Ph.D. Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Baker
August 31, 2017 | By: Kaitlin York
How did the Rawls College prepare you for a successful professorship?
I found my doctoral studies to be helpful as they gave me not only the skills I needed to conduct research and be effective in the classroom, but also to work alongside other scholars and students on a variety of projects.
What research projects did you work on as a Rawls College Ph.D. student?
Obviously there was my dissertation (on the financial/economic value of IT investments), but I also coauthored with six other professors on their research (on e-commerce, aligning business and IT strategies, how to create charts/graphs/data visualizations to facilitate comprehension and identifying sources of research funding).
What teaching opportunities were you awarded and how did they help shape you as a teacher?
I taught a variety of classes – Intro to Information Systems, Project Management, Java Programming and Production and Operations Management. I started out as a TA, then moved to teaching courses that had multiple sections where I could learn from the other instructors, and then eventually moved to handling my own courses where I was able to choose textbooks and cases, design course projects and author my own exams. I was allowed to grow as an instructor and learn gradually about all of the components of a course – content, delivery, assessment – and ended up being recognized by my department, winning the award for "Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student" from ISQS for the 2006-2007 Academic Year.
What advice do you have for students trying to decide where to get their Ph.D.?
Choose to work with someone who is a recognized expert on the topic that you're interested in. This will provide a platform for you to publish your research in top journals and network with top scholars that your advisor works with at other institutions. It may be tempting to freelance and do something nobody else is working on and develop an entirely new research area, but I think that's a strategy for after one receives tenure, not for Ph.D. studies. Find someone who is recognized for their work and get on board with them and what they're doing.
What do you believe were the best aspects of the Rawls College Ph.D. program?
I appreciated the willingness of my professors to allow me to choose my own topic and guide me through the necessary steps to complete my dissertation and publish my research. I also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere within the department.
How were your interactions with fellow Ph.D. students and Rawls faculty as a student, and do you continue to have relationships with them now?
I continue to interact with some of my fellow Ph.D. students. I see them at conferences from time to time, exchange e-mails, message on Facebook and have even attended some of their weddings. We learned a lot together and so our relationships are based on some of those shared experiences we had. I continue to research with some of my professors, see them at conferences, and have journeyed back to Lubbock to meet with them as we continue to work on research together.
How have the experiences you gained at the Rawls College continue to impact your teaching and research today?
I find that I frequently quote my professors and tell stories from my days at TTU. I not only learned about research and teaching, but have found my experiences to be valuable mentoring other Ph.D. students. I share things I learned about writing research papers, teaching, student interaction, career management, and work/life balance. My time at the Rawls College was not only educational, it was formative for me as an individual.