Business Communication Director Honored for Outstanding Teaching
Dr. McClain Watson accepts the President's Teaching Excellence Award during Honors Convocation last semester.
As a humanities scholar in graduate school, Dr. McClain Watson never imagined he would teach business communication.
With an academic background in rhetoric and the history of science, Watson struggled to develop arguments that would convince his humanities students of the relevance of writing and speaking when he first began teaching.
But when Watson came to UT Dallas to create the business communication program in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, the argument instantly clicked with his business-minded students.
“They were better primed to hear that message because they understood that those skills could help them get into a room with someone they wanted to meet, perform better in an interview or speak to a customer who was upset about something,” said Watson, a clinical associate professor of Organizations, Strategy and International Management and director of business communication programs in the Jindal School.
Almost eight years after coming to UT Dallas, Watson was honored for his dedication to helping students with these skills inside and outside the classroom. He received a President’s Teaching Excellence Award during Honors Convocation on May 14.
“With teaching, you’re always playing the long game,” Watson said. “You never really know if what you’re doing will make a difference for every student. I think that makes awards like this a little sweeter because you see and feel that you are making a difference. It’s very gratifying, but I hope to channel that energy into doing an even better job moving forward.”
About Dr. McClain Watson
Clinical associate professor, Organizations, Strategy and International Management
Director, Business Communication Programs
Research areas: History of business writing, rhetoric of management and strategy.
Each year, the award is presented to one tenured professor, one non-tenured faculty member and one teaching assistant who showcase the central role teaching and mentoring play in the mission of the University. Watson received a medallion and a monetary award.
As director of business communication programs, Watson leads six full-time faculty members who teach three courses required of JSOM undergraduates. Enrollment in these classes reaches as many as 1,500 students per semester.
Both in his classroom and through directing the Business Communication Center, Watson prepares students for life after graduation and helps them develop into marketable and energetic professionals, he said.
For example, in his advanced business communication class, students create Professional Online Portfolios that help them stand out in their job searches and give companies a fuller picture of their skills and personality.
In their nomination letters, students called Watson, “down to earth,” “approachable,” and “very thoughtful.” They wrote of Watson keeping his door open to them, challenging them to do better projects and making sure they absorbed information, rather than relying on memorization.
“He has a way of communicating effectively that makes learning fun and interesting,” another student wrote.
Watson said that although the University and the Jindal School focus a lot of energy on helping students prepare for getting a job, instructors should remind students that a job is not the end itself, but only a means to an end.
“The larger end is being happy and living a life where you’re challenged by your work and able to do things that interest you away from work,” Watson said. “I try to bring a little bit of that liberal arts mentality into a business school context.”
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