It’s my commitment to give back to our community, and service learning is one way to involve very smart, motivated people in that process.
Clinical Assistant Professor Carl Scott
SETTING THE EXAMPLE
CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR EMPHASIZES SERVICE LEARNING FOR BUSINESS STUDENTS
The best way to master a concept is to apply it, if you ask Bauer College clinical assistant professor Carl Scott.
He’s given thousands of undergraduates in the college the chance to do that through a project management class for management information systems students.
“From the time I was a child, I have always believed in giving back, service and involvement in the community — lessons my father taught me,” Scott said. “It’s my commitment to give back to our community, and service learning is one way to involve very smart, motivated people in that process.”
Organized in partnership with the Executive Service Corps of Houston, the course provides students an experiential learning opportunity to use what they learn in their MIS studies to create websites, databases, point-of-sale systems and integrated networks, among other possible projects, for a selected nonprofit client. Student teams are paired with a mentor from ESCH and consult with the client to determine what technology solution aligns best with their overall business goals, with final grades reflecting not only the deliverable but how well the project was managed.
Scott helped to bring the program to Bauer College in 2004, early in his tenure with the college, after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for two dozen years (including service in Vietnam) and earning a doctoral degree in chemistry from Colorado State University.
“I was formally training to be a Ph.D. chemist, and when the company found out that I liked computers, they asked me to help model reactors,” Scott said. “I started in the chemical process industry dealing with computers and people, which is what management information systems is all about.”
When he returned to Houston and joined the Bauer faculty in 1999, Scott also established himself as a fixture in community service, volunteering on the board of directors for many organizations, including the Houston Food Bank, the United Way and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston.
“When I started teaching MIS at Bauer, I looked around and said, ‘We have all these great courses, but we need to give students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned,’” Scott said. “I used my contacts in the nonprofit community and offered to have students come out and help.”
More than a decade later, approximately 2,000 students and 800 nonprofits have benefitted from Scott’s idea. Students have the option to pick clients and work on projects that have meaning for them, with food banks, bereavement services and home medical care all on the list of previous partners.
“The community certainly gets value from this course, while our students are learning project management skills, participating in service activity and being mentored by senior executives,” Scott said.
The response from nonprofit clients has been positive, he added.
“These organizations are typically focused on their passion — whether it’s the Boys and Girls Club or a women’s health clinic, they’ve invested in their passion,” Scott said. “For our students to come along and offer help, it’s a win-win because the organization gets free IT services, and our students get to deal with real business problems and people.”
In the future, he’d like to expand the course to impact more members of the campus community and Houston area.
“There are 30,000 non-profits in the Houston area that need accounting, marketing, management and financial help,” Scott said. “These are things that Bauer students can contribute, and it would be wonderful to get more people involved.”