Walsh appointed chair of Marketing department

July 28, 2014
Mike Walsh

Anybody who works in marketing can tell you it's a discipline that changes daily. Over the past few years, the B&E Department of Marketing has transformed to respond to new marketing practices and better meet the needs of students' future employers.

A few of these changes include participation in regional and national marketing and sales competitions, the establishment of a highly ranked Professional Sales Institute, the implementation of a doctoral program and the switch from a two-year to a four-year college that has allowed students more time to develop and pursue their marketing passions.

Many of the big adjustments are now complete, and the department is reaping the benefits and enjoying its new resources. Under the direction of new chair Dr. Michael Walsh, the Marketing Department will continue to climb to new heights, and he's very, very excited.

"There have been some really cool things going on here," Walsh said. "It's an exciting opportunity to (serve as chair) at a time like this."

Walsh hopes to continue and increase student participation in experiential learning activities like competitions and collaborations with other departments at WVU. While learning the theory of the discipline is a core part of the collegiate experience, application is also crucial. He said he has received lots of feedback from former students that these experiential learning experiences helped prepare them for the real world.

"One month ago, I received an email from a student on the Taziki's marketing team," said Walsh, who mentored the team that won the Taziki's Intercollegiate Competition in 2013. "He got a job at a high-tech startup on the west coast. He said (his new employer) had never heard about something like the competition and was so captivated by it, that that's how he got the job."

"To think ‘Wow, I helped make that happen,' just makes everything so worthwhile. I really love what I do here. What goes on here is such important work, and there's a sense of satisfaction when you do it well," he said.

For Walsh, taking the helm of the department is an opportunity to draw on his experiences as a manager in the corporate world. Although academia runs differently than the private sector, management and leadership are still vital. Walsh said he is looking forward to building consensus to advance the causes of the department.

"There are many logistics of providing collegiate education," Walsh said. "We need to make sure we're offering the right courses at the right time. What was taught five years ago in some ways may now be obsolete, so we are constantly having to rethink. We need to respond to the environment around us."

Prior to his move to academia, Walsh spent many years in the corporate world in a variety of general management advertising and marketing positions. The bulk of his experience was in business-to-business, high technology and consumer marketing communications.

"As much as I am proud of my corporate experience — and it's a critical part of who I am — there's simply no comparison to the rewards that you feel from what you do (in academia) and the impact you can have on people," he said.

"I am very excited to work with Mike in this new role," said Dr. Karen Donovan, associate dean for academic affairs, who has previously served as chair of the marketing department. "I can speak to the wonderful team-player Mike is. He is a natural leader, an excellent teacher and a researcher with a national reputation."

Walsh inherited a department in great shape thanks to former chair Dr. Andy Wood, who has accepted a position at James Madison University. Wood joined B&E in 2004 as an assistant professor and was appointed an associate professor in the summer of 2010. Many of the aforementioned changes happened under his leadership.

"We want to thank Andy Wood for all he's done for B&E and specifically the department of marketing, and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors," said Jose "Zito" Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean. "We are counting (on Walsh) to continue to take the department to new heights."

Walsh hopes to do just that.

"It's a matter of continuing to do what we do and being as good at it as we possibly can," he said. "We have supremely talented faculty, and the neat thing is we have a lot of diversity in the faculty with many different interests and passions. That gives us a lot of strength as we move forward, and my challenge is to figure out how we continue to celebrate that strength, take advantage of it, and grow even beyond it."

Walsh has served at WVU since 2006 and teaches courses in marketing principles, marketing strategy and Ph.D. level classes. His research interests include public policy considerations in marketing and consumer health issues and customer resistance to change. His research on branding in regards to logos has been mentioned in national outlets like Time Magazine, Advertising Age, Science Daily, BizJournals.com and U.S. News and World Report, just to name a few. With a smile, Walsh shared that he thoroughly enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame when he made the front page of the New York Times when carrying the Olympic Torch down Fifth Avenue in New York City for the 1984 Olympics.