Muma Profs Travel the World, Bring Back Global Perspectives
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (Feb. 23, 2017) -- Some professors with the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business may seem to be skipping class lately, but they have pretty good excuses.
Over the past couple of years, five professors have been recognized by the auspicious Fulbright scholar program, and that involves trips overseas for extended periods of time, teaching students in places such as Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Lisbon, Portugal; and even Minsk, Belarus. One professor lectured other professors and students in South Africa.
Key in pushing USF's brand overseas is USF World, whose director, Roger Brindley, is focused on making the planet a smaller place.
"The mission and vision of the University of South Florida embraces global citizenship and globally informed research," Brindley said. "USF seeks to strengthen the global curriculum both at home through a greater array of global content in program scope and sequence and abroad through transnational efforts with key university partners.
"When faculty travel abroad, they bring the world back with them to the Muma College of Business classrooms," he said. "Professors return to USF with new perspectives and global content to embed into their teaching pedagogies thus furthering the development of students as global citizens.
"We now know that more than 1,200 USF System faculty are involved in international activities and that the number for international co-authored publications has almost doubled since 2010," Brindley said. "As USF continues to grow in world rankings, activities like this broaden our global reputation and increase value."
The University of South Florida is well acquainted with the Fulbright program. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, USF ranked No. 1 among research institutions with 12 Fulbright scholarships granted in the 2016-17 academic year. Three are professors at the Muma College of Business who are spreading their vast business acumen around the world, presenting and conducting research.
After they plant the Muma College of Business brand on all these foreign ports of call, they return, as Brindley said, with fresh perspectives and new material for the ever-hungry minds of their students.
"Fulbright scholar award recipients benefit USF and the Muma College of Business in multiple ways," said Robert Hooker, a marketing professor here whose scholarship allows him to travel to multiple places for two-to-six-week intervals over the next five years.
"First, these awards are highly competitive and prestigious," he said. "Having scholars who achieve this recognition helps keep our brand amongst the most esteemed institutions in the country.
"Second, the Fulbright scholar program has the built-in diplomatic overtones that are consistent with a State Department grant program intended to help increase dialogue with foreign U.S. partner institutions," he said. "And, third, the exchange of knowledge and ideas not only helps to forge better relationships with our partners, but scholars are able to return with information that transforms the lives of our students, programs and research."
Hooker later this year will head to the Stockholm School of Economics, one of the most highly regarded business schools in the world.
"The experience gained through this could be invaluable for all involved," he said. "The realized value for USF and the Muma College of Business is tremendous."
Finance Professor Dan Bradley was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in January and became the fourth Muma business professor since 2015 to be honored with the prestigious Fulbright core scholarship and the fifth (counting Hooker) to be recognized by the prestigious program.
"It's an honor to be awarded a Fulbright," Bradley said at the time. "They are extremely competitive. I hope that it can help expand the USF brand on an international level."
His assignment will be at the University Institute of Lisbon from May-August 2018.
James Stock was the recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Professor award in January 2016 and went to the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, lecturing and doing research on supply-chain sustainability.
"Supply chain management is a growing field, with logistics jobs predicted to expand 25 percent within the next decade," said Stock, a marketing professor. "It is an honor to be allowed to contribute further to this exciting research field internationally with this Fulbright grant."
Long-time Muma College of Business Professor Jerry Koehler was named a Fulbright scholar last year, and is lecturing about management in an MBA program for professionals at Belarusian State Economic University in Minsk. He left at the beginning of February and was greeted by single-digit temperatures.
"I'm excited about going to Belarus and teaching in the Executive MBA in a former Soviet country," he said. And despite the cold, "I'm excited about what I'm going to learn."
Grandon Gill, awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2015, traveled to the University of Cape Town in Rondebosch, South Africa, to teach faculty from various universities how to write case studies and use them in their classes.
"I believe that Fulbright experiences like my own will pay big dividends for the Muma College of Business in the long run," he said. "In addition to adding to the case for USF's inclusion in the AAU (Association of American Universities), extended visits such as mine build a network of contacts – both academic and business – that likely will be leveraged for future research, grants and student exchange purposes.
"Working in South Africa was an eye-opening and very rewarding experience," he said. "South Africa is a country of extraordinary contrast. I visited some companies there whose technology would be envied by most Tampa Bay businesses. I have also visited and driven through townships that have redefined my notion of poverty. Despite these contrasts, it is a country of incredible energy and potential. Africa is the continent that will spur much of the growth in the 21st century. South Africa is the gateway to sub-Saharan Africa."
Gill plans to return this summer, when he is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at two conferences.
"I have experienced warm receptions wherever I visit in South Africa," he said. "My university hosts have gone out of their way to arrange workshops where I can interact with their faculty and graduate students."
Taking in the culture, he said, is just as important as the work.
"Probably my most memorable experience was a 90-minute conversation that my family and I had with Christo Brand, one of Nelson Mandela's jailers on Robben Island," Gill said. "Brand later forged a warm and very close relationship with the South African leader. None of us left that story of redemption with a dry eye.
"Someday, I am hoping we can find a way to bring him (Brand) to USF to speak."
Stock, Koehler, Gill and now Bradley each was awarded a Fulbright core award, joining about 800 U.S. faculty and professionals chosen each year by the core Fulbright program to travel to 140 countries to lecture, teach and conduct research. Hooker received a Fulbright specialist grant and is one of 400 selected in programs designed to share expertise on issues of global interest and to make shorter visits over a longer period of time.
"The business world is evolving into a global community and the Muma College of Business again is proving to be an avant-garde contributor to this effort," said Dean Moez Limayem. "The work of our world-class professors and students is putting us and the entire university in the forefront of global interactions in every hemisphere on the planet. And it all comes back to benefit our students with new perspectives into how business is conducted around the world."
"I couldn't be prouder of what our people are doing," he said. "Every mile they travel, every foreign lecture hall they visit, every overseas conference they attend will pay off in the long run, as businesses around the world continue to join that inevitable international community. As a business educator, I am thrilled to be a part of this exceptional era of worldwide collaboration and we will continue to plant the Muma College of Business flag across the global business landscape."
Fulbright grant recipients are only part of the traveling professorial show streaming out of the Muma College of Business.
In December, Sports & Entertainment Management Program Director Bill Sutton found himself on a plane to South Korea to offer lectures to university students and to address South Korea's professional baseball league.
He spoke to representatives of 10 Korean baseball teams suggesting to them ways to become more "fan-centric" in their quest to put more people in the stadium seats. Sutton, who teaches courses in sport marketing and sales and fundraising in sports at the Muma College of Business, also spoke to university students in Seoul.
Opportunities for professors and students to travel abroad abound. This summer, marketing professors Rick Kelso and Carol Osborne will take a group of Muma College of Business students to London. Between June 25 and July 22, the professors will teach management and basic marketing courses. Both classes will be adapted for special hands-on learning experiences.
"The students get to visit several advertising and marketing agencies and brand headquarters or head offices for U.K. or European operations," Osborne said. "The best part of the trip for marketing and advertising students is getting to work outside the classroom."
The group will visit T.Rowe Price's London office, after an invitation by the dean's Executive Advisory Council President and T.Rowe Price Vice President in Tampa John Townsend, who set up a day-long tour for students to attend a public relations workshop and to work with the firm's marketing directors and ad agencies.
All this expands the mindsets of the students, she said.
"When students get involved in – and not just visit – the big brands and London offices of ad agencies, and work with professionals who build strategies for clients worldwide, they shed any remnants of narrow-mindedness," Osborne said. "They look at the world as a glorious, stimulating, infinite gallery of influential people, ideas and knowledge."