a well respected company and they don’t have any problems fielding thousands of applicants for each internship opening. A recent graduate told her SWA story saying that she started applying for internships in October before finally receiving an interview in March. She consistently monitored the SWA career site and did not get discouraged when she was not offered an interview for several of the openings she pursued. Students walked away with a good understanding of the challenges associated with getting an opportunity to work with SWA. At the same time, they gained insight into qualities that will help their application standout. Finally, they have seen first hand the benefit of an ACU education. Our alumni made these two days happen. Their dedication to their alma mater, to Southwest Airlines, and their belief that the two organizations have matching values was the driver behind these two successful days on the ACU campus.”

Skyler Seidman, marketing major from Coppell, TX, finds ACU connections to businesses like Southwest Airlines beneficial to his professional development. The resume help that the SWA representatives provided was an influential part in Skyler’s interest in the company. This guidance helps students like Skyler see what experience and preparation they need to help find their place in a 60,000 employee, world-class company like Southwest Airlines. The SWA representatives expressed that this was a great opportunity for them to give back to their alma mater and help young professionals prepare to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the real world, creating career opportunity paths. Many thanks to our ACU alums at Southwest Airlines for sharing their time and talent with our students.

 

Throwback Thursday with Katie Wick

Assistant Professor of Management Sciences, Katie Wick, has been a highly valued member of the ACU College of Business for the past four years, teaching economics, mentoring students, and conducting research. Our Throwback Thursday series continues this week, as we look back at Wick’s time in college. Dr. Wick attended the University of Virginia and was highly involved in everything from acapella groups to studying abroad. We asked Dr. Wick to reflect on her college experiences.

 

What is your best memory from college?

“Most of my best memories from college center around the friends I spent the most time with, my acapella singing group. We got the chance to be an integral part of campus life and meet people from all over the world. We also recorded two albums together and performed all over several states. These women make up the core of my strongest memories at UVA.”

 

What is your best advice for college students?

“Get involved on campus! The organizations I had the chance to be a part of made all the difference in my college experience. They also helped shape the friendships that held me up when my life was crumbling during my dad’s fight with terminal cancer. Study abroad! Spending time in another culture for an extended period of time will truly change your perspectives. Going abroad during college is especially important because these years are the time in life when traveling is both impactful and easy (for example, taking 4 kids to Italy sounds really hard right now).”

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?  

“Give yourself grace. God has spoken words of great love and worth over you that cannot be taken away by grades, failures, or any bad decision. You are a treasure and truly beloved. ”

“Why I Teach” With Andy Little

Some of the most incredible people in this world are influential because of how they have chosen to react to what life has given them. We all go through life’s highs and lows and do our best to learn from each experience. Often times, we look at certain figures in our life and think of them as more than human in terms of being incapable of making mistakes. This is an interesting misconception, since it is because of their life experiences that they have become the incredible people that they are. We were able to talk to Dr. Andy Little, Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration and Management Sciences professor, about how some of those experiences brought him to where he is now. 

“My father was a biology professor here at ACU, so I always had in the back of my mind that I might teach at a university someday, but I didn’t have a defined plan. I left ACU and went straight to law school, and my goal after law school was to practice law. Teaching at a university bounced around in my mind from time to time, but I was too busy trying to establish myself as a lawyer to give much thought to a career change. The career change and entry into academics happened almost accidentally in 2010, when I wasn’t really looking for a job at ACU. The old business law professor at ACU left for another university that spring, and the Management Sciences department chair sent out inquiries to several practicing attorneys asking if we had any interest in applying for the open position. Given my interest, I jumped at the opportunity, went through a couple of rounds of interviews, got offered the job in spite of all my failings, and the rest is history. But there was never really a plan. It kind of just happened.”

An assumption could be made that for most of us, nothing ever goes along with what “our” plan was supposed to be. Life throws all of us a curve ball from time to time. Seeing others go through the same struggles and victories as our own is encouraging as we look at who we want to be and how that power is in our hands. 

“My faith has changed quite a bit over the years. I am less certain of things now that I am in middle age than I used to be when I was younger, when I was pretty sure of most things. I am also more open to different people having different faith experiences. I am in the process of learning to appreciate a less dualistic (the separation of spirit and body, mind and matter, eternal and temporal), cognitively-driven faith. This has significant ramifications for me, but it’s not an easy journey. I am definitely wandering through the wilderness, but I’ve come to enjoy being here, reliant on the presence and provision of God.”

