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. “
It’s been quite a summer for Assistant Professor of Management, Dr. Dennis Marquardt. Marquardt was
Dr. Dennis Marquardt
voted as ACU’s 2019 Teacher of the Year in May, a prestigious honor as faculty member nominees are submitted by students, and he was named as the new Director for the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership, succeeding founding Director, Dr. Rick Lytle. Dennis was also part of an award winning research team whose paper received recognition at the Academy of Management Conference in August in Boston, MA. The annual conference features over 10,000 management scholars from universities across the globe. We asked him to reflect on the awards, his new position, and what his plans are for the year ahead.
ACU’s Teacher of the Year award came as a surprise for Marquardt, who is deeply humbled, grateful and thankful for the honor. “When it was announced in the first graduation service, it took a little while for it to even register that they were talking about me. Since there are so many teaching giants at ACU that I deeply admire and respect, I really never thought I would get such an award.” When asked what drives his teaching, Marquardt explained, “It’s a sacred trust when a student comes into my classroom; something I try never to take for granted. Students are often told that the best way for me to show that I care for them is to maintain the highest of expectations for each of them. I want them to wrestle with tough questions, be exposed to new ideas, and be better equipped as a person than they were before coming to class. While learning is always a chief priority, the thing I care most deeply about as a professor is who my students are becoming as people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, ‘intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.’ I couldn’t agree more.”
Marquardt teaching at Leadership Summit
Marquardt’s passion for teaching students is evident in his classroom on the ACU campus and in his sessions at Leadership Summit, where he has served as a faculty member and mentor for the last four years. He’s also been involved with Lytle Center weekly chapels and a weekly morning men’s Bible Study that was born from Leadership Summit attendees asking Dennis and Tim Johnston to bring more of the lessons from the mountain to Abilene. Moving into the role of Director for the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership is a natural fit for Marquardt. The Lytle Center is new to many people and Dennis looks forward to spreading the word about the mission of the Center. “Our slogan is: ‘Serving God in the Workplace, Serving the Workplace for God’. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we believe our calling is to be leaders who influence others for the advancement of the kingdom of God (where hope, peace, and life abound). Because of this, we want the students, alumni, and faculty that we serve to be skilled and capable leaders. This means they can effectively promote a vision, drive change, resolve conflict, build teams, make decisions, and empower others. As highly capable leaders, our students and alumni become effective at the work they do and influential in the environments they operate in. We emphasize in the workplace since work is something we were all designed by God to do. The workplace is also a place of unique community, a unifier of sorts. Nearly everyone at some point in their life will engage in formal work. We work with and for people from all walks of life and backgrounds. While few go to church, nearly all go to work. If the world desires hope, peace, and life then the workplace is a great place to bring it”.
Dr. Marquardt is excited about the opportunity to continue and broaden the work of the Lytle Center. He
Dennis and his wife, Monique
has clear goals and a vision for where he would like to take the Center in the coming years. “The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership exists to promote hope, peace, and life in the workplace. We do this by introducing individuals to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and equipping them with cutting edge leadership competencies, so that they can be effective servant leaders in the workplace. That’s what coupling faith and leadership means to us.”
Dennis knows that this bold vision will come with some challenges, knowing that the most difficult challenge is in measuring the outcomes of the work done through the Center. “What we are really trying to do is promote spiritual leadership transformation and that requires a consistent commitment to character forming habits and behaviors over time. While we definitely want to inspire, inspiration holds limited power to change. Change requires building authentic relationships, having courageous conversations, and a lot of patience.”
Marquardt is very excited about adding more co-curricular options for students to learn important leadership competencies such as conflict resolution, time management, and ethics. He’s also looking forward to learning about and partnering with the “many great leaders across campus who are already doing great work in leadership development.”
