Allan Erselius’ first year as an adjunct business professor at Jessup has been anything but “normal.” As professors across the campus planned for the unpredictable Fall 2020 semester, Allan jumped right in, preparing to teach Consumer Marketing, Business Management Principles, and Biblical Foundations of Personal Finance to undergraduate and adult degree completion students. Allan was ready for this new challenge after spending more than 40 years in the corporate business world.
Allan graciously took the time out of his busy semester to tell us a little about his journey to Jessup, his vision for the business program, and what he hopes his students will walk away with when they graduate. It’s a pleasure to welcome Allan to our Q&A discussion today.
Briefly describe your path to teaching.
I graduated from Biola University in 1977 with a degree in History, hoping to teach at a Christian high school. However, after graduation, I was offered a marketing position for a hotel company. I have continuously used teaching skills throughout my corporate career in developing leaders. I retired from corporate life in December 2019 and sought to mentor Jessup students entering the business world. The leadership asked me to teach traditional classes and offer advice to those students.
What’s unique about your teaching style? How have you adapted this to an online platform?
My teaching style is conversational which might be unorthodox. I desire that our students know the academic material presented and apply that knowledge to current situations that face us. If we want transformational leaders in business, we must provide them the platform to express their opinions. The classroom is the starting point for the discussions that hopefully will continue in the workplace.
With online courses, the course material is essentially the same but there are more online discussions of topics between classmates and between instructors and students. As online students can access the materials in the early morning or late at night, the need for immediate responses to questions is imperative. Those “teaching moments” where a student is exercising critical thinking and developing an idea or question can come at any time. As an online instructor, I have to be flexible with my time and be ready to text discussions at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and 10 p.m. on weeknights. Those teaching moments are memorable for both the instructor and the student.
In addition to teaching at Jessup, did you have another career?
My career started in consumer marketing for theme parks like SeaWorld and Six Flags. I developed national promotions and corporate sponsorships for those organizations. Later I worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club as the Director of Ticket Marketing. I transitioned from the entertainment industry to executive management positions for various hotel management companies and senior housing companies. I found that many of my general managers/executive directors needed help in leadership development. We intentionally developed a culture to empower employees and set a positive example of servant leadership.
How are you using your “real-world” experience to help students in your program?
Real-world experiences are easily translated into the classroom at Jessup. In business, we strive to excel and be the most efficient and productive. Yet, we can sacrifice our relationship with the Lord if we take our focus off Him. The ethics of a mature Christian in real-world experiences shows both victories and failures. These lessons teach us to grow closer to the Lord and truly examine our lives and if we are showing the fruits of the Spirit in our daily work.
As an integral part of Jessup’s business department, what’s your vision for the future of the department?
My vision for the business department at Jessup is that we would partner with companies that desire students who have made a commitment to follow the Lord and are capable of excelling in the workplace. It is my hope that our students have internships and entry-level positions available for them in many business disciplines.
What do you love most about teaching Jessup business students? What skills/memories do you hope they walk away with when they graduate?
I value and appreciate honesty and integrity in the classroom. If we think and speak the truth, these values soon become intrinsic and are a natural expression of ourselves. I believe they are values that honor the Lord. I think they are the values that set us apart in a world that barely knows the truth.
It is exciting to see students begin to understand why God created them and their purpose in life. At Jessup, we can help them explore their desires, interests, and passions and then help them take the next steps along their path.
When students graduate, I hope they remember that God will always love them and He created each person uniquely for His purpose. I hope God helps our students remember the knowledge and practical experiences that were discussed in our classroom setting.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Some of our students may be timid about entering the business world as a Christian but as an employer, I and others value a young adult who knows what they stand for. I hope that if our students model Christ-like behavior at work, they will live justly, they will love mercy and they will walk humbly with their Lord. (Micah 6:8)