By Jennifer Levy, M.A.
Program Development Manager/Senior Instructional Designer
As Kettering University Online’s (KUO) Program Development Manager and Senior Instructional Designer, I have the pleasure of working with faculty members who come from a wide range of educational and career backgrounds and are united in the effort to link transformative experiential education to rigorous academic standards with real-world applications for learning that lasts a lifetime.
This time, I was fortunate to steal some time away from a busy Dr. Ken Williams, Assistant Professor, School of Management, for a chat.
Dr. Williams was born and raised right here in Flint, Michigan, the home of Kettering University! Before he shares where he received his degrees, he notes that those born and raised in Flint are known as “Flintstones” regardless of where they currently live! Dr. Williams received his BBA-Finance from the University of Michigan, MBA-Finance from Wayne State University, and PhD-Business Administration (Organizational Leadership) from Northcentral University. Dr. Williams has also completed post-graduate studies in accounting and commercial bank management.
The following are excerpts of our conversation:
Jennifer Levy: Thanks so much for taking time to chat. Let’s start by having you explain your teaching philosophy.
Dr. Ken Williams: Overall, my teaching philosophy is to add value to my students. My desire is for every student with whom I come into contact to be the best in his or her profession. I want my students to be highly proficient in their fields, strive for excellence in all that they do, and exhibit the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior. I also want my students to enjoy the learning process and become life-long learners. To achieve these goals, I believe in using active learning strategies that allow for the bridging of theory to real-world applications. I also believe that within mutual respect is where there is mutual learning between my students and me. Finally, I believe in continuous improvement. I evaluate my teaching methods and incorporate improvements based on my experience with every class of students.
Jennifer Levy: What were your first thoughts about teaching online?
Dr. Ken Williams: Teaching online was not new for me. I taught online at another university prior to coming to Kettering. What is different from other online programs is the academic rigor and quality of the online experience here at Kettering. Teaching online can be cold and impersonal, but KUO uses audio and visual tools that are in Blackboard, our learning management system. These tools, as well as infusing humor, can make you feel as though you are teaching face-to-face, and it’s a great way to build relationships with students.
Jennifer Levy: What has surprised you most about teaching online?
Dr. Ken Williams: Most students and faculty think that online is easier than face-to-face. It is not. It’s harder than the face-to-face environment. Teaching and learning online takes more discipline because most online courses are accelerated. When you normally have 11-15 weeks in a face-to-face course, you have 6-12 weeks in an online course. Online is more flexible, though, as it allows students to work on their studies around their jobs and families.
Jennifer Levy: Many students who enroll in KUO programs are engaging in online learning for the first time. What advice would you give to the potential KUO student who has not yet taken an online course?
Dr. Ken Williams: Be disciplined. Take it seriously. You have to be online every day of the week for just a few hours. Well, maybe one day of rest is okay! You cannot fall behind because the pace is accelerated.
Jennifer Levy: How would you describe your Kettering students.
Dr. Ken Williams: Kettering students are awesome. They are a pleasure to work with and be around. They are academically prepared to be attending Kettering, and they strive for excellence. I find Kettering students to be intelligent and very respectful.
Jennifer Levy: A collection of soft-skills has become important to those who are hiring our students. What would you say are the top three soft-skills our students should work to cultivate?
Dr. Ken Williams: I would say communication – both oral and written, critical thinking and reasoning, and professionalism.
Jennifer Levy: You teach financial management, among other courses. What would you recommend people do to begin to get their personal finances in order?
Dr. Ken Williams: Before you start, you must know where you stand; no matter what state your finances are in. Prepare a personal financial statement to know what you have. List all assets and all liabilities or debts; the difference is your net worth. Prepare a budget of all income and all expenses. In other words, where is your money going? Finally, order a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit-reporting companies - Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Having all of this information puts you in a position to develop a plan to get your finances in order and enjoy life stress-free.
Jennifer Levy: As the faculty advisor of the Kettering University Chapter of DECA, Distributive Education Clubs of America, can you explain a bit about that organization and how it benefits students?
Dr. Ken Williams: DECA is an international organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the world. DECA’s focus is to prepare students to be professionals and leaders through exposure to business and entrepreneurship. Students are able to network with their peers and business professionals by attending various career, leadership, and educational conferences. There are state and national competitive events in various business and entrepreneurial disciplines.
Kettering’s Collegiate DECA chapter has been in existence for over 20 years. I have been the faculty advisor for five years. We have grown from eight members five years ago to over 40 members. Kettering’s DECA chapter is unique. Most collegiate chapters are comprised of students who are business majors. Our chapter is the most diverse with students majoring in business, engineering, science, mathematics, and computer science. I believe the reason Kettering students perform extremely well at competitive events is due to our diversity.
Jennifer Levy: What are some of the fun things you like to do in your spare time?
Dr. Ken Williams: When I am not working, my wife keeps me busy with “honey-do” projects at home. I do like to read, travel, exercise, and watch scandalous television shows like “How to Get Away with Murder,” “The Haves & The Have Nots,” and “Greenleaf.” Although, my favorite television show is “This is Us”.
Jennifer Levy: Do you have any pets?
Dr. Ken Williams: My wife and I have a Pekingese with an attitude named Noah. He is really my wife’s dog, but I am the one that has to take him out in all kinds of weather.
KUO honors and appreciates Dr. Williams for his contributions and highly regarded work with students and for taking time to chat!Interested in Teaching for Kettering University Online?
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If you are interested in becoming a member of our award-winning faculty, or a subject matter expert for course development, send your curriculum vitae and cover letter to Dr. Christine Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.