Along with being a great teacher and mentor, Marquardt is proving that he is a strong researcher. A research project that he was invited to be a part of a several years ago by his doctoral advisor, Dr. Wendy Casper, was recently recognized at the Academy of Management Conference. He says, “This award is really a testament to the leadership and brilliance of my co-authors. I was fortunate enough to be invited onto this project by Dr. Casper. Our first author and tireless leader on the paper was Dr. Sabrina Volpone at the University of Colorado Boulder. Also, Dr. Derek Avery from Wake Forest University, a legend in management and diversity research, was a co-author. I learned so much from each of them and it was a great privilege to be a part of this meaningful work.”
The research team accepts the award at the conference – sans Marquardt who was not able to attend.
The team’s paper received recognition at the conference on August 14th in Boston, MA. The annual conference featured over 10,000 management scholars from universities across the globe. “Our author team is deeply honored that our paper was selected to receive the International HRM Scholarly Research Award, given annually to the most significant article published in international human resource management in the prior year (2018). This is awarded by the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management. The conference theme this year is, Understanding the Inclusive Organization, which the findings of our paper fit well with.”
We asked Dr. Marquardt to summarize the paper for our readers. “We began our research with the question: Do individuals who grow up as a minority in their home country gain unique skills and abilities that might make them more effective as expatriate workers living in a host country? By analyzing the experiences of international students studying in the United States, we found that the more varied minority experiences people had in their home country positively related to more rapid acculturation as they studied in the U.S. This more rapid acculturation then related to higher levels of psychological well-being and lower intentions to leave the United States. We found that these relationships were influenced by cultural intelligence and the perceived diversity climate of the university. Overall, the paper demonstrates that minorities bring unique strengths to organizations, specifically those working in international assignments. The paper was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and can be found by clicking here.
The topic was intriguing to Marquardt. “The richness of the minority experience has long been of interest to me. While there is a wealth of research on the challenges that minorities face, the unique strengths and abilities that minorities bring to the table because they have had to overcome those challenges are less well understood. It is my hope that our research helps shed some light in this area.”
Dennis hopes that students and those in the workplace can make applications from the team’s findings now. “Our students are entering a workplace that is more globally minded than ever. David Livermore in his book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence, indicates that ‘Ninety percent of leading executives from sixty-eight countries identified cross-cultural leadership as the top management challenge for the next century.’ Our research demonstrates three significant resources worth considering when working and leading cross-culturally. The first is an understanding that having a minority experience provides an individual with vital resources for navigating novel cultural contexts. The second is the value of developing cultural intelligence, a personal capability related to understanding other cultures and behaving appropriately in different cultural environments. The third is the importance of fostering an organizational diversity climate that values unique backgrounds and provides support for people from non-dominant groups. I think students will largely learn about the importance of these resources as they see them modeled in the way that professors engage their classrooms.”
Dr. Dennis Marquardt’s dedication inside and outside of the classroom is evidence of his own personal mission to serve and mentor students to help honor God and bless the world. Congratulations on a much-deserved summer of accolades, Dr. Marquardt!
On Tuesday, March 26th, many gathered at the annual Ruth Allen Griggs Honor Luncheon, founded by Jack Griggs and Ann Griggs Berger in honor of their mother, Ruth Allen Griggs. They wanted a way to commemorate the spirit of generosity that Ruth Allen Griggs had in abundance and did so by creating an opportunity for student scholarship recipients and donors to interact. Around the room, stories about times at ACU were shared as well as stories about opportunities that demonstrate the importance and impact of giving back.
Two students were invited to speak about how the scholarships they received allowed them to experience a wide and unique variety of opportunities during their time at ACU. Kevin Pantoja, a senior finance and accounting major and first-generation college student from Roscoe, TX, spoke about the ways he has been able to live out Proverbs 27:17. “My time in the College of Business has allowed me the opportunity to grow not only as a man but as a man of God,” said Kevin. “Because of the interactions with my fellow students or with the amazing faculty and staff that we are blessed with, I can honestly say that I would not be standing here if it was not for the generosity of those in the room.” While at ACU, Kevin has studied abroad in Germany, attended Leadership Summit, been involved on campus, and most importantly has intentionally strived to build up the communities around him as others have built him up.
