The pursuit of happiness of which America’s forefathers bespoke means different things to different people. For some it may involve building great stores of wealth in a visible and lofty position, for others it may mean working in an interesting career, no matter the compensation. The really lucky ones find their place in a well- paying business that allows them to wake up in the morning raring to go.
The 15 outstanding educators we profile here are involved in the business of business. Said simply, they teach America future business practitioners, entrepreneurs and (dare we say it?) tycoons in the theory, practice and ethics of what it means to be a great business person in America.
We salute these top educators and the fortunate students they teach.
A. Blair Staley, CPA MST, DBA, brings a wealth of executive and practical accounting experience to the classroom as professor of accounting at Bloomsburg University. From his services as accounting officer for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to elected auditor, to tax preparing CPA, he brings accounting theory and the tax code to life helping students to truly learn and understand the material.
“I care deeply whether my students learn accounting, so I use many hands-on projects and involve students by calling on them (in a non-threatening way) during every class thus learning every students’ name,” he explained.
Staley likes to apply four of the more universal Generally Accepted Auditing Principles (there are a total of 10) in describing what it takes to be outstanding in business.
First, it takes technical training and technical proficiency in the functional areas of business: accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management, information systems, statistical analysis, entrepreneurship and business law.
Second, it takes planning, supervision, and leadership. This means that business leaders must learn how to forecast revenue and expenses; learn how to get things done through others, learn how to command, control and lead organizations.
Third, it takes continuous, adequate data collection and analysis so that decisions are based on facts, and fourth, it takes professional care. “This means not only possessing adequate technical training and technical proficiency, but also being diligent and thorough in one’s work.
In addition, due professional care means behaving in an ethical manner and making ethical decisions,” he said.
Staley has published 18 works and his research has been recently cited by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for a precedential decision, a very rare occurrence and a true honor, he said.
He is also the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program coordinator for Columbia and Montour counties and serves as faculty advisor for the Bloomsburg University Student Accounting Association.
Staley holds a doctorate in business administration from Nova Southeastern University, Fla., in management; an master of science in taxation from American University; a master’s in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas; and a BA in history from Western Connecticut State University
East Stroudsburg University
S. Elaine Rogers, Ed.D., department chairperson of Recreation and Leisure Services Management, at East Stroudsburg University, has always felt that teaching and learning is a process – a journey that both teacher and student make together. “The teacher and student learn together as the journey unfolds,” she said.
Most teachers have favorite quotes that express their teaching philosophy, one of Rogers’ is from Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, ‘I touch the future. I teach,’ ” she said.
Everyday Rogers works with her students, she says she must think of not only who they are now, but who they will become – who do they want to become and how can she help to get them there.
“When any of us look back on teachers who made a difference for us, I believe the first thing we remember is that they cared about us, made us feel worthwhile and all the dreams, needs, and even struggles were important. “I try to pass on that caring approach more than anything. My students may not always remember the facts and ideas I’ve taught them, but they will remember whether I cared about them. I want our future professionals to be caring people themselves and the best way to learn how is to experience being cared about,” she added.
Every teacher looks forward to recognition fora job well done. It is part of what keeps them going. For Rogers the greatest reward is when a former student says to her, “I am glad that you were my teacher.” Whenever she hears those words she says she thinks about how they took their journey together.
Rogers has been teaching at East Stroudsburg University for the pace 30 years, and five years prior to that as a graduate teaching assistant at two universities and a science teacher in a public high school. She has taught all of the nearly 750 graduates of the program. “Most of our graduates are now pursuing very successful careers in our professional field all over the United States. I feel privileged to have had an opportunity to know these people and to have made some small difference for them with their success,” she said.
She holds a doctorate of education in park and recreation management from the University of Oregon; a master of science degree from East Stroudsburg University in biology; a master of science in education from Northern Illinois University; and a bachelor of science degree in physical education from North Georgia College.
According to Michael K. Novak, department chairperson of the Johnson College Diesel Truck Technology program, career opportunities for graduates of the diesel trucking program are excellent business opportunities.
