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Outstanding Marketing Educator
UT Tyler Professor Honored for Innovative Teaching

Dr. Barbara Ross Wooldridge

As a professional marketer working internationally, Dr. Barbara Ross Wooldridge was an expert at analyzing the needs and wants of consumers and creating effective strategies for serving them. As an associate professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Tyler, she now focuses on the educational needs and wants of students and is an expert at creatively engaging and inspiring them in the classroom.

Dr. Wooldridge has been branded across campus and beyond as an outstanding educator.

The professor won the Society for Marketing Advances’ Houghton Mifflin/ Pride/Ferrell Teaching Innovations Award in 2005 and again in 2007.

The award recognizes innovative teaching methods that have proven effective in the classroom. Eight finalists are chosen from educators across the United States and abroad, and each must present his or her innovation before a panel of judges. A winner is selected by the panel of noted marketing educators, researchers and textbook authors.

Dr. Wooldridge received the 2005 award as a faculty member at the University of Tampa for her in-class product taste test that enables students to experience the power of packaging. She won last year while on the UT Tyler faculty for her version of the Oscars – the Golden Duck Awards.

Highly rated by UT Tyler students, the Golden Ducks interactive game adds the element of competition to student participation in classroom discussions and integrates students into the creation of class content. Average scores on exams also have improved as a result of the active learning strategy.

This year, the professor was recognized by the Northeast Texas Consortium of Colleges and Universities as an outstanding leader for her creative use of distance learning technology in the classroom. She was honored for effectively engaging students simultaneously at all three campuses. The classes were physically held on the main campus and transmitted via interactive television to Palestine and Longview.

Dr.Wooldridge will serve as guest editor of the “Marketing Education Review’s’’ spring 2009 special issue on teaching innovations, as a result of winning the Houghton Mifflin/Pride/Ferrell Teaching Innovations Award.

Millennial students respond best to active learning, said Dr. Wooldridge, who also serves as interim associate dean of the UT Tyler School of Business administration.

“Every class is different, every class has a personality of its own, so a teacher has to find ways to connect with each particular class,’’ said the professor, noting that students also change as times change.

“When I was a student, you came to class, sat down, you took notes. If the professor told you to read the chapter, you read the chapter. Students of today? You have to convince them of the value of buying the textbook, then you have to convince them of the value of reading more than the summary at the end of each chapter and then you have to engage them. Should it be that way? I don’t know. I’m a marketer; I’m not concerned with what should be. I deal with what is.

“So classes should be engaging and fun but they also must be linked to learning and substance. To win a Golden Duck, for example, students have to know the textbook material because to make a ‘duck-worthy’ comment in class, they have to apply what they’ve read in the textbook to the lecture material and move the lecture forward,’’ she said.

“That’s one of the aspects of teaching that I enjoy most -- thinking out how to get the students involved and how to do it in sort of a new and different way.’’

Gifted in Creativity
Dr. Wooldridge is deeply committed and highly gifted as an educator “and creativity is one of her special gifts,’’ said Dr. Jim Tarter, dean of the UT Tyler College of Business and Technology.

“She is a phenomenal individual who is creative in her ability to engage students in the classroom and deliver subjects that suit both need and want.

“Last fall, she taught a class of 182 students, the largest class we’d ever had in business administration. She approached the class in ways that were engaging and did it with high evaluations from the students,’’ Dr. Tarter said of her Principles of Marketing class, which she is teaching again this fall with as many students.

Dr. Wooldridge also receives high evaluations in other classes she teaches, the dean said. “Based on evaluations, students see her as caring, available, approachable. She also demands rigor, takes a stand for integrity and ethics and has a personal, very strong sense of concern for people being treated fairly.’’

Looking Forward to Class

Management major Sterling Winn took Dr. Wooldridge’s Principles of Marketing and Services Marketing classes. “I always looked forward to Dr. Wooldridge’s classes and I hope to take more of her classes when I return to UT Tyler to pursue my master’s degree,’’ said the Tyler resident and spring graduate.

