Marketing professor nominated for SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award
Those are the words Stephanie House-Niamke used to describe Radford University Professor of Marketing Dr. Angela Stanton.
"I mean that as an honor to her," said House-Niamke, who majored in marketing and graduated from RU in 2012. "Every ounce of her is full of hilarious personality and love for her job and students."
Stanton’s desire to help her students succeed in the classroom and move forward into their careers is one of the numerous reasons the professor is among five RU faculty members nominated for the Outstanding Faculty Award given by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). It’s an honor she described as "very humbling."
The Outstanding Faculty Award is one of the Commonwealth’s highest honors for faculty at Virginia colleges and universities.
While humbling for Stanton, the nomination is a well deserved, noted RU Department of Marketing Chair James Lollar.
"Dr. Stanton is uniformly praised by colleagues and students as a professional, dedicated and caring teacher with high expectations for excellence," he said. "Radford University and our students are extraordinarily fortunate to have someone with her skill and passion for learning, teaching and scholarship."
Stanton began teaching at RU in 2003 after working as an information systems professional – one of her jobs was working as a computer specialist and management analyst with the U.S. Navy – and as a marketing research consultant. It was while attending graduate school at Old Dominion University that she discovered a love for marketing and teaching.
“This may sound really corny, but I reached a stage in my life where I felt like I needed to give back,” Stanton explained. “I thought teaching might be a way for me to share and cultivate the next generation of business professionals.”
Before becoming one of Radford University's most cherished professors, Stanton worked as a marketing consultant for many nationally known corporations, including AT&T, Bank of America, Nationwide Insurance and Dunkin’ Donuts. (If you want to know the shelf life of a doughnut before consumers think the fried dough confectionery no longer looks fresh, ask Stanton. “It’s 18 hours,” she recalled from her marketing research days.)
Stanton’s work experiences play a vital role in her teaching, and her students find value in the information she provides from those experiences. “My students seem to like my ability to share real-world examples,” Stanton said. “I feel in teaching business, it’s important to do business, give the students hands-on experience, and not just teach business.”
Extending her classroom beyond the campus
To get her students real-life experiences, Stanton establishes class projects with businesses and corporations. It’s a challenging proposition because she must find companies that, while looking for quality work, understand the students’ schedules.
“It’s great for the students. It’s great for their resumes, but it’s also very challenging,” said Stanton. “The students like the idea of having on their resume that they did consulting for a company, but it’s also scary because they know they have to perform.”
Performance is crucial for success in Stanton’s classes, which include marketing research, data mining and analytics. If students do not perform well on their projects, there’s a chance they could be fired. That’s right: Fired!
“I have a firing clause in my classes on team projects,” Stanton explained. “Students can fire a team member. They don’t have to put up with the free-rider in the group. I haven’t had it executed much, but it’s happened.”
When it comes to dismissals, students don’t shout in class, "you're fired," ala Donald Trump. There’s process. “It has to be because the person is negligent, not because the other members don’t like the person. Everything has to be proven,” Stanton said. “Sometimes people don’t mesh. In a project, you need everyone to do their part.”
Stanton’s firing clause has a purpose beyond successfully completing class projects. “I tell them about it on the first day of class because I want them to understand. I’m serious about it because I’m trying to prepare them for the world, and in the real world, people get fired,” she said sympathetically. “In the real world, you do have to perform and have projects finished by the deadline at a high quality level. I try to put a little bit of that pressure on them.”
Experience is a key teaching tool
Stanton applies the pressure, but her dedication to ensuring her students learn from the experience is her top objective.
“The good thing is, here, they’re doing it in a safe environment,” she said. “And they can always come to me for help.”
And she’s always there to help, said House-Niamke. “I know she had plenty of other things to do, but she always was willing to help me when I needed it.”
Helping and preparing students is one reason Stanton teaches. Watching them succeed is part of her passion for being a university professor.
“I feel obligated,” Stanton explained. “If I’m going to require things of my students, I have to require things of me. It’s not just about doing projects, I want them to learn something.”
It’s Stanton’s attitude and focus on her students that makes her a popular figure at Radford. “She cares about her students’ growth, not only academically, but professionally,” said senior marketing major Geena McDaniel. “She intellectually challenges her students but is constantly there to help them if they struggle at all.”
Through her years of teaching, Stanton said she has learned a great deal from students, from word uses to current trends. She’s also gained more empathy, she noted. "I had a student recently who lost her father. Those are things students shouldn’t have to deal with when they’re 20," Stanton said. "Even though I say I can be challenging and hard core, I have a lot of empathy because sometimes people are in situations that make you think, 'wow.' I had a student who just had a child. It’s hard to be a student and a mom."
Stanton decided long ago, she said, that part of her job as a Radford University professor was to be a role model, a mentor. It’s an attitude she developed from the person whose office is one door down from hers in the College of Business and Economics Building, the man she shares a home with, her husband Wil Stanton, who also is a marketing professor at RU.
“He has passion. You know when someone is really into and cares about what they're talking about,” Stanton said of her husband. “You know when someone is willing to go the extra mile. He was the person I wanted to emulate. I wanted to be like him.”
The Stanton’s met when they were conducting marketing research together for AT&T. The two got an opportunity to do executive training together and it was at that time she "got the bug to teach." Stanton taught for three and a half years at James Madison University before transitioning to Radford University. She came to RU, partly, because of the university’s reputation for its dedication to students.
It comes together at RU
"There's a lot of support here, and it's not a recent thing" said Stanton, who received RU's Donald N. Dedmon Professional Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010, the highest honor awarded to RU faculty. "It's been long embedded that Radford University wants to create the best learning environment for its students. Everything here is done to help the students have a better learning experience."
Stanton, who was a first-generation college student and "the daughter of a barber and homemaker," embraces the value and emphasis Radford places on teaching and preparing students. "It's expected here that you are going to truly engage and educate students," she said. "In academia, there are three pillars: teaching, research and service. We are expected to do all of those at Radford."
Advising students is another role Stanton cherishes. She relishes the opportunity to help her students prepare and search for jobs as they near graduation. She even has job search tools for students posted on her RU website.
"I really do like helping students with their resumes and getting them ready for interviews," said Stanton, who is the faculty advisor to Beta Gamma Sigma, the most prestigious honorary society for students in business programs accredited by AACSB international. "It's scary for them because most of the time they haven't been in those situations and they haven't been in interviews where there are multiple people interviewing them. And, I try to make sure they don't overdo their resumes."
House-Niamke is thankful for her time with Stanton and all the advice she received from her professor and mentor.
"She helped me in more ways than I could possibly express," House-Niamke said. "She helped me fix my resume, cover letter and get me prepared for interviewing for various jobs. She really cares. She's a phenomenal and fiery lady. I just love her."