Elisabeth Danelski, a senior accounting major from Burleson, TX, also shared her story at the luncheon. Elisabeth spoke of goals and plans, but mostly the opportunities she has been able to have at ACU that were not in her plan. Studying abroad twice, serving on short term mission trips, attending conferences, and immersing herself in many other experiences unique to ACU was not in her plan but was made possible through Elisabeth’s hard work and the generosity of others. “In my time here, I have learned a lot of things,” Elisabeth explained. “I have broadened my horizons, I’ve cultivated a wider worldview, I’ve shared my story and had the pleasure of hearing so many others. But the one thing I will cherish the most is learning that the incredible experiences I had that weren’t in or didn’t go according to ‘my plan’ happened because it was never supposed to be my plan in the first place.” Elisabeth looks forward to making it a priority to pay the opportunities she has had forward once she graduates and urged her peers to do the same.
David Shewmaker (’92), a member of the Dean’s Council, also spoke at the luncheon. He reflected on times at ACU and shared his heart for the students and the community they experience here. All of the speakers were inspiring and reminded all attending of the value and importance of generosity. Dean Brad Crisp said “the Ruth Allen Griggs luncheon was once again a highlight of the year. Kevin and Elisabeth did an impressive job of sharing their stories as first-generation college students and expressing their gratitude to our donors. I am grateful we have the opportunity to bring our students and donors together for an event like this.” We were proud to be able to host this luncheon, honor Ruth Ann Griggs, and to once again see the effect that a spirit of generosity can have on generations.
The 2019 Leadership Summit group.
In January, over seventy students traveled to the top of a mountain in Colorado and spent a week learning about leadership from thirteen speaker sessions and a team of faculty and staff from ACU. Through the dynamic speakers, practical application of what is taught, and spiritual insight, students are equipped for leadership in the family, in their community, in the church, and in the marketplace. This short course is one of the most transformational experiential learning opportunities COBA offers and is always a favorite for students that attend.
Wendy Davidson and Elise Mitchell speak to students.
A unique aspect of Leadership Summit is an opportunity for students to hear from CEO’s, inspiring speakers, and ACU faculty and staff and get to know these individuals on a personal level. “One of the speakers shared a really impactful story about facing significant troubles in the workplace as a direct result of sharing his faith,” said Lincoln Jones, a senior accounting and IS major. “His testimony encouraged me to not fear the backlash from bringing faith into the workplace.” Some of the speakers from this year include Brad Gautney, founder and president of Global Health Innovations, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills, Wendy Davidson, president of U.S. Specialty Channels Kellogg Company, Tim Goeglein, senior advisor to the president and vice president for External Relations at Focus on the Family and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001-2008 for President George W. Bush, Carlos Sepulveda, chairman of Triumph Bancorp, Inc. and former president and CEO of Interstate Batteries, Mike Willoughby, CEO of PFSweb, Inc., Elise Mitchell, founder and chair of Mitchell Communications and CEO of Dentsu Aegis PR Network, and Pete and Austin Ochs, founder/chairman and CEO, respectively, of Capital III.
Students have the chance to ask speakers questions at the end of each session.
In addition to lecture sessions, students are able to spend time talking with speakers one-on-one and share meals with them. Some of the speakers serve as mentors for a ‘River Crossing’ project, a project that challenges students to make a plan to use their given leadership positions to make a difference in the world. Taylor Gould, a junior marketing major, said that her favorite part of the experience “was simply being in Colorado and feeling connected with my professors, classmates, and the speakers. It was amazing to be able to experience all of it with people who you would never meet otherwise and people you see every day. The lessons from the week were very applicable and made me feel so inspired.” A community connection is at the core of Leadership Summit and happens at many different levels between every person – speaker or student – in attendance.
