The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a public policy think tank and research program that works to advance ideas rooted in democracy and free enterprise. Recently, three ACU College of Business students were accepted into the initiative on Faith and Public Policy Honors Weekend Program. Bryce Adams, junior financial management major, TX, Jemimah Wavamunno, junior management major, and the author of this blog (myself), Katie Norris, junior marketing major.
Going into the weekend, I can speak for all of us when I say that we had no idea what to expect. Bryce says that if he did have expectations, “They would have been exceeded. This program was inspiring, insightful, and has given me renewed motivation for a broader, Christ-centered vision.”
The main speakers were Brian Brenberg and Haley Robison, previously the CEO of Kammock. Each taught us how to recognize the underlying values and tensions that shape our decisions through a series of tutorials and practicums. We learned how to rethink our assumptions and take the bold first steps toward making our faith infused business ideas a reality.
I asked Bryce and Jemimah which of the activities stood out to them and what they pulled from it. Bryce responded, “I loved the workshop we did with Brian Brenberg that related to assumptions and biases. In that workshop, he illustrated how we bring a set of assumptions baked into our worldview. Deconstructing those assumptions and creating practical steps to identify those was extremely helpful and impactful for me.” Jemimah said that thing that most resonated with her was, “The first segment of Design Thinking with Haley Robison, where we developed themes, metaphors, and conflicts in our inner passions with a supportive group of people.”
Each of us took something inspirational away from the program and came home with an overall sense of bewilderment and motivation.
Bryce said, “I loved seeing the other impressive students in the program. Their visions of the future give me hope that the world truly can be changed and it starts with people like us. Sitting across the table from people my age with the same ambitions was empowering for me.”
Jemimah reflected, “1) Nothing I do is neutral, everything I do has a narrative. 2) God sometimes allows you to endure wounds for you to be aware of and attuned to. In this, your purpose for a specific season is born because our wounds are individual to us, and therefore keep us attuned to others who carry the same wounds.”
I left the conference with the realization that I had the resources I needed to expand my business all along, I simply needed to find the motivation. This program gave me the confidence I had been lacking to take the next steps in bringing my business, ChronicallyBrave, to its full potential.
Jemimah is on the council of AEI executives and has attended many of their conferences. “This program was set up more intimately than most other AEI conferences are (in numbers, and living arrangements), which allowed for more genuine personal relationships, making following up with the relationships we made easier. It did not feel like people were getting to know you to get one more connection, but genuinely getting to know you, to learn the best way to serve and support you.”
We cannot recommend the program enough. The AEI team put together a truly motivating weekend experience and gathered some of the most inspiring faith based aspiring entrepreneurs that I have ever been in the same room with, nevertheless form life-long friendships with.
Every fall, more than 2,500 HR professionals attend the HRSouthwest Conference (HRSWC) held in Fort Worth, Texas. The conference is the largest regional educational and networking event for human resource professionals. HRSWC is organized by DallasHR, the Dallas-based SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) Affiliate Chapter, and has been designated as the official State of Texas SHRM Conference. 15,000 student members participating in the 27 chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) are given the opportunity to attend this conference with working professionals. Dr. Malcolm Coco, faculty sponsor for the ACU Chapter of SHRM and Director of Internships for COBA said, “One of the highlights for students is the opportunity to be nominated for the Excellence in Education Scholarship. As you can imagine, the scholarship is very competitive with each chapter being able to nominate candidates for the award.”
Dayle Hayes, senior marketing and human resource management major and President of SHRM, is one of four recipients of the HR Excellence in Education Scholarship given this past October. Winners of the scholarship have shown excellence in academic pursuits as well as their professional and personal lives. The award selections were based on accomplishments in human resources, academics, campus and community involvement and recommendations from professors, advisors and/or employers. The scholarship recipients each receive a $1,500 grant plus shared proceeds from The HRSouthwest Conference Silent Auction.
Dayle says, “I am very excited and thankful to be awarded this scholarship. As Dr. Coco’s TA, I have been able to benefit from his leadership as the sponsor of SHRM’s student chapter on campus as well as attending some of the Big Country SHRM monthly meetings with him, where he sits on the board of directors.”
Dr. Coco felt that Dayle was a worthy candidate and nominated her because, “of her dedication and professionalism as the student chapter president and as a member of the local professional chapter Executive Board. Dayle has demonstrated leadership and high academic accomplishments. She deserved the nomination and being selected as the recipient of this scholarship.”
Dayle was thankful for the opportunity to gather with professionals in the field. “The conference was great, and I really enjoyed being able to attend for the second time. I went to several speaker sessions and heard about prevalent HR-related topics. There were thousands of HR professionals there, so I also got to network and meet several people in the field. I ran into one of my childhood friends who is a recent graduate and has been working in HR for a couple years now, which was really fun.”
Congratulations to Dayle Hayes on this outstanding honor. Click here to learn more about the HRSouthwest Conference. Learn more about the Big Country SHRM chapter by clicking here.
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.
