Marketing professor wins 2023 Felton Jenkins Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award

Story and photos developed by University Communications.

F or her devotion to students, selfless commitment and innovative teaching—Marketing Professor Dr. Joanna Schwartz won the University System of Georgia’s 2023 Felton Jenkins Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award.

The University System of Georgia awards this honor each year to recognize faculty with a strong commitment to teaching and student success.

Schwartz is the third J. Whitney Bunting College of Business & Technology (CoBT) faculty member to receive this award in the last five years. Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Brooke Conaway won last year and Economics Professor Dr. Chris Clark in 2019.

Everyone here tries really hard to bring our A-game to the classroom and to impact our students, so to have that recognized not just at the university-level, but also by the USG, was very cool.
“That’s some serious representation at the state level for our college,” Schwartz said. “It was a real honor to win this. It was also wonderful, along the way, to hear such enthusiastic support from my students and colleagues.”

“Everyone here tries really hard to bring our A-game to the classroom and to impact our students,” she said, “so to have that recognized not just at the university-level, but also by the USG, was very cool.”

At Georgia College & State University, students in the athletics department have frequently proclaimed Schwartz Most Influential Professor. In CoBT, she won the Student’s Choice award three times.

Winner of the 2022 University Excellence in Teaching Award, as well, Schwartz was the automatic nominee for this year’s Felton Jenkins Jr. Hall of Fame Award. Dr. Costas Spirou, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, formally nominated Schwartz. She then competed for the recognition with faculty from other USG state universities.

In the nomination package, Schwartz was praised for her ability to create original coursework, integrate real-world experiences in her classes, offer stellar research opportunities and generate partnerships with off-campus organizations.

But it’s her ability to make students feel valued that stands out.

In his nomination letter, Spirou quoted a former student who said of Schwartz: “Thank you for going out of your way to help me through my undergraduate experience. You were the first professor I had who actually told me that you believed in my ability to succeed.”

“Dr. Schwartz’s visionary and compassionate leadership, innovative teaching and course design and commitment to student success are worthy of the highest praise,” Spirou wrote. “Dr. Schwartz is an excellent teacher with an impressive record of success. Her devotion to teaching is evidenced by her innovative pedagogies, impressive research portfolio and commitment to student learning beyond the classroom. She is a true leader on the Georgia College campus where she exemplifies the college’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and community engagement.”

Schwartz got her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Georgia, then a master’s degree in management and Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia College, she teaches sports marketing, consumer behavior, marketing research and LGBTQ+ marketing. The LGBTQ+ course is unique, built from scratch and not found at other universities across the nation.

In the nomination, Dr. William Donoher, chair of management, marketing and logistics, noted students often mention Schwartz as one of their favorite professors. CoBT Dean Dr. Micheal Stratton pointed to creative strategies used by Schwartz, like tying color theory to performance arts and names of colors used for sports cars.

“… it’s easy to recognize that for her teaching is a calling rather than just a profession,” Stratton wrote.

Dr. Kerry Neville, MFA coordinator and associate professor of creative writing, wrote about catching up over coffee with Schwartz and how much she’s learned from her about what it means to be “an engaged, committed, rigorous and empathetic teacher.” Neville noted how Schwartz sometimes shakes student expectations, like one semester when she showed up on the first day of class wearing a Darth Vader mask.

In her sports marketing class, Schwartz connects marketing promotions with the university’s baseball and softball games. In marketing research, she uses corporate data to do statistical analysis on actual business problems. In her consumer behavior class, she asks students to understand their own motivations and how they relate or differ from people they want to influence.

… it’s easy to recognize that for her teaching is a calling rather than just a profession.
– Dr. Micheal Stratton
In the nomination, everyone praised Schwartz’s readiness last year to cut short a sabbatical and take over courses without an instructor. She’d never taught the courses before and there were no lessons to go by. Schwartz immediately put students at ease, asked about their expectations for the course and designed it to fit their needs.

Donoher commented on Schwartz’s “skills, character and enthusiasm” as truly exemplifying excellence in teaching. Schwartz has “a teaching philosophy that is genuinely inclusive and concerned about making sure her students are challenged, but that they are challenged in an environment that is supportive,” he wrote.

Schwartz credits this award on the “remarkable support” she received from her CoBT colleagues, the Center for Teaching and Learning and Dr. Cynthia Alby in teacher education. Alby leads Georgia’s Governor’s Teaching Fellows program for USG that Schwartz attended during the 2021-’22 academic year. She said the program taught her “very real connect-the-dots” practices and ways to engage students.

She is humbled by the award and all the praise.

I don’t presume to transform students’ lives—that seems like a lot to take credit for. I try instead to hopefully tap into their own knowledge and create inspiration within them to find the subjects that I teach as interesting and that learning more about them is truly worth their time. I also hope that my students take from my classes the importance of inclusivity and respect, because I believe that respect is a two-way street. I need to show it to my students, if I expect a classroom environment where every student feels valued and heard and where we can all come together and collectively learn from each other.
– Dr. Joanna Schwartz

 Schwartz will be honored at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala Sept. 8.