“Given our location in the northeast corridor of interstate highways and the top-quality hands-on education of the students, this career field has seen a boom at Johnson,” he explained
During his career, Novak has seen terrific changes in the diesel trucking industry as it made the transition from mechanical to electronic components. His industry experience enables him to be an effective liaison with regional trucking companies who send representatives to campus to make classroom presentations and often donate technical equipment for students to use.
Novak joined Johnson College in 2003 after working at Kenworth of Pennsylvania for 14 years.
Between his industry experience and his formal education Novak is noted as one of the most popular and effective instructors at Johnson College.
His education in diesel technology began at home where many members of his family are involved in various aspects of the trucking business.
He completed the diesel technology program at the Lackawanna County Lamer Technology Center, then went on to earn an associate’s degree from Penn College of Technology. He is currently maintaining a 3.9 GPA in his baccalaureate studies at Temple University. He is also certified by the Council of Educators as a technical instructor, and a certified Original Equipment Manufacturer Technician.
The backbone of a Johnson College education is a “hands-on” approach to learning and diesel truck engines have become very sophisticated so Novak’s strength is in relating the conceptual knowledge of the classroom to the experiential knowledge of the workplace.
As a former technician himself, he can understand and anticipate the kinds of questions a student will have and guide them through the learning process.
He also teaches his students the skills that are critically necessary for preventive maintenance and the importance of customer service. In industries such as distribution and logistics, a disabled vehicle can cause delays in delivering goods which may, in turn, have an impact on a manufacturers production schedule. He instills in them the understanding that they are always representatives of their employer and their technical ability must be combined with “people skills” in order to the successful.
Sonji Lee, Ph.D. believes that by being a teacher she is also a steward entrusted with responsibility for the academic and intellectual growth of her students. She is an assistant professor at Keystone College in the division of business, management and technology.
“I believe that, as a leader, l must lead by example, for this is the most enduring way to achieve the leadership abilities in others,” she explained.”In order to maintain effective stewardship and leadership, I must practice ongoing self-reflection exploring my values and beliefs because by knowing myself it enables me to effectively teach others.”
She abides by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Lee brings enthusiasm and intellectual excitement to the classroom; maintains an ongoing focus on scholarship in her field of study; sets high standards for achieving excellence; and tries to empower her students to identify and achieve their dreams.
She embraces change, especially since she expects her students to readily adapt to the dynamic, rapidly changing world around them. She tries to create a community of learners that focuses on the application of their knowledge.
As a teacher she maintains a sincere and meaningful rapport with her students, and is totally committed to her teaching on every level.
Lee not only demands accountability from her students, but she also challenges them as well to help develop critical thinking skills and innovative solutions.
Lee obtained her BA in sociology and certificate in gerontology from College Misericordia; her master’s of public administration from Marywood University; and her doctorate in philosophy in business from Capella University, Minn.
The fact that Rev. Jack Ryan, C.S.C., Ph.D., a professor of business and management at the William G. McGowan School of Business and Management at Kings College, has both real world (13 years in an international engineering consulting firm) and academic experience allows him to present the subject of business to his students from the prospective of both practitioner and academic.
He feels it very important to begin each class or student encounter by addressing the “so what?” question. That is, why should the class consider the subject mat-ter and why is it significant to the student and to others? “My practitioner experience aids me in setting the hook as to why the subject matter of the class is significant and useful, while my training as an academic can then help de-bunk some of the widely held views of business practitioners that really don’t have very much evidence to support them,” he explained.
In addition, Ryan has been a Roman Catholic priest the last 13 years, and uses this experience to demonstrate, by example, how management theory applies in the not-for-profit world
The underlying principle that guides his instruction is management as a profession. “I continually remind students that the professional is the person who stands between a complex body of knowledge and the general public. They are working to master that knowledge so as to provide a valued service to the public. They may very well have a financially rewarding career, but they are equally called to serve the public good by their competence and moral leadership.”
During the course of their college career he challenges them to review the “tool box” they are developing and answer the questions:” Why is your future employer going to offer you amount of money? and What value are you bringing to your employer and society?”
