2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Roy Dejoie, Purdue School of Management

Roy Dejoie
Purdue School of Management

“Known to students on campus as ‘Dr. D’, Roy Dejoie has engaged students in Krannert classrooms for over 20 years. He is known as a storyteller in the classroom and often draws upon his own personal, corporate, and academic experiences. As one of a small number of faculty of color at the University, Dr. Dejoie provides his students with a point of view that dismantles stereotypes. In some cases, students discover that decisions Dr. D. might make as a ‘Black manager’ aren’t all that different from the decisions they would make. In other cases, that unique perspective opens students up to a more encompassing view of the world. As Krannert’s inaugural Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Dejoie is leading efforts to expand initiatives across campus, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.” – Kelly Blanchard, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Roy Dejoie, 59, is Clinical Associate Professor of Management and Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Purdue School of Management.

He is the recipient of several teaching and service accolades at both the school and university level, including induction as a Fellow in the Purdue University Teaching Academy in 2015, Krannert Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, and several Purdue School of Management Outstanding/Distinguished Teacher recognitions. He is also the 2005 recipient of the Purdue University Class of 1922 Award for Outstanding Innovation in Helping Students Learn.

Prior to arriving at Purdue, he worked in the consulting industry. At USWeb/CKS, he was a project manager for clients such as American Airlines, Goldman Sachs, JC Penney Direct Marketing Services, PageNet, Southwest Airlines, and Terrabrook.

BACKGROUND

At current institution since what year? 2001

Education:

  • Ph.D. in Business Analysis (Management Information Systems) – (Minors in Philosophy / Statistics) Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (August 1993)
  • M.S. in Business Computing Science – (Minor in Management)
    Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (May 1987)
  • B.B.A. in Business Analysis (Management Information Systems)
    Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (December 1985)

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Management Information Systems, Business Application Programming

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… as a master’s student, I taught my first classes at Texas A&M. I had been a programming tutor as an undergrad and I came from a teaching family (my mom taught college chemistry classes, her sister was a public-school teacher, her brother was also a college teacher, and my grandparents were also teachers), but I had never considered teaching as a profession. In that first opportunity of being in the classroom, I immediately took to the idea of instruction and helping people understand not only how to do something that they didn’t think they could do, but also understand the intricacies of why it was important. At that point, I realized that it was something that felt like a vocation to me instead of a job and I then knew that I’d found a calling.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I’m currently looking into the issues surrounding digital and distance learning. Distance learning and digital education have often been sold as silver bullets and miracle approaches to education dissemination. While that may certainly be obtainable/possible, it is not a “Field of Dreams” situation where if you build it, it will work. It is not as simple as “just doing what you do in the physical classroom” and there are many moving parts that require attention. If these differences aren’t focused on, these new educational frontiers can actually do more harm than the potential good.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… a high school football coach. I’ve coached youth football for just under two decades as a “hobby,” but if I wasn’t a business school professor, I’d be a coach full-time. Many of the same elements are at play in helping people learn and succeed. Just like in the school environment, I’ve also had players that I run into many years after coaching them who tell me about the things they still remember and retain as they’ve moved on to high school (and in some cases) college football. Likewise, I get many former students that have been in industry for many, many years that tell me how things they learned still resonate with them even many years after leaving the classroom.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? While there’s certainly a need to get the material across, in this day and age, it’s not just enough to know … you have to know and understand “why.” While it certainly gets me into trouble with students who just want the checklist items for the test, at heart, I’m a story-teller because many of these concepts need “humanization” to make them relevant, and make them stick, even though they may seem to be tied solely to money, technology, or process.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Excited!

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Being a business school professor is a lot like being a comedian; just because people show up to the show, it doesn’t mean that they are going to like all of your jokes … and sometimes a joke that you think will kill, falls completely flat. The issue, just like with learning, is to figure out why it didn’t work and figure out how to rework it so it will work or, perhaps, take it out of the act completely and replace it with something else that works better with the audience.

Professor I most admire and why: One of the most influential professors that I’ve had in my life was the late George Fowler from Texas A&M University. George was a professor of mine when I was a sophomore at A&M and taught me that you could still have lots of fun while still working hard. He later served as my Ph.D. committee co-chair, but more importantly, he was a mentor to me from the time I was an undergrad, through my master’s, and through my Ph.D. and beyond. I learned so much from him not only about the field, but about teaching. His influence on me still exists to this day in so many ways.

TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? The “ah-ha” moment when you see the lightbulb over the head, the gleam in the eye, and the smile cross the face that something that a student has been struggling with suddenly makes sense and they get it. It’s even better when that “ah-ha” moment involves not just understanding a concept that they’ve been grappling with, but then the realization that it connects to many other things that they’ve learned across the various functional areas.

What is most challenging? Helping students really understand the value of learning to learn. Many come from backgrounds or mindsets where “Is it going to be on the test?” drives the learning process. Our 21st century business and business education are subject to a dynamic, quickly-changing world where what’s taught today will be ancient history very soon. While facts and process are important today to do a job at hand, many of these students will be working to solve problems that don’t yet exist in career environments that don’t yet exist. That realization that learning doesn’t end with the test and that learning is continuous (and successfully convincing students of that) is an ongoing challenge that business school professors encounter.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Tough. I’m demanding that answers are complete for full credit as I think it’s only fair that there be a difference in grades between students who get it completely correct and students who almost get it completely correct.

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? I just recently retired from coaching football after almost 20 years of coaching. I still unofficially help out with coaching on my youngest son’s football teams. I am a voracious reader with my favorite topics being science-fiction, history, and philosophy.

How will you spend your summer? My two boys both play travel baseball, so I will likely spend the vast majority of my summer travelling from ballpark to ballpark watching them play. I will also be teaching a course in the School’s Study Abroad program in Dublin.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Although I tend to be teaching when I go there (so I don’t know if it counts as “vacation”), I love visiting Spain on any occasion.

Favorite book(s): 1984 by George Orwell. My dad introduced me to the book back when I was a junior in high school and I’ve tended to read it every year since. Always thought-provoking and never seems to age.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? The Handmaid’s Tale. The world portrayed, somewhat like 1984, seems so distant, yet just so close; thus adding to the intrigue and intensity. The acting and storylines are very well done with several layers to both the actors and the plots.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I grew up on prog-rock and album rock and still immerse myself in it regularly. My Spotify lists are chock full of the genius and creativity surrounding that genre and that time. My boys listen to a lot of what they call “Dad’s Music” when we travel during the summer to their games/tournaments and have become connoisseurs of that music type. My favorite band, and a huge portion of my listening library, is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Rush. The music produced by the Canadian trio is remarkably complex in the tone, time signatures, juxtapositions, and integration, and the lyrics produced by the late Neil Peart, often speaking to and capturing the human spirit, are rivalled only by his legendary drumming.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Focus on the reality of increasingly diverse workforces and markets that are emerging due to globalization, demographic changes, and technology, and the impacts that this will have on our students.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… I’d like to see companies work toward better balancing the social contract of business with the obligation to direct shareholders. Companies can play a more positive role in societal impact and community progress, especially given the transformational shifts occurring in our communities.

I’m grateful for… So many things, including the many sources of support throughout my life from family, colleagues, managers/administrators, students, players, and clergy. I appreciate the confidence that many have placed in me and the many opportunities to confirm that confidence throughout my life. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to pay forward the many blessings that have come to me through the sacrifice and efforts of so many others.

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