As a student, you might think your professor is just that ― someone who teaches you, creates and grades assignments, and provides insight beyond what’s in the textbook to help you learn.
#UHBauer faculty are known to be among the best on campus when it comes to teaching and research, but many faculty members also have exciting pursuits outside the classroom. Here, we highlight a few of them.
Associate Professor, Decision & Information Sciences
Faculty Director, Bauer Honors
“I have been a volunteer firefighter with Cypress Creek Fire Department for eight years. I currently serve as the department’s Health and Safety Officer and I’m working with command staff to develop and implement a behavioral health program. Firefighters and other first responders are exposed to traumatic scenes regularly over the course of their careers. In addition to fighting fires, we respond to motor vehicle accidents involving injuries and fatalities, homicides, suicides, and a wide variety of medical calls. This repeated exposure to trauma can lead to cumulative stress overload, PTSD, and numerous emotional or behavioral health problems. This traumatic stress is piled on top of the normal, everyday stress that all people face. The fire service has historically had a culture of “Suck it up, Buttercup” and has not encouraged discussion of emotional reactions to trauma. Fortunately, this culture is changing, although slowly. There is growing awareness that mental health has to be addressed along with physical health. For the past several years, fire/EMS and police suicides have outnumbered line-of-duty deaths. I am also on the board of Emergency Chaplain Group, a non-profit organization that provides chaplaincy services to first responders. Our organization is unique in that all of our chaplains have worn the badge. Through my affiliation with this group I have pursued training in critical incident stress, PTSD, resilience, crisis response strategy, and counseling/intervention techniques.
My research in the Hobby School of Public Affairs, in which I have a joint appointment, is focused on first responder mental health and suicide prevention. I’m fortunate to be able to apply this work to my own fire department—I have helped facilitate training on suicide awareness and prevention in the department in addition to helping with the overall behavioral health program. Why do I do this? Even one death by suicide is too many.
Firefighters thrive in chaos and are able to remain calm while working a scene. Firefighters are also creative problem solvers and are tenacious when confronted with challenges. We also hate to be bored. I think these attributes help in the classroom setting in finding better ways to explain concepts and apply them to real-world situations. Additionally, I find that my training in critical incident stress and counseling has helped me in talking one-on-one with my students.”
Senior Professor of Practice, Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute
Director of Executive Education, Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute
Carl Herman developed a love for service as a child, inspired by his parents and other relatives.
“My family has always modeled a behavior of service, so I modeled that in my life,” Herman said.
As an adult, Herman has followed his parents’ lead, serving as president of the Sunday School Board for Congregation Beth Israel and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low-income Houstonians.
Through the support of the Edward & Helen Oppenheimer Foundation, Herman works with other Habitat for Humanity volunteers, including Bauer sales students, to build a home every other year.
“For about two months every Saturday, we get a lot of people to help and go build a home,” he said. “We’ve seen the neighborhood we started four years ago become mature, and now we’re working with the local elementary and middle schools to provide their teachers with materials they need and wouldn’t otherwise get. We’re still working to build that neighborhood.”
Herman brings his service mentality into the classroom, as one of the creators of Bauer’s Sales for Social Impact class, supported by 3M — a course which engages student teams in providing a sustainable solutions to real problems for non-profit organizations. Students work with local charities, including Genesys Works, an organization that trains high school juniors to be successful business interns in major Houston companies, and the Brookwood Community which provides educational, residential and entrepreneurial opportunities for adults with functional disabilities.
“There’s plenty of work to do in Houston, and we want to continue to have an impact on the local community,” Herman said.
Professor, Decision & Information Sciences
Everette Gardner, a Fellow and past president of the International Institute of Forecasters, a Vietnam veteran, and a consultant to industry, and the man who shows up regularly as a volunteer to help connect hospital, nursing home and psych ward patients with a silky-haired, super-smart Australian Shepherd therapy dog named Luke.
Gardner has been a volunteer with Caring Critters Houston for 15 years. The non-profit organization sends animal emissaries out into the Houston region, and Gardner and Luke are part of a team trained to work with patients who have Alzheimer’s, young people who’ve gotten involved with crimes and others.
“Therapy dogs are born, they’re not made,” Gardner says. “Every animal is different in terms of personalities, how they interact with patients and disabled people.”
Gardner’s dog Luke has made 65 visits. Luke’s uncle, Milo, made more than 100 before retiring, Gardner says. “It’s a fun thing to do. It’s a chance to spend quality time with your dog.”
Senior Professor of Practice, Marketing & Entrepreneurship
For the past 11 summers, Vandaveer, a clinical assistant professor in Bauer College’s Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship, has volunteered at the Double H Ranch, which serves children and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses.
Some of the campers are wheelchair users who need help getting dressed or going to the restroom. Some of them can’t speak. Immersing herself in a cabin full of campers, usually boys, Vandaveer’s job is to navigate such awkward and vulnerable moments and make the kids feel safe.
“I describe it as heaven on earth, because everyone is accepted as they are, regardless of race, creed, limitations, physical situation. It’s just like magic,” says Vandaveer, who was a camp counselor while a student at Texas A&M University and later volunteered with Make-A-Wish Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.
“You can see a child change in a week. A child that is normally limited, that is normally scared, that is normally told ‘no.’ And the freedom and confidence that they get. And then you get the repeat camper that will say, ‘I wait all year long to come here.’ … It has the same effect on me.”
She believes the camp experience gives her the grace to be a better professor.
“When you can step out of your own world and see things in a different perspective, it makes you a better teacher,” she says. “You don’t ever know what’s going on with someone else. When you treat people with kindness and compassion and just have fun, the world is better.”