Dr. Marla Thompson

Dr. Marla Thompson
Giving It Her All
Faculty: Adjunct Professor – Business and Marketing
November 2018

Dr. Marla Thompson, adjunct professor since 2010, teaches Marketing courses, Business courses, Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility courses, and Diversity courses here at Life University. Thompson focuses on imparting knowledge to many types of learners, such as traditional, non-traditional, undergraduate, graduate as well as doctoral students – all seeking knowledge for successful careers in the global marketplace. And now, Thompson adds another career accomplishment in the form of a Doctor of Business Administration from Columbia Southern University in Alabama.

Thompson is from, as she puts it, “one of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest” – St. Paul, Minnesota. She was raised in a two-parent household as one of six children under the guidance of strict disciplinarians. Her late father’s career spanned more than 34 years working for a railroad, while her mother was a career elementary school administrator who retired after 30 years of service. In Thompson’s family, education was essential in her household and was instilled as a part of their upbringing by caring, but tough parents. Thompson says, “The question was never ‘are you going to college?’ but instead it was always ‘what college will you attend?’”

In 2008, Thompson took the opportunity to “utilize my skills, share with others and do something bigger than myself,” when she began her career at Life University when she came on board as a Marketing Event Coordinator. In this capacity, she planned and executed campus-wide events for students and staff alike. One such event of which she is most proud is a Fall CElebration event called “LIFE Shining Star” – a talent show mirrored after the then-popular American Idol program. Then in 2010, Thompson was able to transition from a staff position to a member of the Life University faculty when she became an adjunct professor in what she says is “the BEST place at LIFE – teaching business administration.”

“The daily challenges I experience at LIFE are what motivate me to help my students succeed.” And with that in mind, Thompson works daily to incorporate “Authentic Assessments” (AA) into her course offerings. She explains that AAs are, “when students are asked to use core knowledge attained from the assigned text to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate 21st century application of essential knowledge and skills to provide valuable solutions to everyday problems.” Thus, at the conclusion of the course being taught, her students are asked to individually and collectively use the knowledge they have gained to fashion a presentation that effectively and creatively incorporates said knowledge. As a matter of fact, Thompson has, for the past four years, served as a presenter at the Lilly Conference for Teaching & Learning where she shares her learning tools, such as the use of AAs in the classroom.

For students, both current and prospective, Thompson wants them to know that they cannot do it all by themselves but should seek mentors and not be afraid to ask for help in navigating the educational process. She adds that students should be present, humble and pay their gifts forward to others who need them. She concludes with, “And, let your haters be your motivators, and since you may pass this way just once, give it your all.”

In addition, during Thompson’s doctoral dissertation research, she learned the University has a plethora of untapped, underutilized resources of which she now strives to make all of her students aware. One of those resources is the Drs. Sid E. and Nell K. Williams Library where the staff proved itself to be an invaluable asset to Thompson … and with awareness, can be to all Life University students as well.

Thompson completed the defense of her dissertation, “A Gender Analysis of Work Ethic Behavior of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials,” this past June 19 and officially graduated on October 19. She said of that momentous time, “The hooding ceremony at Foley Event Center in front of approximately 4,000 people was AWESOME!”

We congratulate Dr. Marla Thompson for this life-changing accomplishment and thank her for the valuable knowledge and inspiration she imparts to her students here at Life University.



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