Featured Online Faculty Profile
Boyd Smith, MA, Ph.D.
Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Management
Where I come from
Starting from a position as an electronics repair specialist in the military, I transitioned into computer systems engineering. I worked for 11 years at Burroughs/Unisys as a computer engineer and systems engineering manager, then at various small to midsize companies as a technical manager. In the early 1990s, the job market contracted and, for a time, there were too many technical managers and not enough jobs.
In 1990, I shifted my focus from technical management to education. I began work in this career field as an admission's representative at Griffin College, and later became the Director of Admissions for Distance Learning and Online Programs at City University, where I managed a group of advisors counseling prospective students on what programs would be appropriate for them. Eventually I moved back into industry, managing training and development projects for Boeing's Learning, Education & Development division.
After six years at Boeing, I transitioned to an independent consultant role for non-profits on human resource management (HRM) issues and organizational redesign. I also teach HRM for DeVry University Online.
Some things change, some don't
I helped design and grow the distance learning program 14 years ago with City University, when the field was still in its infancy. Online technology has changed so dramatically that early versions bear no comparison to the sleek, easy-to-use platform that DeVry University students now enjoy. What has not changed is the effort needed to reorient a career and get an advanced degree late in life. I got a second Master's (in Organizational Development) and my doctorate in Human and Organizational Systems online. I empathize with the challenging process my DeVry University students go through as returning students in mid-career.
I feel very satisfied with what I have accomplished in the various positions I have held and courses of study I have taken. But I am most proud of the fact that I was able to transition to a new career field and land on my feet. Life has a tendency to throw things at you, and you either give up, or keep at it until you succeed.
A course about getting a job
HRM is undergoing a paradigm shift. It used to be considered only as an administrative function, and now it offers a strategic aspect as well. The HR department operates well now as a balancing force between the needs of the organization and the needs of the employees. It's important for students to realize what an impact a career in HR can have on lives - their own and other lives - whether they work as HR professionals, or just interact with HR as an employee.
The course I teach helps students understand some basic things about their current life situation and it gives them a clear set of goals and a vision of what their career can be once they graduate. It touches on everything from labor-management environments to employee benefits, HR planning and job analysis. So there is something of value for everybody. That gets students excited. They often say, "This is really useful; I'm taking this to work tomorrow, "or" This has changed my whole approach to interviewing."
Passing the torch
Dr. Lenneal Henderson, my Ph.D. mentor, helped me transition both professionally and personally. He understood not only what I was trying to accomplish at the moment but also encouraged my passion for life-long learning. I've completed four degrees, but the one that really reinforced that passion was my first master's degree, in Whole Systems Design. That discipline combines pragmatic and philosophical views about how systems are structured; it is less technical and more about structure and process. Whole Systems Design provides tools both to evaluate current business and social systems and build new ones.
I enjoy mentoring others as Dr. Henderson mentored me. I am at the point where I have a passion for sharing some of my life experiences as well as the academic knowledge I have acquired, to help others overcome some of the obstacles that I have encountered.
A class where everybody speaks their mind
A class where everybody speaks their mind I have taught in classrooms for 14 years and online for ten years. There are advantages to both. The face-to-face contact is the great advantage of site-based classrooms. Online, the big advantage is that everyone participates. The more reflective students sometimes don't get to participate in face-to-face environments because the more vocal students always beat them to the punch. Online, everyone has an opportunity to voice their ideas. It is more open to different learning styles.
At the beginning of each class, students write and post an introduction. I read and respond to each of them personally. I encourage my students to respond in the manner that is comfortable for them, whether by email, or phone, and in the discussion threads. There is a good chance to develop a personal relationship, in spite of not seeing each other. I seldom have a situation where the students interact only with me or with the material, and not with their fellow students.
Human Resource Management is no longer tied to one gender. There is a fairly equal male/female balance in my classes. Their ages range from high school graduate through to midlife professional. We have a good ethnic mix, including some international students. Maybe a third of my students have HRM work experience, but everyone comes in with unique life experiences. The more they share those with each other, the more everybody learns.
In our busy world, we all try to do so much - survive job pressures, raise families, and go to school at the same time. The online teaching environment at DeVry University gives students a chance to accomplish all that and still get a quality education.
To succeed, students must be self-motivated and clear about their academic goals. Students need to make time in their lives to balance personal and academic life and beware of taking on too much. DeVry University academic advisors always remind students to adjust their schedule to accommodate different life situations. In addition, I am always available to help students in any way I can as they have needs during class.
DeVry University has a well-deserved reputation for delivering a high-quality education that is student-focused. It is one of the few educational institutions that truly balances student needs with organizational goals. I am very pleased to be part of the DeVry University system. I enjoy the partnership that DeVry University has created between instructors, Faculty Managers, and course developers - all focused on helping the students succeed.
DeVry University provides pragmatic, real-world, contemporary knowledge to help students advance their careers. It does so in a way that encourages rapid progress. The programs are fairly compressed but do-able so that students can graduate quickly if they choose to, yet it gives them the flexibility to design their schedule around their busy lives. With the small class size, they get plenty of individual attention.