Zach Smith, Hill Holloway, and Hayden Hood swing off the side of the mountain on ‘The Screamer.’
While the week offers many moments for educational, spiritual, and community-centric transformation, the location also allows students to have a lot of fun. The class is currently held at Frontier Ranch, a YoungLife camp outside of Buena Vista, Colorado and YoungLife staff serve the Summit attendees throughout the week. Students can hike up to the crosses at the top of a mountain peak, swing off the side of a mountain on the Screamer, play archery tag, and spend time building community and fellowship in the game room. These experiences give students the chance to spend time with each other and grow in deeper connection (and also face their fears, especially if they have a fear of heights).
Students spend time in community with each other throughout the week.
Every year, students return to Abilene refreshed and challenged to make a difference in their communities and this year was no different. Mariel Delgado, a senior architecture and interior design major, shared that Summit “is not like any other business class you will ever take and the lessons you learn and friendships you make are unlike any other. Hearing everyone’s life stories from such a raw perspective but also just the fact that so many people took the time to come speak to us and pour into our lives for that week.” We look forward to watching how Mariel and all of the other students take what they have learned from the mountaintop and incorporate it into their lives to bring about change that lasts.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing photos from the trip on our Facebook page as well as some of the speaker sessions for you to revisit and enjoy on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for these posts and future ones concerning the incredible and unique opportunity that is Leadership Summit.
Students hike up to the crosses at the edge of one of the ridges of Mt. Princeton.
The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development is an emerging organization within COBA. The mission of the Lytle Center is to challenge individuals to wholeheartedly follow Christ, equipping them to be leaders of integrity at home, work and in their community. The Lytle Center holds weekly chapel for students, with guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds who come speak to students about the ways in which they enact their faith in their leadership roles and how students can do the same. This semester, Lytle Center Chapel has had the pleasure of welcoming guests like Anthony Williams, the mayor of Abilene, who encouraged students to have the courage to get out of their comfort zones and face the issues before them in order to lead well.
Students have enjoyed learning from community leaders and being able to participate in the founding and forming of the Lytle Center. A student-run Advisory Board meets once a month to talk about the progress of the Lytle Center, to brainstorm new ideas, and to strategize how goals for the Center can be reached. We think that the student involvement is key; their help in structuring the center is essential to establishing the value and utility students will receive by involvement. The Lytle Center wants students of all majors – not just business – to become involved. A significant part of the foundation and forming of the Lytle Center has focused on how leadership extends beyond the business world. The Lytle Center believes that all students, regardless of major or career path, need to have the tools to lead in an effective, Christ-like manner. We look forward to seeing increased participation with students all over ACU’s campus.
The Lytle Center has become the point organization for many of COBA’s pre-existing leadership programs, uniting them under one body. Now in its 20th year, Leadership Summit is being planned within the Lytle Center, with guests like 2014 Time Person of the Year, Kent Brantley and President of Kellogg U.S. Specialty Channels, Wendy Davidson, scheduled to speak at the January short-course held in Colorado. Additionally, the Lytle Center is home to the Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings in Fortune 500 executives from around the country to speak to students about Christian business leadership perspectives they have learned through trial and error in their own careers.
The Lytle Center is working to form small groups for students who are interested in being mentored by older peers and ACU faculty and staff. The center is also working with churches around the city of Abilene to get students more involved in college ministries. The Lytle Center is in the early stages of exploring and planning a week-long service project for Spring Break to South Texas to help relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The service trip will be open for all students to participate.
We are excited to see what the Lytle Center will become and where it will take our students. We envision a new generation of leaders coming forth from involvement with the Lytle Center who rely on their faith to be effective in their communities. Keep up to date with the Lytle Center as it grows and develops by liking the Facebook page and watch for events like Leadership Summit and Distinguished Speaker Series for a chance to get involved. You can learn more by going to their blog: http://blogs.acu.edu/lytlecenter/
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”