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October 30, 2019

Faculty Spotlight: Ervin Starr, Ph.D. Professor of Management; Director, Undergraduate Business Program

  • Ph.D. in Organizational Studies | University of Albany
  • C.A.S. in Theology | Seminary of the East
  • B.A. in Economics | SUNY Oneonta

What brought you to Roberts?

As a Ph.D. student at the University at Albany – I was given the opportunity to teach the capstone undergraduate business course. I was wrestling with the question of what to do next, either move into a teaching role or to work in international development. It was a time of seeking and asking for God’s direction – and knew that I wanted to bring all of myself (including my core identity as a follower of Jesus) to my work. So I began to look at Christian Liberal Arts colleges to teach and Faith Organizations like World Vision and Compassion International for development work. It was really another Ph.D. student who graduated and took a position at Trevecca Nazarene outside of Nashville who encouraged me to look at Roberts. That winter I came as a candidate and was offered a position to start the next academic year. I started in July of 2001.

When did you start becoming interested in teaching business classes?

My subjects are broad – but best encompassed by the intersection of business and development work. In business, you may see the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or hear about Business as Missions in a faith-based institution. I am passionate about integrating the concepts of social entrepreneurship into the Management major I help to oversee. I think teaching business is critical. Almost all of us will owe our careers to others who took the leap to start an organization (typically a for-profit business). Those "good jobs" exist because someone created an organization that can employ me. I wanted to encourage the next generation of job creators, not just job takers.

What is an interesting fun fact about you?

I’ve traveled to approximately 35 countries. On a recent sabbatical, I was able to visit a number of campuses to determine what is and is not working well in the field of entrepreneurship/social entrepreneurship education. I went to Indonesia and Rwanda to see economic development efforts – at the macro national scale in Indonesia with Roberts Alumni – Russell Toth who is faculty at the University of Sydney. And at the micro level with Business Development specialist Dan Munkittrick.

How do you serve the community at Roberts?

Support of Enactus, work with the Honors programs, Faculty Athletic Mentor for Men’s Basketball, various task-forces, coaching work with area business persons, help lead international trips for Roberts students and hosting students in our home. My wife, Carrie Starr, is the Director of Advancement for Northeastern Seminary and was previously a faculty member.

How do you serve your community?

Life-group Leader, small business coach, writing with my wife on issues of marriage, engaged in community development projects locally/abroad and sometimes serving on non-profit boards.

Share about an academic highlight from your time at Roberts?

Co-authoring two marriage books with my wife, Carrie. I also enjoy working to streamline Master’s degrees for undergraduates.

What your favorite thing about teaching?

Building a connection with students that enables me to speak into their life. Working on real projects to improve our community and the lives of others.

Is there a spiritual experience or a story of a student who has been transformed?

It is a story that fits the names of many students…but watching students embrace faith in an active way – as they live out their beliefs serving others in our local community. Similarly, is seeing the world-view of students broadened and deepen through short-term international development trips. Seeing students who grow in faith, but also in confidence – so that they can impact the places God has led them to.

What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

Always stay humble enough to learn. If you can envision something…then it is only a question of if you will be willing to make it real.

What is one highlight from your time at Roberts?

Seeing the Enactus team on the final 4 stage (now 3 different times), but the first was the sweetest.

What is your favorite quote or verse and why?

Louis Pasteur said “Chance favors the prepared mind.” It reminds me that the mix of timing and God’s intervention (chance) along with our own best efforts are the point of extraordinary results.

Student Insight:

Katelynn Jenkins‘20 (International Business)

"Dr. Starr has taught me so many things as a business major; both inside the classroom and beyond. He is always practical. He shares real life examples that apply to in-class problems given his extensive experience internationally and locally with business. Dr. Starr brings stories and applicable situations to the classroom that makes the atmosphere more exciting and interesting. In one of his classes, he gives us money (yes, real money!) to work with to create profit; it gives the project a perspective of what to actually expect “out there in the real-world" when I graduate. He is always challenging me to think creatively and to always use innovative ideas no matter what I'm doing. The biggest thing that I have learned from Dr. Starr is to “always make what you do people-focused.” When you do that, you're going to succeed because you're always thinking about those around you, including your team and stakeholders."

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