Jeff Conant, professor of marketing at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, was recently honored by the Society for Marketing Advances (SMA) with their 2007 Sherwin-Williams Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. Despite the prestige of this award and the numerous others he has received for his superior teaching skills, Conant says it’s not the accolades that drive him to excel in the classroom.
“I’m motivated to create good leaders who are persuasive communicators and analytical thinkers and are ethically sensitive,” he says. “The exciting moment for me in the classroom is when students exceed their own expectations and I get to be a part of it.”
Conant is a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and holder of the Eppright University Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence. He is also the head of the marketing department and has been teaching at A&M for 21 years.
“Jeff Conant is one of Texas A&M University’s greatest teachers,” says Ricky Griffin, interim dean of Mays. “His innovative teaching methods and the passion and enthusiasm he brings to the classroom are legendary. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition than Jeff.”
Conant was presented with the SMA award at their annual meeting in San Antonio, which was held November 8-20. Now in its tenth year, the selection process for this award begins in the spring when business schools from around the globe are invited to nominate one marketing professor for consideration. From the pool of nominees, four finalists are then invited to participate in the Sherwin-Williams Distinguished Teaching Professor Competition. Speaking before a panel of six judges and many of their peers at the SMA annual meeting, the finalists are given the opportunity to talk about and model how they teach. The winner is then announced and recognized at the SMA Awards Luncheon the following day. The other finalists were Gary Geissler (University of Arkansas-Little Rock), Mike Brady (Florida State University), and Christian Dussart (HEC Montreal).
Conant was also a finalist for this award in 2005. His classroom efforts have been recognized specifically because of his research in marketing education, for which he has received four best article awards in the last three decades.
“Doing this research has helped me learn a lot from the best educators in the world,” said Conant, who believes his real strengths are his interactive style based on the Socratic method, empowering students to take responsibility for their own education, and providing fast feed back in a caring environment.
Conant’s students say that his efforts are not in vain. “Dr. Conant is a distinguished educator because he pushes his students to think differently,” says Kari Kelley, and MS in marketing student from Houston. “During my time in his class I learned about marketing strategy, as well as how to approach problems from different perspectives. Dr. Conant taught me how to confidently speak my opinion and express it in an efficient manner.”