“Formal studies can often lose track of the big picture and the reasons why you want to give your life to a certain career Students are making a big investment of time and money, it is important that they do it for the right reasons and in the right fashion.”
Professor Joseph F. Gilroy says you cannot rush experience even though experience is what every business person needs. “What I try to do is give them the foundation they will need in order to have a successful career. No one gets a Ph.D. without going through a 101 class first. Fundamentals don’t change, just philosophies, explained Gilroy, business chairman at Lackawanna College.
He encourages each student to ask the question, “Why?” The more they question, the more they learn and hopefully retain.”
“Business people must have a total understanding of business from accounting to marketing to management and especially to economics. They must also he able to communicate effectively either through writing or public speaking.”
To be successful in the 21st Century, Gilroy said a person must have a complete knowledge of business – not only hard skills, but more importantly soft skills. “If you don’t like people, don’t go into business. If you can’t write or speak to people you just can’t do business,” he said.
Gilroy returned to Lackawanna after a successful 35-year career in upper management positions for several major corporations. During this time he was vice-president of a regional company, and
then CEO of his own corporation.
Gilroy graduated from Lackawanna College in 1967, and after completing his military service, continued his education at the University of Scranton and at Marywood. He graduated in 1975 with a degree in business management.
He has taught at Lackawanna’s main campus and satellite centers since the late 1970’s. Mr. Gilroy says, “I love the opportunity to return to Lackawanna on a more permanent basis to share my knowledge and experience with my students, and am grateful that at the same time I continue to learn from them as well.”
Luzerne County Community College
Lori Major, CPA, associate professor of business at Luzerne County Community College. loves to teach. She wakes up every morning looking forward to going to work.
When she first graduated from King’s College with a bachelor of science degree in accounting, she immediately began a career in business, working in public accounting and as a controller at private and public companies.
She took to the classroom in 1997, “I feel a real need to educate people about business. I not only have an excellent educational background, but also the experience of the “real world,” she explained.
She said students of today need to hear about practical real world decision making in order to produce excellent business-minded leaders for tomorrow.
“The most important aspect of educating our future business leaders is practical experience,” she said. Theory is important in the classroom, but engaging the student to apply the theory is what we must do to prepare them for their future. “Students stay engaged and learn so much more when they are taking the information that is talked about and work on realistic projects and/or internships in their field,” she added.
She always has students work in teams to solve problems because that is how they will be working in the future.
Major agrees that there are many challenges facing business leaders today as the business world becomes more complex. For many years, she says, it was the company who called the shots without regard for customer service. With the dawn of the Internet age the customer has many more outlets to purchase their products; a large database of information to work from; and an easy way to perform research,” she added.
Another challenge is attracting and retaining superior talent in organizations. “Employees expect to work with one another, have empowerment, be educated, and of course, be compensated according to their abilities. Businesses must know their employees wants and needs, and then be prepared to accommodate them,” she explains.
Finally, she believes that business leaders in any size company must be prepared for “disaster,” which can come from the economy, laws, and even terrorist attacks. “A business leader must be able to overcome and adapt their company to these potential disasters,” concludes Major.
She also holds a master’s degree in taxation from King’s College and has been a CPA since 2002.
At Marywood University, professors expound upon three “pillars of excellence” to build success in the world of business, according to Arthur Comstock, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the business programs at the university.
The first pillar consists of “industry-relevant and technically- driven skills.” He explains, “Business students must attain curtain skills and be technically competent within their discipline. These skills go beyond the classroom setting and require real-world experience.” For this reason, students are encouraged to participate in an internship program where they receive hands-on training in a variety of local and regional organizations with whom the department has developed relationships and alumni connections.
The second pillar is based on “ethical leadership.” He noted, “Marywood has had a strong reputation for ethics, and this is something that our business pm-grams hold near and dear as well. Training is received in business ethics and industry leaders from around the country are invited to speak here.
The third and most important pillar is “entrepreneurship.”
“Even if a student is not interested in starting his or her own business, taking an entrepreneurial perspective will pave the way to career success, and we consistently challenge our students to think creatively and to seek innovative solutions to problems,” said Comstock.
