Wilson Zehr, PhD, MBA
Eastern Oregon University (EOU) plays a critical role in rural eastern Oregon bringing both education and economic support to the region. EOU has amazing students, experienced faculty, a cohesive organization, and ambitious goals for the future. It is my intent to add value for the university, our students, and the communities we serve, on a daily basis.
I joined Eastern Oregon University (EOU) as teaching faculty in September 2015. I was attracted to the university by the size, the quality of instruction, and the fact that faculty were actively involved with students on a day to day basis. The university had just come through a difficult period, there was a new President and Board of Trustees in place, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get involved with the rejuvenation of the university. In general, I was looking for an opportunity, where I could leverage my extensive business and entrepreneurial experience; continue to grow those skills and acquire others; be involved with something important from a social standpoint; and inspire the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.
This portfolio is organized around the four primary focus areas covered in the EOU faculty handbook: Instruction, Commitment to Discipline, Contribution to the Institution, and Outreach to the Community. This introduction sets the stage for the more detailed content provided on separate pages for each area.
Commitment to Discipline
The Dean of the College of Business has trimmed the number of overloads that I’m teaching over the last year. This has given me more time to advance my research and further polish my courses. I’ve been able to work with another faculty member to create a new BA/BS degree program in Marketing. I’m also developing the framework for a minor in entrepreneurship, using experiential learning techniques, that will be available to every student in the university.
The Instruction page provides a summary of my experiences related to teaching at EOU. I’ve brought some of the courses with me from previous institutions; others I’ve created or re-imagined at EOU (19 new course preps since starting at EOU); and there may be more if we choose to expand our entrepreneurship program.
I’ve demonstrated commitment to the success of the university and historically teach an average of five classes/term (2 – 3 classes of overload per term). I’ve was also assigned our finance course in the undergraduate program (BA 313) when another faculty member retired in 2017. I’ve worked with my colleagues to evaluate the marketing curriculum, re-design the MBA program, and create completely new offerings in marketing and entrepreneurship.
I’ve worked hard to bring my network of relationships and professional contacts to EOU and to build bridges to the local community by taking on projects – either alone or with student teams. Over the last five years we have completed over 70 projects with community partners, helped build meaningful experiences for our students, and allowed them to contribute to the community (servant leadership). At the same time, I still make a concerted effort to keep it fun and interesting for everyone involved. Working along with the students, we created our own version of the Food Network show Chopped; we conducted student surveys and designed local eating establishments; we’ve also created numerous games and competitions for class. I’ve also played a role in bringing our students to the College of Business Coffee Hour by pulling together unique themes and menus that stimulate creativity.
Contribution to Institution
When it comes to Contribution to Institution, I’ve served on more than 10 committees, served on one Trek Leadership Team (TLT), led another TLT team, and had a chance to help craft the values of the university, our strategic plan, and our key performance indicators. One outgrowth of this work was the creation of a detailed profile for our student population (online, on campus, on-site), a model of our recruiting funnel, and documentation on our marketing techniques. I’ve also had a chance to develop materials on the proper level of financial reserves for the university, examine enrollment trends at all state universities in Oregon, and make tuition recommendations as a member of our state-mandated Tuition Advisory Committee. I serve on the executive committee for the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate (IFS) for the public university system in Oregon, and I an on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Online Course Exchange Working Group for the Higher Education Coordinating Committee in Oregon.
Outreach to Community
Finally, on the topic of Outreach to Community, the student projects described earlier have helped forge a stronger bond with the community. The Entrepreneurs Club (eClub) sponsors a Pub Talk each term that highlights a successful entrepreneur. We give the entrepreneur an opportunity to share their entrepreneurial journey. The sessions are free, open to the public, and also streamed live to any place with access to an Internet connection. We have featured Tres Shannon, the founder of Voodoo Doughnuts; Nicole Lewis, a country music singer, who lives in Nashville; Rick Miller, venture capitalist and founder of the largest network of assisted living centers in the northwest; and many others. I serve on the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee (URAC) which is focused on economic renewal in La Grande, OR. I’ve also shared plans for a regional economic development with the Mayors in Union County and the County Commissioners. I’ve also created a 501(c)(3) non-profit to pursue opportunities related to creating and nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in eastern Oregon.
Thank you again for taking time to review my portfolio.