Guest article by Stacey Robinson.

Masked and weaving through the one-way aisles at Home Goods (one of my favorite pandemic getaways), I noticed a kitschy desk plate imprinted with the phrase “self made.” My immediate thought, given the horde of academic role models who’ve impacted my academic career, was:  where are the more fitting “NOT self made” desk plates? My list of academic role models is ever growing — this brief nod is by no means comprehensive (Werner frowned upon 25 pages…) — so here is an abridged list.

From our first call when I inquired about Florida State University’s doctoral program, to our most recent semi-weekly text exchange, Mike Brady has been an exemplar academic role model. In addition to modeling a wide range of ideal academic characteristics such as delivering much needed critical feedback in a kind manner, being upbeat and encouraging, holding high research standards, having an unyielding work ethic, engaging in meaningful service, and rock star teaching, Mike lives a balanced life which includes family and friends as a top priority. He stood me up during my PhD program interview to take care of his flu-ridden family — which was a great introduction to a career that often neglects life balance. As his doctoral student, I had to comply with his non-negotiable conference cardinal rule: to make a new friend and not talk about research. After every conference he’d ask “so, who’d you meet?” This ultimately led to a number of friendships, and research partnerships. Mike’s networking skills are enviable, and not surprisingly he’s central to a majority of my academic relationships, especially within the services community.  

During my PhD program, at a visiting scholar talk Mike organized, I was lucky enough to meet Kay Lemon. Kay’s role in my academic career evolved from supportive scholar, to dissertation committee member, to co-author. She is quick to find something positive about a seemingly hopeless aspect of a review or project, and reminds me to celebrate the small wins (e.g., a paper invited for a major major super risky revision). Kay is authentic, outrageously smart, kind, supportive, and generous, all things I aspire to be. 

If you aren’t familiar with the scholars who graduated from Florida State University, here’s a quick description: they’re extraordinary. In his then-role as PhD director, Mike routinely brought former PhD students to campus in an effort to rouse the weary doc students, which is how I became acquainted with Clay Voorhees. Clay visited Tallahassee to share his sassy style of know-how, and teach a methods workshop — he quickly became one of my biggest supporters, and harshest critics. Clay always makes time to talk through the viability of a fresh (or not so fresh) idea, offer advice, and provide an opinion. He recently co-chaired a doc student with me (shout out to Dr. Alex Pratt!) and set an incredible example of how to mentor a student through a program. I was also lucky enough to be a couple of years behind Mike Giebelhausen, who is everything one could want in a doc program sibling — generous with his time and talent, constructively critical, and incredibly supportive.    

I am the beneficiary of mentors and colleagues who are role models not just because of their intellect, or research prowess, but because of their generosity, kindness, positivity, and authenticity. I’m not sure what it will feel like to have “made it,” but one thing I know for sure is that when that day comes I’ll be looking (hopefully without a mask and walking any direction I choose), for a “not self-made” desk plate — because I’ve had, and suspect I’ll continue to have, a lot of guidance. And, speaking of service scholars who are generous, talented, kind, and authentic, thank you for inviting me to write about my academic role models, Martin Mende, and Chiara Orsinger I invite you to share who helped you become so fabulous! 

Stacey Robinson
Assistant Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, University of Alabama