Dr. Monty Lynn
Dr. Monty Lynn, a staple in the College of Business, has been teaching at ACU for over thirty years. Lynn is the one of the first professors business students take courses from, as he teaches the Intro to Business class required for beginning business students. He is also active outside of the classroom, taking groups on study abroad trips and conducting research for COBA.
Yet, teaching was not always on his radar. Although higher education felt comfortable to him, as he has family in that career field, Lynn shared, “Before and during college, I explored several career paths – architecture, public health, social work, urban family planning, and a few others. I enjoy learning and find a lot of subjects interesting.” During his last semester of graduate school, however, he interviewed for positions with business, consulting, and teaching organizations. Once he honed in on business, the rest fell into place. After he and his wife, Libby, visited ACU, Lynn explained that “Higher education felt like a great fit. Thankfully, the business faculty agreed to give me a try. That was 35 years ago.”
Monty and Libby Lynn
When asked about the role faith has played in his journey, Lynn looks back to his upbringing in a family of faith, along with his fascination with how people relate to God and how God relates to people. With his father being a minister, he spent a good amount of time at church. As a teenager, he enjoyed broadening his experiences by attending Sabbath services and mass at a local synagogue and a parish. “Schooling in secular and faith-based colleges shaped me as well,” he explained, “as have years of life in a local community of faith”. When he started his career at ACU, Lynn initially faced some challenges. He struggled with doubt about God and questions about faith, but, “Over time, I came to peace with many of my questions.” This perspective shift came from several sources. “A Walk to Emmaus connected my head and heart, the example of friends continues to teach me, and sharing with others in weekly prayer and reading groups has blessed me”. Lynn feels a great deal of gratitude for his journey and for what is to come.
By teaching business courses, Lynn hopes that “[My] faith leavens who I am and what I do, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.” He went on to explain how he must be intentional not to allow faith and work to migrate into parallel – but separate – spheres of life, as “It’s not too difficult to encounter value differences between the marketplace and in the way of Jesus.” Lynn’s aim is to emphasize the unique call of faith in life throughout the courses he teaches, and he is grateful that ACU has an abundance of resources available for spiritual formation. “It is truly unique and a joy”, he says, “to journey with students and colleagues. There’s so much more we have to learn and live together.”
Lynn also embraces the role as researcher. “I love to dig into ideas”, Lynn expressed. Scholarly opportunities are scarce at many faith-based institutions and he has been grateful that ACU and COBA encourage scholarly growth. Students and faculty alike are grateful for the steady presence Dr. Monty Lynn has been through the years. We look forward to learning and growing more from him in the years to come.
Dr. David Perkins
A common theme among our faculty members is how many of them did not plan to become a professor after graduating college. This, too, was the case for Dr. David Perkins. In fact, teaching wasn’t even a thought for him until a position opened up at Harding University, his alma mater. When the dean called and asked him to teach principles of accounting, Perkins was almost through his MBA program, so he accepted the temporary position for a year. “That phone call was a life-changing event for me. I look at it as God giving me a nudge to consider teaching as a career”.
Perkins taught at Harding for 15 years after that, then joined the COBA family during its initial work to become AACSB accredited. His friend and college classmate, Dr. Monty Lynn, was a good contact for him at ACU while Perkins was making the arrangements to join the COBA faculty. Dr. Perkins was ready for a change, and has never regretted getting on board with COBA’s vision for excellence. He currently teaches Financial Accounting to undergraduates as well as graduate classes in the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program and has led students on numerous study abroad programs with COBA.
When Perkins began to think about the impact of faith in his journey, he shared that it was humbling experience. “God opens doors of opportunity and sometimes he shuts others. That certainly helps with the decision-making process.” It is difficult for him to imagine what life would be like without faith, as it has played such a core part of his journey. He stressed that his faith doesn’t guarantee that he won’t ever doubt; still, in the midst of doubt, growth can be found. “God is my anchor” Perkins said. “Even when I stumble or stray, I know where to find Him… right there where He’s always been.”
Dr. Perkins explained that he enjoys teaching accounting not only to help students prepare for their future careers, but also in giving them more tools to make a better life. While initially Perkins wasn’t sure how different his teaching method was from other accounting classes at public schools, he’s been able to be more intentional about planting seeds in students’ minds that can grow into faith. He explained that in class, he will “Try to apply the topics we cover to real life decisions so they will be positioned to make good choices.” Students who have had Perkins in class fondly recalled the ‘sermonettes’ he shared with them from time to time and were grateful for the weekly Bible study he offers outside of class for anyone willing to attend.
Dr. Perkins with students this summer during Study Abroad to Oxford and Leipzig.
Dr. Perkins explained that his desire for students is for them to see college as an opportunity to develop their God-given skills – even if they don’t know what they want to do yet. He remembered being in a similar position at their age, of being unsure about what life would look like after college. His best advice was this, “Develop your talents, develop your character, develop friendships, develop your faith… then see what opportunities God brings your way”.
ACU is fortunate and thankful to have Dr. Perkins – not only for his knowledge and wisdom, but for his character and heart for his students.
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. “