Dr. Little’s incredible character is evident to students as he seeks support in God and his community to help him grow and find assurance in his identity in Christ. In the classroom, this testimony is lived out in the way that he encourages others to take new things into account and have their ideology challenged.

“I am hopeful that my lived experience, which includes teaching law courses in COBA, is part of my overall experience of faith. I think this would probably look fairly similar whether I am at ACU or an institution that claims no religious affiliation. While an ACU professor should self-identify comfortably as a Christian, an identification that could be a challenge elsewhere, the teaching methods of a Christian professor can occur anywhere. By this I mean, in our law classes in COBA, I attempt to speak truth to power, lay bare the logic of economic and legal structures and institutions, and provide alternative understandings. I usually try to befuddle students by convincing the humble that they know more than they think, and showing the proud that they have fewer answers than they would wish. I think these methods are some of the ways one might teach in a Christ-like manner, even if one never mentions Christ. I also try to be funny. I presume Jesus liked humor. At least I really hope so. Plus, if one doesn’t laugh at the tragedy of the law then one would likely cry.”

Little lives into the philosophy “let your actions speak louder than your words” with the juxtaposition that your words are your actions. Ask most COBA students, and they would agree that they have learned a lot from Dr. Little as he strives to stretch them in their learning while stretching himself in the process. 

In reference to COBA, he says “This is a good place, with outstanding people. It’s an honor to teach our students, and work alongside our staff and faculty. One thing I’ve learned in my nine years at ACU is that faculty are harder to manage than lawyers.“

A final word: “We need to learn to live in harmony with God’s creation, rather than assuming mastery and domination over it. Our relationships with God and with each other, our work, our cultures, our institutions, our techniques and technologies, and our futures would all benefit from a more humble approach to our place in creation. I am still learning this every day. “

 

“Why I Teach” with Don Pope

Faculty member, Dr. Don Pope, has been showing God’s love through his actions for as long as COBA has known him. We were fortunate enough to get to ask him a little bit about how his faith has shaped his journey and who he is now. As a part of the COBA Management Sciences department, Pope teaches quantitative classes including business statistics.

At some point in everyone’s educational career, they wonder how their teacher or professor decided they wanted to teach.  It is a puzzle that differs from person to person, but it reveals a lot about each individual. This is no different in the case of Don Pope. After graduating from Texas A&M, Pope was offered a position teaching Industrial Engineering at a reputable university. The timing just wasn’t right. “I decided at that time, however, to accept a position in the aircraft industry closer to my aging parents and I felt that the industry experience would make me a better teacher someday if that opportunity ever came.”

Faith played a large role in Pope’s journey and continues to do so today. It taught him to be humble and aware of the value of others. Pope says, “Faith shaped how I did my job at the aircraft plant – it shaped how I treated people, it shaped my level of effort and attention to detail, it shaped my honesty in things like travel expense reports, it shaped my language used in conversation, it shaped my choices to leave work on time and go home and be with my family. I tried to treat all people the same, from the janitor to the Vice President, and not wear my PhD on my sleeve for status. I tried to avoid being called Dr. Pope.”

Pope did fulfill that goal of becoming a professor and now teaches in ACU’s College of Business saying,

Don and his wife, Beth

“Eventually, faith was a factor in leaving a good job and choosing to come teach at a Christian university.” Pope is loved by the students and faculty. His integrity is apparent through his intentional Christ-like actions. “I try to treat everyone – students, staff, everybody with respect. I am no more important than the hard-working people who clean our building every night, out of sight. I try hard to get to know all my students, even in large classes. I ask them individually for what I can pray for. Although I teach quantitative courses, I still try to consider Christian perspectives in arriving at best decisions in business. Working with amazing faculty and staff colleagues has been very special.”

Each phase of life brings new lessons and opportunities. When asked what he has learned from teaching at ACU, Pope said, “I have learned from seeing students mature over the 4 years here and beyond that the Christian journey is a slow transformation into His (God’s) image and not to be too frustrated when students are not there yet.  Neither am I. Like Forrest Gump, that is all I have to say about that.”