The department his also sponsored several student teams in the Great Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA) Business Plan Competition, in which students develop a business plan for their own “companies:
The Pacer Investment Fund, a student-managed portfolio that uses Marywood endowment money brings these three “pillars of excellence” in an all-encapsulating experience for students. Comstock is the founding director of the fund.
Comstock has been at Marywood University for eight years, where he has served as chair of the Business and Managerial Science programs for the past five years. He obtained his Ph.D. in business and economics from Lehigh University.
He has published numerous articles; has been selected to “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” each year from 2004; has served as a financial consultant for organizations throughout the northeast region and as a board member for several local organizations, and currently serve as treasurer of the board for the Electric Theatre Company.
Personal business experience, keeping up with current events, business research and best business practices are some of the teaching tools Corina N. Mihai, Ph.D. uses.
Mihai is assistant professor of business and director of the Master of Business Administration and Organizational Management programs, as well as faculty liaison for business majors enrolled in the Expressway program at Misericordia University in Dallas.
“I believe that in business education, especially at the graduate level, students need to know how to apply what they learn in class for it to be of any use to them. Therefore, my strategy is to make my classes worthy of my students’ time. Theory is great but application is the key to success,” Mihai said.
In her classes, discussion of theory is first, then applying it to real situations and real companies is the next step.
She said, “There are also two key aspects of leadership that I continuously emphasize in all my classes: that leaders need to have people skills and lead companies where people matter and that they need to be ethically and socially responsible – the essence of our MBA program.”
She urges students to practice, practice, practice as it is key to a successful business education program. “If my students cannot use what they’ve learned in class immediately, then I did not do my job right. Nothing makes me happier than when a student proudly announces in class how he/she used what was learned in class to successfully complete a task at work,” she said.
Mihai earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA from Wilkes University and her Ph.D. in organizational management, with a specialization in leadership, from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minn. Her dissertation was titled: “Emotional Intelligence and Academic Leadership: An Exploratory Study of College and University Presidents.”
Some of her professional memberships include the Luzerne County Council on Adult Higher Education and the Academy of Management. She has more than 10 years academic administration experience mainly at the graduate level, and more than eight years of business teaching experience at graduate and under-graduate levels. Her research interests include emotional intelligence, leadership, organizational behavior and development, strategic management, and higher education administration.
In 2001 she became the first female president of the Wilkes- Barre Rotary Club.
Northampton Community College
The new director of hotel and restaurant programs at Northampton Community College is bringing experience and enthusiasm to the region. David Schweiger recently moved from San Diego to Pennsylvania, to head up the hotel and restaurant management prograins at Northampton Community College. He is excited about overseeing the expansion of degree programs and noncredit training programs to support the growth of tourism in the Poconos and in the Lehigh Valley.
Schweiger earned a bachelor of science degree in human resources at the University of Idaho and a bachelor of arts degree in hotel/ restaurant administration and a master’s in hotel/restaurant administration from Washington State University. He has extensive experience in hotel and restaurant managing and consulting, as well as in teaching, having held managerial positions with major hotel chains such as Hilton and Starwood, and served as department coordinator for hospitality management programs at Cypress and Mira Costa colleges.
In announcing his appointment, Dr. Paul Pierpoint, vice president for community education at Northampton Community College said, “David has the right combination of academic credentials, industry experience, college teaching and administrative experience, and professionalism to work with all of the various constituencies of the program and to serve them all very well.”
Northampton offers an associate in applied science degree in hotel/restaurant management with specialization either in restaurants or hotels. Northampton Community College also provides customized training programs for employers in the industry.
Schweiger’s enthusiasm for the hospitality industry dates back to when he was a kid. As a child, he took countless-mini vacations” with his family, enjoying the thrill of staying in new places. Through that work he hopes to pass on that pleasure to other travelers and to diners. It’s a welcoming thought.
Penn State Hazleton
Sherry K. Robinson, Ph.D., associate professor of business administration at Penn State Hazleton, always tries to focus on the practical, making theories relevant to real life.