“Her classes are challenging but very enjoyable. They aren’t structured to the point of students coming in, getting out their notebooks and just taking notes while she lectures. She uses techniques such as the Golden Duck Awards to stimulate thought and motivate the class to interact. She makes the class an open forum for discussion and not just a regurgitation of facts and theories,’’ Winn said.

“And the way she draws you into her lectures, you forget there are other students sitting in the room with you. You almost feel as if you are having a one-on-one visit with her.’’

Dr. Wooldridge has an extensive background in the hospitality industry and served in Kenya and Seychelles as a marketing manager. Her work as a volunteer expert with the International Executive Service Corps has taken her to Tanzania and Uganda. She also worked in media relations for a professional football team in her hometown of Washington, D.C. The professor shares those work experiences with her students.

“I took her Services Marketing class and it was all about the consumer and the service provider, problems with a service and ways to solve those problems,’’ said Tara Watson of Shepherd, a marketing major who graduated in May. “Dr. Wooldridge has worked all over in marketing and was able to share so many real-world examples. It was one of the most interesting classes I’d ever taken.’’

Marketing Career
Dr. Wooldridge majored in radio, television and film in the bachelor of fine arts in mass communications program at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va. Her dream was to work in media relations and marketing for a football team. Graduating magna cum laude, she was well prepared to work in sports marketing. Back then, however, sports marketing was not quite ready for her.

She was the only woman on the job when she worked for the Washington football team. “Oh my goodness, it was horrible because the men would ask, ‘Who did you know in order to get the job?’ And I’d tell them, ‘No, I worked really hard in school to get this job,’’ Dr. Wooldridge recalled. “No one took me seriously. … So I said, ‘This really isn’t for me.’ I decided I wanted my career in marketing to be global.’’

She entered the graduate program at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Ithaca, N.Y., to prepare for a career in international marketing. While there, she also enjoyed working as a teaching assistant.

“I thought, ‘I’d love to become a university professor – but not yet.’ I finished those two years of graduate school, went to work in global marketing for five years and then came back and earned my Ph.D. to become a professor,’’ said Dr. Wooldridge, who earned her doctorate in business administration at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.

Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Dr. Wooldridge fulfilled her childhood dream of residing in Africa. In 1990 she was recruited to serve as director of marketing for Seychelles Hotels in Mahe, Seychelles, a chain of islands 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa. From 1992 to 1994, she was marketing and sales manager for Universal Safari Tours, the largest ground tour operator in Nairobi, Kenya.

Teacher at Heart
Dr. Wooldridge joined the UT Tyler faculty in 1999, after completing her doctorate. She left the university in 2002 to relocate to Florida for family reasons, and returned to the university in 2007.

In addition to her awards in education, she is a prolific researcher in marketing with a distinguished record of writing and being published in an array of publications, including the “Cornell Quarterly,’’ “The Learning Organization’’, “Corporate Communications International Journal’’ and other peer reviewed publications, Dr. Tarter noted.

But Dr. Wooldridge finds her greatest reward in teaching UT Tyler students.

“I love researching and writing articles, but I’m not so egotistical to think I’m making a huge impact on the world with my articles. If I can make a difference in the life of at least one student each semester, that’s where I make my impact. That’s a wonderful legacy. You get to do that in a smaller school, because you really get to know your students and they get to know you,’’ she said. “You are able to develop bonds with them that allow you to make a difference in their lives.’’

Students make a difference in her life as well.

Dr. Wooldridge’s mother passed away in November 2000. It was a very difficult time for the professor and her family.

“My mother passed away very unexpectedly, very tragically. I received the call right before I was going to teach class: ‘Come now if you ever want to see her alive again.’ I didn’t make it in time to see her. It was just a devastating period in our family. We were at my parents’ house in Florida and a beautiful bunch of flowers arrived. There was a note stating, ‘From all your students, to let you and your family know that we care,’ ’’ she recalled.

“That’s what makes this university special – that connection between professors and students. It was here when I first came. It was one of the reasons why I came back.’’

Dr. Wooldridge resides in Tyler with her husband, Stan, a banker who also works in oil and gas leasing, and their 5-year-old son, Ford. In her spare time, the professor enjoys reading, traveling, walking her dogs and going to LSU football games.

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