Dr. Shontarius Aikens
Associate Professor of Management, Offutt School of Business

Please tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in the great state of Arkansas! In my career prior to coming to Concordia, I worked at the University of Arkansas, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University, and North Dakota State University. I’ve been teaching at the college level since 2007.

What did you study in college? What is your expertise and what drew you to that area of study?

My educational background and degrees are in a variety of disciplines: B.M. (music), M.Ed. (higher education), MBA (marketing and human resource management), and Ph.D. in Organization and Management (leadership). My areas of expertise are in the LMX leadership (leader-member exchange) and the scholarship of teaching.  I’m fascinated with how leaders and managers can utilize LMX leadership concepts to improve organizations. When it comes to the scholarship of teaching, I love sharing my knowledge with other educators around the country (and learning from them as well) in an effort to improve the quality of management education.

What brought you to Concordia and how long have you been teaching here?

I was looking for an opportunity where I could focus on teaching, which is my natural strength. Since Concordia College is dedicated to quality instruction for students, it was a perfect fit for me. I’ve been teaching at Concordia since the fall of 2016.

What courses do you teach? Which is your favorite and why?

I teach a variety of courses in the discipline of management: Principles of Management, Organizational Behavior, Business Analysis and Strategic Management, and Leadership. My favorite course to teach is the leadership course (BUSN 462/662). I enjoy helping students to develop their own personal leadership philosophy. I love hearing feedback from former students and Concordia alumni on how the Leadership Philosophy Portfolio project they completed in my leadership class has helped them in their careers after graduation.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? How does Concordia allow you to be passionate about your work?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is being in the classroom. I love the interaction with my students. And I love the freedom I have in the classroom to teach my way.

How does Concordia differ from other places you have worked?

Prior to coming to Concordia, my entire career has been at large public research universities. Due to the large size of classes at research schools, it can be challenging to get to know your students on a personal level. As a small private liberal arts teaching college, Concordia is different. At Concordia, there are lots of opportunities for me to interact with and mentor students.

What are some of your goals as an educator?

As an educator, there are three goals I want to accomplish in my courses: 1) to create a positive and engaging classroom culture that encourages a two-way learning process between the teacher and student, 2) to emphasize both technical knowledge and individual character development, and 3) to encourage students to become lifelong learners.

The Concordia business management program is designed to develop managers who are ethical and exhibit leadership qualities.”

Could you give an overview of Concordia’s business management program and share what careers management grads usually choose?

The Concordia business management program is designed to develop managers who are ethical and exhibit leadership qualities. In addition to developing the core knowledge in the four traditional functions of management (planning, organizing, leading, controlling), Concordia management students will have opportunities to develop expertise in discussing and analyzing situations that correspond to what managers face in real life. Additionally, we want to equip students with tools and strategies that will enable them to think critically and develop innovative solutions to challenging problems. Since management is a broad discipline and management skills are needed in virtually every organization, there are many career opportunity paths for Concordia management graduates.

What type of student takes your management courses? What characteristics stand out to you about successful management majors?

Students who take my management courses are typically interested in putting into practice what they are learning in the classroom. It’s one thing to know about management concepts. It’s another thing to have the competency to apply management concepts. During my years of teaching at Concordia, I’ve observed that successful management majors also possess procedural knowledge (knowing how to do something), situational knowledge (knowing the appropriate situational conditions for when something should be done), and reflective knowledge (clearly articulating their reasons and rationale for their decisions).

What recommendations do you have for students when thinking about graduate school?

Be sure to pick an area that you are passionate about and that you truly enjoy. When you pursue a graduate degree, you are starting the path toward becoming a specialist in an area. As a result, you will be spending a lot of time reading literature and being exposed to topics in that discipline. So, you want to pick an area that you truly enjoy and aligns with your natural talents and abilities. I’d also recommend that the student get advice from either a current or recent graduate of the program on how to make the most of their graduate school experience.

Can you tell us about your role in the Midwest Academy of Management and what that entails?

The Midwest Academy is a regional organization that provides opportunities for scholars and practitioners to share and advance knowledge in the area of management. I am currently the program chair/president-elect of the Midwest Academy of Management.  My major role will be to plan the 2024 Midwest Academy of Management Conference to be hosted at Concordia College in October 2024.

What academies and conferences have you presented at? What can you tell us about your experience in sharing your work?

I have presented my research at the following conferences over the years: the Academy of Management, the Management and Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference, and the Midwest Academy of Management. It’s always interesting to share my research and my ideas at conferences for two reasons. First, I get feedback on ways to improve my work or ideas, which helps me to improve my skills as a college professor at Concordia. Second, it’s really kind of cool to receive an email out of the blue or to have a conversation with a professor from another college or university who tells me that they had success in their classroom because of what they learned from attending one of my conference sessions in the past.

What do you enjoy most about the Fargo-Moorhead community and in what ways are you active outside of Concordia?

Whenever I travel, I tell people that the Fargo-Moorhead community is the best kept secret in the Midwest. If you can deal with the cold weather and snow, then this is one of the best places to live in the country. The people here are nice. It’s not too big, but it’s not too small. You can pretty much get to anywhere you want to go in a short amount of time without dealing with a lot of traffic. My hobbies and activities outside of Concordia include going to the movies, bowling, golf, and voiceovers/voice acting.

Do you have any advice for students considering Concordia?

One of the most important decisions you will make is where you choose to pursue your college degree. If you are looking for a school where the professors care about your learning and about you as a person, Concordia is where you want to be. We want you to be successful not only in your future career but also in your personal life as well.

Published December 2023