2017 Top 40 Undergraduate Professors: Tina Opie, Babson College

Tina Opie

Assistant Professor of Management

Babson College

Where Tina Opie thrives most is in tackling tough subjects related to leadership and diversity. Inside the classroom, this organizational behavior professor is known for bringing a huge amount of energy and humor, but blending it with a real seriousness and respect for what she teaches. The result is her ability to facilitate some of the best, most thoughtful discussions ever conducted around diversity.

She takes on nearly every diversity-related topic you can think of. From race and ethnicity, to body type, to the focus on black women and their natural hair. Her research and teaching focuses primarily on how organizations can create workplaces that successfully leverage these individual differences and convey respect for individual contributions. 

With students, Professor Opie has developed a rapport described as “amazing” as they constantly seek her advice on careers, relationships, and leadership challenges. In 2016, Babson recognized Professor Opie with the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence as well as the Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

Age: Say what?

At current institution since: 2010

Education: BBA, Management, James Madison University 1993; MBA, Management, Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, 1999; PhD, Management, Stern School of Business at New York University, 2010

List of courses currently teaching: Foundations of Management & Entrepreneurship

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve had just about every hairstyle under the sun

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I attended the PhD Project conference…once I attended that conference I was bitten by the professor bug, I just had to figure out the timing

“If I weren’t a business school professor…” I’d be a television personality and social justice activist

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” #Nervousexcitedhonored

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? Seeing their faces at the end of the semester/year when they realize how much they’ve learned and taught me and themselves

What is the biggest challenge that comes with teaching undergraduate business students? Helping them see that there’s more to Organizational Behavior than just “common sense”

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? Several of my undergrad students have managed to run their entrepreneurial businesses WHILE being full time students!

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Cheat

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Forget about regurgitating the material, instead become fluent with the language and apply it to real world situations

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Having high expectations and fair

“But I would describe myself as …” The same!

What are your hobbies? Boxing (I need to get back in the gym) and cracking jokes

How did you spend your summer? Writing, research trip to Italy and loads of family time

Favorite place to vacation: anyplace with my family and a beach (without lots of other folks!)

Favorite book: The Bible

Favorite movie and/or television show: The Color Purple

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Gospel, Yolanda Adams

Bucket list item #1: Travel to every continent

What professional achievement are you most proud of? FINALLY getting published after many, many rejections; being recognized as a teacher who cares

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? This is pretty close!

Professor you most admire and why: Ed Freeman. I was a student in Ed’s ethics class and he pushed our (my) thinking in a way that many students may not experience. Plus, Ed is an important part of why I’m a professor today, he saw something in me and helped me pursue it.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I’m currently researching a few topics related to diversity and inclusion. One of the papers I’m co-authoring with some great colleagues is about whose voice is heard in the college classroom. We are working hard to figure out how all college students can become more comfortable actively participating in class and how faculty can become better facilitators of classroom participation

Twitter handle: @DrTinaOpie

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” inclusion and student-led, thought-provoking discussions that break us out of our echo chambers

“And much less of this…” Bureaucracy

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you

Being a Full professor, teaching undergraduates, conducting research and serving as faculty director of a center for diversity and inclusion (with opportunities to travel the world…still going for that Bucket List!); both of our children successful college graduates!

Students say…

“Prof. Tina Opie is one of the most prolific professors I have ever had the chance to learn from. Her expertise on her subject matter, paired with her dynamic ability to engage a room is amazing–there’s never a dull moment in professor Opie’s classroom. You can feel the energy and passion she brings to her work, and her students. I was fortunate to be one of her students”

“Being a student in Professor Opie’s class has been one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career. Not only did she show exemplary knowledge of the course content but she delivered her content with passion, put her students first and brought her full self to the classroom, and this is what will always make her exceptional.” 

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