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By Susan White

A marketing professor at Memorial is the first Canadian to win a distinguished teaching award from the Society for Marketing Advances (SMA).

Prof. Lyle Wetsch of the Faculty of Business Administration received the award in November at the SMA’s annual conference in Nebraska.

The SMA fosters service, research and education in all phases of marketing, promotes the growth of intellectual leadership in marketing and encourages the exchange of ideas among members. Its annual conference brings together marketing educators and professionals from around the world.

The Axcess-Capon Distinguished Teaching Competition has been held annually since 1998. To date, teachers from the U.S. have dominated the winners’ field with one winner each from Australia and New Zealand.

“There’s a lot of great professors at a lot of different academic institutions in Canada,” Prof. Wetsch said. “I can’t really say one way or another why there hasn’t been one before me, but hopefully there’ll be more going forward.”

Seeking a change

Prof. Wetsch has been teaching at Memorial’s business faculty for 14 years. Prior to joining academia, he spent most of his professional life teaching SCUBA diving instructors in various locales in the Caribbean, South and Central America, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Seeking a change, he entered a master of business administration program at Massey University in New Zealand and from there completed a master of science degree at Queen’s University.

“I didn’t want to get out of teaching. I just wanted to change what I was teaching,” he said.

Prof. Lyle Wetsch in the Business building on the St. John's campus.
Prof. Lyle Wetsch in the Business building on the St. John’s campus.
Photo: Chris Hammond

“I’ve spent more than three-quarters of my life teaching one topic or another. For me, satisfaction comes when you can assist someone in identifying what they may be interested in pursuing, or help them get a job or a career in an industry that they love because of something I was able to introduce them to.

“Seeing them involved in the industry years after graduation is very important to me,” he added.

Career achievements

In 2013 Prof. Wetsch was the also the first person from a Canadian post-secondary institution to win the Hormel Master Teacher Award from the Marketing Management Association. In 2014 he was awarded Memorial’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

He was the only Canadian professor named to the Top 50 Business School Professors on Twitter by www.MBAPrograms.org and was included in Social Media Marketing Magazine’s Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. In 2012 he made the list of the Top 100 Web Savvy Professors by Best Online Universities.

Understand and apply

Prof. Wetsch says a focus on real-world applications and bringing local business environments into the classroom are important aspects of his teaching philosophy.

“Business is such a practical discipline. It’s not just about being able to regurgitate the textbook,” he said. “The reality is, at the end of the day, you have to understand the theory to realize when it’s appropriate and be able to apply it.

“Most cases are not going to be locally written,” he continued. “Most cases, larger cases, are going to be either nationally or globally larger companies. It’s important to take a look at say, if you’re dealing with a small- or mid-sized business in the local environment, what are the nuances that still apply and what are the nuances that are different.”

“I think that the more Canadian business schools can put their capabilities on display to the U.S. market, we can showcase that we’re comparable in many ways to what’s delivered there.” – Prof. Lyle Wetsch

Prof. Wetsch hopes winning this award will draw attention to Canadian business schools, particularly when it comes to recruiting international students.

“Hopefully, it will start to create more recognition of Canadian business schools in the U.S. market. We’ve got a lot of great things that are happening in Canadian business schools. You see that with our undergraduate awards and our MBA awards in international case competitions and things like that. But in general, in the global market, there tends to be a more U.S.-centric approach to course textbooks and course content.

“I think that the more Canadian business schools can put their capabilities on display to the U.S. market, we can showcase that we’re comparable in many ways to what’s delivered there.”

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