Dr. Justin Peart Associate Professor, Business Administration
Bobcat Quick Hit:
Favorite Author: "The Silence of the Lambs"
Favorite Movie: "If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward." – Martin Luther King Jr.
Favorite Quote: "Barack Obama and Mother Theresa. Both demonstrate the ability to live successful lives while genuinely caring about and trying to make a positive difference in the welfare of less fortunate people."
If you could have a dinner party with two people, living or dead, who would it be? And why?
Although Dr. Justin Peart planned on a career in business, the Jamaica native had a change of heart after he earned an MBA at Florida International University. "My mom is a professor," Dr. Peart said. "My dad was a pastor, but he also taught. It's something in the family—something in the blood—that got me interested initially.
"When I first went to FIU, the plan was to do the MBA and then enter the world of business. At the time, FIU was recruiting students to do doctorates, so I decided to give it a shot."
Dr. Peart came to St. Thomas University to teach in 2001 after five years as an adjunct professor at FIU. He graduated with honors from The University of the West Indies with a BS in Computer Studies and later earned an MBA, then a PhD in business administration with a specialization in marketing from FIU.
In addition to teaching Marketing Research, Marketing Management, Social Media Marketing, and several entrepreneurship and international business courses, Dr. Peart is director of the Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at STU. "That has been a highlight of my career for the last number of years—introducing students here to the possibilities associated with entrepreneurship," Dr. Peart said. "Before I came to St. Thomas, entrepreneurship wasn't emphasized."
Q: What will students learn in each online MBA course that you teach?
A: Generally, in my courses, there is an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. The classes are usually more interactive. I like using the Socratic model where you throw things out there, get their feedback and try to get them to share their thoughts as well. That is typically what happens. Routinely, all of my courses include elements of business planning or marketing plans. I favor the practitioner approach so that once students are done, they can make a smooth transition into the work world.
Q: What is the value of an MBA?
A: The MBA is particularly useful for individuals who are already in or plan to rise to middle or upper management positions. Especially for persons who don't have a business-related undergraduate degree nor experience in the business world, an MBA provides the crucial general knowledge needed to transition into management. Greater value may be acquired by specializing in a specific field of management such as International Business or Human Resources.
Q: What advice do you have for the online learner?
A: Earning a degree online takes a lot more discipline on the part of the student because you don't have that classroom interaction. A lot of what you get out of an online course depends on your willingness to put in the time and do the various assignments. One of the things we do a lot with online courses is have online discussions to somewhat substitute for the fact that you don't have in-class discussions. The challenge that most students have is keeping up with required assignments. I go back to the word "discipline" as being key.
Q: How do you make sure you stay connected to your distance learners?
A: That's a challenge. I mentioned discipline on the part of students, but it takes discipline on my part as well. When you're online, you have to really make that special effort to ensure things don't slip through the cracks, because you are not forced to be in the classroom with the students at a particular point in time. I go again with the word "discipline"—discipline on the part of the professor as well. I have to keep up with the students and maintain their interest in what's going on.
Q: Do you think your online learners differ from your face-to-face learners? If so, how?
A: From my experience, most of the online learners I have interacted with are a bit more mature. Many of them are already working. Part of the reason they do online instead of going to an on-campus location is because they just don't have the time. They are already so busy, unlike a typical college student. Helping them adjust to the idea of getting back into school and making that special effort to focus on their goals is important. Something that I find is that these more mature students tend to be a bit more serious than the on-campus students—they are not concerned about switching majors and so on. Usually they have already made up their mind regarding their academic objectives and are more focused.
Q: When an adult learner brings professional experience to the classroom, how do you think that impacts or changes your teaching?
A: I try to capitalize on the experience they already have with the idea of having the classes be interactive. I've learned a lot from those students already out there in the field. As a professor, sometimes you tend to be insulated from what is going on out there. That mutual learning experience is something that I treasure from online students. You never stop learning.
Q: What did you focus on to get you where you are today?
A: I'm really dedicated to the idea of improving myself. I changed course along the way, but I get satisfaction from seeing students progress and move on to their careers. We celebrate a week of entrepreneurship here each year, so some of the speakers that come back are former students. It's good to see they have moved ahead and are giving back. I'm a huge proponent of education. I see how it can change lives for the better and provide more options to people.