For a school teaching any kind of professional discipline, the hiring and support of great teachers may be the single most important endeavor—it’s a linchpin for success, a dividing line between excellence and also-ran.
This fall, the Merrick School of Business welcomed five new faculty members—two are tenure track, two are visiting and one is an executive in residence. Each of these scholars brings new expertise and new energy for and about the world of business, economics, finance and commerce, plus new approaches to the teaching of skills in these essential areas. In each case, the world of 2011 is their classroom, and the business leader of tomorrow is their student.
The Merrick Exchange sat down with these five educators, to find out what they plan to emphasize to their students, what their philosophy of teaching is all about, and how they’re finding life at UB so far.
First, an introduction to each of our new faculty members:
In the department of accounting is Gregory Gaynor, a veteran of the securities industry and now an assistant professor in the School. He is joined by visiting professor Frederic Stiner, who has come out of retirement once—and was thinking about doing it again, but couldn't resist a chance to teach near his childhood home.
In the department of information systems and decision science is Gisela Bardossy, a new doctoral degree recipient and assistant professor. She is joined by visiting professor Charles Carter, who is teaching statistical data analysis.
Finally, in the department of marketing and entrepreneurship is a former executive of Baltimore Aircoil, Frank van Vliet, M.B.A. ’08, who will serve as an executive in residence.
With such diverse backgrounds and teaching and research interests, it’s not easy to discern what these new Merrick educators have in common. But one thing is clear from the start: They all love teaching, and they appreciate their students.
“It has only been a few weeks but I am impressed with how motivated the students are to improve their lives through education,” Stiner said.
VanVliet agreed, adding: “At UB, students are not numbers; they are people and each individual has a story to tell. These stories, coupled with the ethnic and life diversity of our students, makes for a very dynamic learning environment. The knowledge does not just reside with the lecturer, but rather it is dispersed among everyone who participates in the class. Students learn from students, as well as from me—it is a two-way street.”
Bardossy, who is leading quantitative courses in decision science, said the more manageable size of classes in the School of Business is proving to be a real positive toward her goals as an educator.
“Class sizes are small so you really get to know your students, and in many cases you interact with the same students in more than one class. Everything is centered on student-learning and providing support to accomplish that goal,” she said.
She added that she has been impressed by the level of service provided to instructors—a must for someone as dependent on information technology as a foundation for her teaching.
Of course, a fundamental part of the Merrick mission is an education that can be applied in the workaday world. A strong advocate for that stance is Gaynor, who is focusing on the white-hot world of capital markets in his research and applying those lessons to his work in accounting in the classroom.
“To be a successful accounting educator, I think one must go beyond merely producing technically proficient, but disinterested, accounting students. He or she should also try to instill an awareness of the usefulness of accounting concepts to students’ personal and professional lives,” he said, noting that Baltimore’s location between the financial and regulatory centers of New York and Washington, D.C. afford many unique opportunities for understanding.
“Although I've been at UB only a short time,” he added, “I am impressed by both the friendliness and positive attitude of the students, who are often juggling multiple commitments with jobs and families in addition to their classes. I think their commitment to learning will enable me to be a more effective teacher and will make my job that much more rewarding.”
All five of these newly minted educators have joined the School of Business at a particularly opportune time, when it is climbing in the reputational rankings and adding exciting new subjects and teaching methods to ensure its continuing relevance to the lives of students of all kinds.
“UB is an awesome school. It really is Baltimore’s, and Maryland’s for that matter, best kept secret,” VanVliet said. “Here people have an opportunity to participate in a dialogue, versus being lectured to. It is a public school with class sizes similar to what one would find in a private school setting.”
Dean Darlene Smith said she appreciates the contributions of these newest members of the Merrick family.
“I’m already noticing the energy and curiosity these new faculty are spreading throughout the building,” she said. “But it’s more than that—it’s their willingness to share their expertise and their work ethic in an environment that is brand-new to them in nearly every way. We’re very glad to have them here, and I hope they’re as pleased as we are that they’re part of the life of the School now. I wish each of them every success.”