Word to the Wise

What do you Bring to the Table?

◆ 4 minute read

What do you Bring to the Table?

Much like our business students, our faculty and staff have overcome many challenges during the last two years. 

Whether it was in the classroom or out of their home office, they reorganized their semester plans, pivoted to a new learning environment and found unique ways to connect with students.

They have always been seen as the instructor or the advisor. However, they became much more to so many – a friend, a role model, a helping hand, a listening ear. 

They continued to show up, even while socially distancing, and bring new ideas to the table. 

A dedication to help students succeed. 
An innovative spirit. 
A fresh perspective. 
An open-door concept. 
A compassionate demeanor. 

All of our faculty and staff put their hearts into everything they do, and we are so thankful to call them family.

Over the holidays, we asked a few members of our Chambers College family what they bring to the table – literally and figuratively. 

After all, there is no one we would rather sit across the table from.

Dariane Drake – Diversity Coordinator and MIS Visiting Lecturer 

  • “As Diversity Coordinator, I bring a computer, my listening ears, a compassionate heart, an enthusiastic attitude, and an extra chair for those that don’t have a seat at the table. 
  • For holidays, I go straight for the sweets. I usually bring the pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake.” 

Laurel Cook – Associate Professor of Marketing 

  • “As a marketer, I bring a tech-forward approach to my roles as a researcher, teacher, and community member. 
  • “Every year, my family requests my homemade breads and sweet rolls. The smell of freshly-baked bread is heavenly!”

Brady McDonald – Enrollment Manager for Graduate Programs 

  • “As an enrollment manager, I serve in an outward-facing role for the Chambers College. Often, our prospective graduate students base their initial impression of the College, and West Virginia University as a whole, on my early interactions. First impressions are CERTAINLY the most important! Therefore, much like bread and grains form the base of the food pyramid, I see my work as forming the ‘base’ of a student’s graduate academic career at Chambers. This ‘base’ serves as the foundation that my colleagues in advising, retention, teaching, and administrative roles will further add to and solidify during the student’s brief time as a Mountaineer. I am honored to occupy such an invaluable ‘seat at the table’ when it comes to sharing in the successes of our graduate students and the institution.”
  • “I bring the bread or the rolls.” 

Michael Walsh: Marketing Chair and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs

  • “A laser-like focus on our students.” 
  • “I am a stuffing guy!”

AJ Aluri: Hospitality and Tourism Professor and HITLab Director 

  • “I combine my knowledge and interests, and focus on the areas of hospitality information technology and management and information systems, to show how these areas impact international hospitality organizations, society, and education.”
  • “I bring pecan pie.” 

Rachel Nieman: Director of Recruitment and Retention for Undergraduate Programs, and Director of Academic engagement Success Center

  • “I bring a passion for helping students succeed and a strategic, big picture view of how different components of the university (curriculum, student services, on campus involvement and administrative aspects) work together to bring the student experience to life.”
  • “Every year for my friendsgiving (we call it Thanksoween, it is a Thanksgiving dinner/ costume party) I make the turkey. I am proud that I learned to cook a turkey like an Appalachian grandma while in my 20s. I think the secret is all in the brine. I do not bring turkey to actual Thanksgiving dinner because I am blessed to still have two living Appalachian grandmas who also make excellent turkey!”

Joey VanDevender: Executive Director and Enrollment Manager for Graduate Programs 

  • “I engage with prospective graduate students and share my experiences to assist them on their academic journey as I welcome them to the Mountaineer family.”
  • “You can often find me bringing a homemade pie which is the cornerstone of generating family conversations.” 

Rebel Smith: Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs 

  • “A passion for student success and a desire to find better ways of doing things. I want to remove obstacles in the way of degree completion and improve processes. I’m a problem solver.”
  • “Garlic and cheese mashed potatoes and gravy.” 

John Saldanha: Sears Chair in Global Supply Chain Management and Associate Professor

  • “I bring a passion for innovation with a penchant for disruption fueled by unquenchable curiosity slaked by lifelong learning.” 
  • “I bring herb-crusted leg of lamb.”

Frank DeMarco: Teaching Associate Professor for Hospitality and Tourism Management

  • “My strength at my job is my experience and expertise in the hospitality industry.”
  • “I usually cook the turkey and my wife does the sides.”