“In many cases, this means pointing out to students that there are often many theories regarding the same topic, and the choice of which one is best is frequently a matter of the situation and personal preferences. It depends is usually the most accurate answer to many questions. Therefore, being able to absorb relevant information, analyze situations, make decisions based on the situation, and communicate those decisions are important skills that are useful in a variety of circumstances,” she said.
Robinson has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and perform research at Buskerud University College, Honefoss, Norway, during the 2008-2009 academic year.
From Aug. 2008 to July 2009, Robinson will teach business counts at graduate and undergraduate levels and perform joint management research projects with Buskerud faculty She is one of approximately 800 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright Scholar Program.
At Penn State, Robinson has taught a variety of business administration, management, international business, marketing and economics courses. Her research topics include entrepreneurship, particularly rural women small business owners, as well as a project on business incubators. Her pedagogical research has focused on the use of interactive technologies, such as “clickers” (student response systems) and podcasting.
She has helped to develop a new student exchange program between Penn State Hazleton and Buskerud University College, making Hazleton the first campus in Penn State to offer a study abroad session in Norway, other than student teaching experience. Two students from Penn State Hazleton successfully completed International Management and International Marketing during this summer’s session at Buskerud. This reciprocal program will bring Norwegian students to Penn State Hazleton for a semester of study.
While at Buskerud, Robinson will teach organization and management, consumer behavior, travel and tourism marketing, and negotiating. Additionally, she will assist the Fulbright office in Oslo with podcasting.
A native of New Albany, Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree from Messiah College in 1990, master of science in Business Administration from Bucknell University in 1994, and doctoral degree in Applied Management and Decision Sciences from Walden University in 2000. She has taught at Penn State since 1995 and was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of business at Penn State Hazleton in July 2007.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre
Even though Theresa Clemente, MBA has been teaching for 29 years, she is still passionate about her profession. “My motivation is to help students become respectful, responsible, and knowledgeable employees that have high standards of performance and recognize the value of lifelong learning. I want to help students grow and find passion in their lives that will be enriching,” said Clemente, Penn State Wilkes-Barre faculty and internship coordinator.
In teaching a variety of business courses in the marketing and management she teaches her students to be comfortable in their own shoes, and be proud of their accomplishments; he passionate about what they do, and everything will fall in place; get excited about the power behind knowledge; be willing to take the steps to grow after careful self reflection; take on difficult personal challenges; step out of one’s comfort zone; and embrace continuous learning by enhancing strengths, discovering what needs to be learned, and make necessary changes.
In enforcing these philosophies, Clemente introduces her passion for learning through special interest projects, student-centered discussion and a great deal of teamwork. “I also bring my excitement for learning by finding new ways to teach through new technologies offered by the university and involving students in community based service learning initiatives.”
Clemente assists students in finding suitable internships in their senior year that will lead them on their chosen career path. “In this role, I am the last one to advise students before they graduate, and will continue to be available for consultation in the job search. Most of the time, I suggest that students continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree,” she said.
“Companies of today need to be informed organizations that possess good communications, internally and externally, and to utilize the right technologies as a tool to make informed decisions,” she said. Companies need to develop a plan for change and to embrace change as well as to provide inspirational leadership and a new type of team work.
Clemente holds a master’s in business administration from St. Joseph’s University. She is the business club advisor and gets involved with students outside the classroom in this capacity. “I want to link them to the community through the Joint Urban Studies Center, Great Valley Technology Alliance, Business Plan Competition and Entrepreneur Institute, and other community businesses,” she notes. She is also a board member of the Visiting Nurse Association.
Penn State Worthington
Ronald J. Yevitz works brings the theories and definitions introduced in a business curriculum “to life” on a daily basis.
“My passion is to help students appreciate how the theory can apply to our current business climate,” said Yevitz, business instructor, curriculum coordinator and internship coordinator at Penn State Worthington Scranton Campus since 1999.
Having spent more than 30 years in the corporate world, he believes he is fortunate to be able to “connect the dots” between theory and reality in the courses he teaches. “I am afforded the opportunity to bring current business world experiences, along with my own experiences, into each class. There is much to be learned in my courses and I attempt to inject humor where appropriate to keep students on their toes,” he said.
