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Dr. Lisa Knowles Associate Professor, Management

Dr. Lisa Knowles

Bobcat Quick Hit:

Favorite Author: John C. Maxwell

Favorite Movie: "Reign" (a Netflix series)

Favorite Quote: "Success can only be achieved when the desire for success surpasses the excuses of life."

If you could have a dinner party with two people, living or dead, who would it be? And why? "Jesus and his mother, Mary—I would love to hear all of the stories."


After spending the early part of her career teaching preschool through high school in South Florida and the Bahamas, Dr. Lisa Knowles made the transition into higher education.

"When I was taking additional classes for Florida state certification after not being in school for several years, I sat in the classroom and thought, 'Gee, I could teach this class, but she has a PhD, and I don't,'" Dr. Knowles said.

"That kind of put a little nudge in me. I said, 'I think I'll go for a PhD,' and that's what I did. That's what inspired me. I love teaching children of all ages, but I don't have to discipline adults. If they do it, they do it. If they don't, they don't."

Dr. Knowles graduated from Lynn University with a PhD in global leadership with a corporate emphasis. The Boston native has also earned a BA in sociology, with honors, and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Northeastern University, as well as an MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

She spent four years as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University before being hired in a full-time capacity to the University's Gus Machado School of Business in 2007.

One aspect of the job that Dr. Knowles especially enjoys is when adult learners bring a wealth of experience into a course.

"I love for them to learn from each other," she said. "That's very important. Hence, the discussion boards and the back-and-forth where they have to comment on each other, find other information, share their experience, apply what they learn and can give me an instance of how this happened.

"Especially with adult learners who are actually working in their careers and looking to move up, they have work experience they are going to be able to share. Many times, they will say, 'I wish my boss was taking this class.' I say, 'Tell them to come on in.'"

Dr. Knowles teaches Policy Planning and Strategic Systems, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Organization Design and Theory courses in the online MBA program at STU.

Q: What will students learn in each online MBA course that you teach?

A: Of course, all of the theory, application and synthesis of the actual course content. I also like for them to learn more about themselves, working a process, developing perseverance, following the process, and how that will help them in their individual careers in the future—as well as in their own personal life, for becoming a better person.

In Organizational Behavior, we really look at how people interact in the work environment and how managers would address different issues.

In Policy Planning and Strategic Systems, we look at the strategic plan. Then, students apply it to an organization that they know. They basically write a miniature strategic plan, allowing them to synthesize all they learned.

In Organizational Design and Theory, students look at how organizations are structured. They complete a project paper on an organization that they know where they discuss organizational structure there.

In Organizational Development, I teach from a leadership development perspective. Then, I twist it and say, "Now that you've learned leadership development for yourself, I want you to use it to develop some kind of training program to help your company." So, it is two-fold. I like to do the double-loop effect.

Q: What advice do you have for the online learner?

A: There is a process. Follow the process, learn the process. I'm a little old school in that I still recommend printing everything out so that you can refer to it.

Q: How do you make sure you stay connected to your distance learners?

A: With my smartphone, my iPad and my computer. Between the three, I am able to stay locked in as much as possible.

Q: How were you able to be successful in college?

A: I was determined ... I kept looking at the goal ahead of me and said, "I have to figure out the path to achieve that goal to do what I have to do."

It was not always easy. I feel every college degree has a lot of pain behind it. I experienced it myself in the different challenges I had each time trying to earn a degree. … you have to keep your eye on the goal, your eye on the prize, of what it is you're trying to achieve. And follow the process. Determination, grit, perseverance, prayer!

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