February 1, 2005

Kelley goes above and beyond for students

Photo: Craig Kelley
Craig Kelley
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Craig Kelley has become the only professor to receive the Outstanding Teacher award in the College of Business Administration twice.

Kelley’s students clearly admire him, and his excitement about teaching is contagious. His salesmanship course is a great example.

Day one of the course begins with students learning the principles of the business environment. The simple tasks of placing a nametag and making that awkward handshake seem professional are all standard protocol for the course.

In fact, what some might think of as arbitrary assignments are what set Kelley’s course apart. How many professors bring in a piece of luggage, an old sport coat and trousers to demonstrate the proper way to pack for a quick overnight business trip?

“When designing a course, you have to ask: ‘What is the audience looking for?’” Kelley says. “This is what gets the students interested and makes them come back for more.”

Kelley says that in order for the students to fully understand the business world, they need to become part of it. He makes that happen in various ways, offering extra credit opportunities such as playing golf with professionals from the business world.

“If you can’t close a business deal by the end of a round of golf, then maybe you don’t belong in sales,” Kelley says.

It’s going the extra mile that Kelley says makes a difference for students. Helping students is part of his nature, he says, and he can’t think of a better way to spend his day.

“I get an intrinsic satisfaction working with someone who is interested in what I can offer them. I just really like what I do,” he says. “If I was not doing this, I would probably be working as a relief worker in Sudan because of the reward received from helping people there.”

Kelley also spends considerable time working with students outside the classroom. When he’s not out on the golf course, he’s often networking in other areas. He works with the Career Center on campus to coordinate resume building tips and interviewing skills for students, and also connects students directly with local employers for internships, part-time jobs and careers after graduation.

Many students remember him with appreciation. On more than one occasion he has written a letter of recommendation for a student that helped land them the job they so desperately needed.

That commitment is repaid with something far greater than money, Kelley says, citing greetings he receives at the local grocery store or the warm smile passed his way as he commutes on the bicycle trail.

“Teaching is the cornerstone. If you don’t do that well, you can’t develop people. I had to ask myself: ‘How could I develop a student to reach their goals?’ I think that this is best done by first realizing that most students don’t take my course because they want to. Rather it is because it fits into their schedule,” Kelley says. “Once I realized this, then I knew that I needed to find some other way to connect with them. This is why I have structured my courses in the manner that I have. The whole idea behind my teaching style is to prepare students in all aspects of their life. This is why my sales course is so great. It not only teaches career development, but also lends itself well to human development.”

Kelley had a great chance to share some of his ideas on business education with the Sacramento State community in early November, when he delivered the University’s prestigious Livingston Lecture. His talk, to an audience from across campus, was titled “Structuring Business Education to Meet the Needs of Business Practitioners.”

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