His goal is simple: to help them reach their full potential, whatever level that may be. “I tell them all the time that by attending Penn State they have raised the bar for themselves in terms of what responsibilities and compensation they want to be considered for after graduation. It is my job to make whatever concepts we are discussing have enough of a connection that they might store it in their memory bank for future reference. The business world is not a perfect road map, and I constantly remind them of that all the time,” Yevitz explained.
His business internship experience affords him the opportunity to help students build their resume and to use the experience as a “trial balloon” for the efforts required to secure employment after graduation.
Students are encouraged to “pick his brain” on any subject and he tries to assist them in any way he can. “Between the students I advise, those in my classes, and those who seek me as business curriculum coordinator, my days can be quite interesting to say the least,” he said.
Yevitz is also involved in many faculty related efforts to further the growth of the campus, and enjoys assisting wherever possible helping young people.
He holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Susquehanna University and a master’s degree in finance from the University of Scranton.
He owned an advertising agency in Scranton and provided marketing for various companies including three financial institutions.
University of Scranton
The philosophy of Murli Rajan, Ph.D. is quite simple. He “keeps it relevant” for students in the Kania School of Management (KSOM) at the University of Scranton.
“Our students need to know that what they are learning in class can be used in the real world,” he said. A combination of solid academics and practical experience helps this associate professor relate to students.
“MBA students really need to know how the theory applies and I am responsible for teaching them just that,” he added.
Today’s business leader needs a wide range of skills to succeed, according to the professor. Also, a solid understanding of finance and accounting is essential and one needs to recognize the global nature of business.
“A successful business leader must have a good grasp of political and cultural issues; understanding local business customs and social mores is a must,” he explained. Finally, one cannot underestimate the importance of always conducting business in an ethical manner – in the end it always pays off, he said.
Rajan is currently associate professor of finance at the Kania School of Management at the University of Scranton, and is also the director of the MBA program at the institution. He teaches courses in corporate finance, investments, portfolio management and fixed income securities.
Rajan received the “Finance Teacher of theYear Award” in 2008 and 2006. He also received the “Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching” in 2000. In addition to his academic duties, Rajan also works as a consultant serving as an expert witness in the area of economic damages. He also serves as a consultant to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute in matters relating to curriculum.
He received his PhD., in finance from Temple University, Philadelphia, and he holds an MBA from the University of Scranton, an MCOM from the Delhi School of Economics, and a BCA from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Rajan is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CM).
His research interests are in equities and asset allocation. His research has been published in several noted business journals. He has lived in a number of countries including, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Yugoslavia.
Justin C. Maros, Ph.D., assistant professor and academic chair of the business division of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University believes that no matter what size the organization, it must have a strong leader who knows very clearly what the business is trying to be and how to take it there.
“Any successful business very likely has a leader with laser- like focus on things like great products, low-cost structure and efficient operations, or a powerful organizational culture. And interestingly, many successful companies truly don’t do everything at 100 percent efficiency, but the things on which they do focus, they almost never, never slip.”
Another important focus of a successful business is adaptability; all great businesses know how to read and anticipate changes in the marketplace and then they adapt and change with that movement. “Successful companies do not continue to try and sell typewriters when everyone wants a PC.
He believes in investing in great customer service. “Too many companies think that in order to achieve low cost you must skimp on customer service, yet it need not he that way Southwest Airlines is the perfect example of a company that offers low-cost airfares with great customer service. The reality is that investing in great customer service will always pay for itself and then some through improved image, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and repeat busness,” he said.
Another important aspect of a successful business is execution. “Quite simply this means doing what you say you want to do. If a business promises to do something they do it, whether it’s a plumber who shows up when scheduled or a product that works the way its advertised, a business must keep its promises…otherwise the customer will ruthlessly fire that business and go someplace else,” he notes.
Matus, who is well-published has a Ph.D. in health services/ management from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va.; his MBA in business administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco; and a B.S. in business administration from King’s College.
Copyright Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal Aug 2008
(c) 2008 Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.