Johnson-Busbin named recipient of UNC system teaching honor

Julie Johnson-Busbin will receive the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching during WCU’s undergraduate commencement that begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6.

Julie Johnson-Busbin says she strives to make her sales and marketing classes relevant for Western Carolina University students by presenting information that is applicable to their professional and personal lives and to help them succeed in the business world – but that’s only half the story.

In addition to helping students gain practical knowledge and skills, Johnson-Busbin said she hopes they leave her classroom with an improved outlook about themselves and their potential for success.

Johnson-Busbin, professor of sales and marketing in WCU’s College of Business, was recently named one of the top teachers in the University of North Carolina system. She is among 17 recipients of the 2017 UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

“Don’t get me wrong. I do believe it is important to provide classes that are relevant, engaging and useful,” Johnson-Busbin said. “My goal is to afford students the chance to try new skills, receive feedback, critique themselves and try again. I like to push students when they haven’t reached as far as they are capable, yet provide support when they’ve stretched as far as they can.”

Still, Johnson-Busbin said she would be hard-pressed to define her teaching purely in terms of whether or not her students pass her tests or ace their role-playing sessions. “Success for me is about whether I’ve had a positive influence on how students think and feel,” she said. “What I would argue is that often the actual content of the class is not what students remember several years down the road. I believe that it is helping students better understand themselves and giving them insight into the potential that makes each one unique. I know this sounds like a lofty goal, and one that might even be unattainable, yet I find myself captivated by the idea that I might make a lasting impact on their lives.”

A host of Johnson-Busbin’s colleagues in WCU’s School of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sport Management, and Hospitality and Tourism and her former students agree that she does reach that goal, as evidenced by the testimonials they submitted to the Board of Governors award committee. WCU alumni now employed by companies such as E*TRADE, Financial Corp, United Parcel Service, Sherwin-Williams and IBM raved about her performance as a teacher and her impact on their success as students and professionals. A former student said Johnson-Busbin “has an innate ability to state the facts of the ‘real world’ to her students and prepare them for those realities better than any other educator I’ve been around. She also makes every attempt through her vast corporate network at bringing in Fortune 500 companies to present career opportunities for her qualified students, and then tracks their progression in those roles for years beyond graduation.”

One WCU colleague who formerly served as department head said Johnson-Busbin is the “total package: instructor extraordinaire, mentor, adviser, role model” and wrote about receiving emails in which alumni expressed appreciation for the instruction they received from Johnson-Busbin and credited her with helping them achieve career milestones.

Another colleague in the College of Business wrote that many company executives seek out WCU graduates who have been taught by Johnson-Busbin as potential employees and said her teaching and leadership in the sales and marketing curriculum “is producing tangible results for WCU students.”

Johnson-Busbin earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees in marketing at Georgia State University. She joined the WCU faculty in 1996. She has twice received the College of Business Creative and Innovative Teaching Award and is a three-time winner of the Board of Governors’ Creative and Innovative Teaching Award.

A member of the Board of Governors is scheduled to present the award to Johnson-Busbin during WCU’s undergraduate commencement that begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6. Johnson-Busbin also will speak at the Graduate School commencement ceremony set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 5.

Johnson-Busbin and other recipients of the UNC honor, representing an array of academic disciplines, were nominated by special committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure. Winners receive a commemorative bronze medallion and $12,500 cash prize.

Established by the Board of Governors in April 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the university system, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institution at least seven years, and no one may receive the award more than once.