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Why you should look for real-world experience on your professors' resumes

If you or someone you know is in the process of deciding between schools, you know lots of factors go into making that choice. In addition to tuition costs, location, degrees offered, and everything else to consider, there’s another crucial part of your future college adventure. Your potential instructors’ knowledge and experience will greatly affect your time in school and what you have to show for it when you leave.

How we can help

First, you’ll want to research your potential major’s faculty. OCU has a directory to make this easy for you; just check out the faculty and staff listed in the department you plan to be a part of. You can learn a lot from a professor’s bio before you enroll in his or her class (or even apply). For all the stuff you can’t learn from reading someone’s bio, their emails are listed near the bottom so you can reach out if you’d like to know more. Everyone at our university (and at most universities) is here to help you choose what’s best for you.

If it’s so important, is experience something OCU professors have?

You betcha. In fact, it’s one of the highest priorities on the recruitment checklists. We’ve compiled some faculty features below so you can see what we’re talking about.


Dr. James Ma
Associate Professor of Finance 

Quick highlights about Dr. Ma 

  • L.L.B. in Political Science – Beijing University
  • M.A. in Political Science – University of New Orleans
  • Ph.D. in Finance – University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Research on socially responsible investing cited in influential business media such as CNBC, BizWeek Germany, Bloomberg-BusinessWeek, and Wealth Magazine
  • Led his team at Henan Machinery Import and Export Corp. in China to win the 1992 Provincial International Trade Knowledge Competition and was named Honor Employee for the achievement
  • Came to the United States to pursue graduate education in 1995

Dr. Ma came to OCU after working as a certified international trade representative for four years in China and as an equity trader in New York City for six years. He studies the competitiveness of socially screened mutual funds vs. conventional mutual funds, as well as whether specific strategies such as green investing can generate competitive returns. His biggest pastime is reciting digits of pi.

“My experiences greatly enhanced my ability to teach effectively, bridging classroom knowledge with real-world applications. Investment is a very hard subject to teach. It has lots of theories that can be hard to understand, and some concepts seem counterintuitive to students. Having extensive real-world experience dealing with the market and difficult products such as financial derivatives has given me the ability to break down abstract concepts and relate them to easy-to-understand everyday phenomena. I make sure what students learn in the classroom is valid real-world knowledge. I always use local companies as examples whenever I can. For every class of mine, students learn how to access and analyze real data from the market. For higher level investment students, I dedicate a whole chapter on common mistakes by investors, which I tell the students they don’t have to repeat the same lessons that I learned the hard way.” – Dr. Ma


The Rev. Dr. Leslie Long
Associate Professor of Religious Education/Youth Ministry

Quick highlights about the Rev. Dr. Leslie Long

  • B.S. in Elementary Education – Oklahoma State University
  • M.Div. – Phillips Theological Seminary
  • Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, Early Childhood – University of Oklahoma
  • Ordained Elder and certified Christian Educator in The United Methodist Church

Dr. Long has held several ministerial and pastoral positions within United Methodist churches, including Yukon First UMC, Selecman UMC, Bethel UMC, and BridgeView UMC. She also spent seven years in campus ministry, both at Northeastern State University and the University of Central Oklahoma. She received awards as both outstanding UM student and alumni from Phillips Theological Seminary as well as Phi Mu’s Woman of the Year. For her work empowering women in The UMC, she was honored with the Francis Willard Award from the Oklahoma Annual Conference. During her time at OCU, Dr. Long has taken on a study abroad trip to Ireland, which occurs every three years. 

“After years in ministry, I am aware of the many struggles that come with one’s calling. I encourage my students not only to grow in knowledge but to remain spiritually connected and healthy. I have worked with people of all ages, and I know the importance of developmentally appropriate education and how it can enhance faith development. Ministry is a lived profession, and it is crucial to understand the many aspects of our work. Without my professional experience, I would not have as much to share with the students. Culture changes, and I learn from them as they learn from me. My religion classes are discussion based for that very reason. We are reading, living and processing the information we have heard and experienced to grow in our abilities to reach people in the church and beyond.” – Dr. Long


Dr. Michael Williams
Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing

Quick highlights about Dr. Williams

  • Emeritus Professor of Marketing – Illinois State University
  • B.B.A. in Marketing – University of Oklahoma
  • M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing – University of Oklahoma
  • Ph.D. in Marketing, Statistics and Communication – Oklahoma State University
  • Has authored 64 peer-reviewed publications and 14 textbooks

Dr. Williams brought his 30 years of hands-on business experience to OCU to share his knowledge with students. He has successfully generated more than $3.5 million in research grants and specializes in business performance issues: buyer/seller interactions, interpersonal communication and influence, customer development and retention, effective leadership, and organizational culture. He also helped the Meinders School of Business become AACSB accredited, which is the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. 

There are several entries in his bio, but Dr. Williams’ most prestigious achievements include a 2014 Marvin Jolson Award for Best Contribution to Selling and Sales Management Practice and the Mu Kappa Tau Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding scholarly contributions, which had only been awarded to five individuals in the global honor society’s 38-year existence. (Since this award is given by industry peers, this is a pretty big deal.)

“If you look at what is taught in schools, most education is done out of textbooks. It’s mostly theory, rote and quantified. The theory is essential to learning because it’s what makes experiences replicable, but it’s not the whole picture. When you try to take theory into practice, nothing’s black and white. All of a sudden, you’ve got the reality of ambiguity, and you have to make some adjustments. It’s imperative that you combine theory with experience. If you’ve got people who have that experience, they can enrich that learning opportunity for their students. They can give them a huge head start by making that adjustment from learning theory to applying it in the workplace.” – Dr. Williams