As Kettering University Online’s (KUO) Program Development Manager, I have the pleasure of working with Contributing Faculty members. Coming from a wide range of educational, career, and geographical backgrounds, KUO faculty unite in the effort to link transformative experiential education to rigorous academic standards with real-world applications, for learning that lasts a lifetime.
This time, we are happy to shine the Faculty Spotlight on the 2021 winner of the Kettering University Online Faculty of the Year Award – Randall Slikkers! Professor Slikkers teaches Foundations of Business.
Following are excerpts from our conversation:
JL: Thanks so much for making the time to chat, and congratulations on your award!
RS: Of course, and thank you! I am humbled by both winning the award and being featured in your blog!
JL: The first question I typically ask is, where did you grow up?
RS: I was born and raised in Comstock Park, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids. I left to "see the world" in 1985. I traveled and worked all over the United States. I was in Washington, DC, from 2016 to 2021. COVID-19 brought me back to Michigan.
JL: Which degrees do you have and from where?
RS: I have a BS in Psychology, and graduated Magna Cum Laude for my MBA, both from California Coast University. CCU was one of the first asynchronous learning institutions in the latter part of the 20th Century, when I got my first degree. Nothing was online then, I had to send for my textbooks and then use phone, fax, and email to communicate with my professor's and my cohort group! Both degrees were obtained while I was working full-time jobs, and raising a daughter, so I truly value what KUO has to offer!
JL: In brief, what is your teaching philosophy?
RS: To do everything possible to ensure my learners not only succeed, but that they succeed wildly.
JL: Talk a bit about Foundations of Business - how does this course prepare students for their professional lives?
RS: My favorite course, and one that is near to my heart! It can be summed up easily;, it is KUO's "learn today, use tomorrow" philosophy, which has been my philosophy as well for over 3-decades. Things like "offering a contradictory opinion" in the discussion post responses are a great example. I use this as a way to show learners how to develop their skills to show their value-add when put on a team at work, or if chosen to lead a team. Nobody wants people who just shake their head in agreement. They want people who add value. So right from the beginning, I am teaching learners how to apply this grading element in the workforce.
Another example would be the course content, like the assignment calling for the learners to assess a failed marketing campaign. Most of the learners never had direct marketing responsibilities in the workforce. I ask them if they have ever interviewed for a job they really wanted and did not get. I let them know if the answer is yes (which it almost always is), then they have been a part of a failed marketing campaign! They are then able to translate this into their direct work environment. One learner used the example of a project his team wanted funded, but was denied. He was excited to use what he learned about marketing on his next project proposal.
JL: How would you describe your Kettering students?
RS: Smart, driven, detail- focused, and relevant. By this, I mean they are already in some of the most important jobs in our economy, such as autonomous vehicles and EV technologies. These are not people learning theories for later in life. They are in the thick of it from day one.
JL: What are three ideas or concepts you hope your students take with them from the course?
RS: Critical thinking, adaptability, and most of all, servant leadership.
JL: What did winning the Instructor of the Year Award mean to you?
RS: To be honest, a lot. As I was sitting waiting for my award, I shared with Dr. Wallace that my dad, who was a social worker for most of his career, started as a teacher. He was also a great man and a great leader. I learned so much from him. I really felt his presence that day, and know he would be very proud of me having accomplished this in only a few years at KUO. My drive to make others stronger was given to me by my mother, who is very proud of my accomplishment. However, I have to give credit to my daughter and a friend who were attending Ferris when I was hired at KUO. I took them to lunch and asked them what made a great professor, and what made a bad professor. Their advice was invaluable as they were right in the middle of their first degree. My daughter's biggest piece of advice: "Dad, don't talk so much!"
JL: That is pretty funny! Here are a few excerpts from your students that contributed to your winning the award:
“After not attending school for over five years, Professor Slikkers’ class was the one I started with. Though his course was rigorous, I learned a great deal and had a solid foundation for my graduate program thanks to his support. He gave the best feedback on all the assignments submitted and really encouraged students to try their best. I am nominating professor Slikkers because, of all of the professors I have encountered, he was the one that took the time to help me grow.”
“One of the life lessons Professor Slikkers taught me was to share my perspective and appreciate the perspectives of others. Each student comes from a different cultural and professional background, so each has a unique viewpoint. Sharing those viewpoints and listening to others can really help a person broaden their perspective and understanding.”
RS: Thank you for sharing those!
JL: Sure, how about sharing one fun fact about yourself?
RS: My "15-minutes of fame" fun fact, is that I am the longest-running Wagon Master in the history of our country! That is way too long of a story for a blog! (I worked for a company that helped troubled youth in high adventure programming) I love backpacking and have done a lot of miles on the Appalachian and North County Trail. I am also an avid triathlete and have competed for over 16 -years, including in the Ironman. I took 5th place in Nationals in 2018 and plan on competing (and winning!) Nationals in 2022!
JL: Thank you so much for chatting, and congratulations again on your award!
RS: Thank you.
KUO honors and appreciates Randall Slikkers for his contributions and highly regarded work with students.
If you are interested in becoming a student, visit Kettering University Online and connect with an Enrollment Advisor for information about our graduate degree programs. Our programs are 100% online, ideal for busy working professionals! Learn how you can customize your degree with a choice of Graduate Certificates in Management & Leadership, Lean Principles for Healthcare, Operations Management, Global Leadership, or Supply Chain Management.
If you are interested in becoming a member of our award-winning faculty, or a subject matter expert for course development, please send your curriculum vitae and cover letter to Dr. Christine Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in corporate, professional and/or continuing education opportunities through Kettering Global X, please consult our catalog at https://globalx.kettering.edu/pages/course-catalog-print