Service-Learning through Business Administration Flourishes with Dr. Gay Albright

“For business professionals, it’s not what you do but how you do it,” says Dr. Gay Albright, assistant teaching professor and director of International Relations at MU’s Trulaske College of Business. “All professionals communicate and perform similar tasks, but how you do those things is what makes you successful.”

This is the motto Albright is working to instill in her Business Administration 3500 and 4500 students who, as part of the course, are partnered through the Office of Service-Learning with either a volunteer or internship position. Business Administration 3500 students serve up to 45 hours throughout a semester as volunteers for local organizations. Business Administration 4500 students are placed in an internship position where they will serve 120 hours over the course of the semester.

According to Albright, these service-learning components, referred to in the course as organizational field experiences, are important because they put students into situations where they learn first-hand what it’s like to be in a business setting. Students perform real work for organizations with real needs and have the opportunity to make a strategic change. Along with that, Albright says that more than ever before businesses are placing an emphasis on service.

“Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum, they are a part of the community,” Albright says. “Students need to be aware of who customers are, who lives in the community, what the community deals with and more. Lots of companies where students would like to work build in service and encourage it because it helps them know the community and get involved. I want students to really think about the impact.”

And if anyone knows about the complex inner-workings of the business world, it’s Albright.

Albright received her Bachelor of Science in Business Education from Missouri State University in 1984. Following graduation, she attended Saint Louis University, where she obtained her Master of Business Administration in 1992. She is now pursuing a doctorate in education with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from MU.

Besides a thorough education in business, Albright also has the experience.

From 1987 to 1990, Albright worked as the human resources administrator at Arch Coal, Inc. in St. Louis. She transitioned from this position to the Employment and Training Manager at The Dial Corporation, where she quickly moved up to Labor Relations Manager and then Human Resources Manager. In 1993, Albright became a director of human resources at Colgate Palmolive. Her first position there was in the U.S. Manufacturing department located in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Her second position was in U.S. Sales in New York. Her final position there was in the Oral Pharmaceuticals department in Canton, Massachusetts. In each of these positions, Albright managed all functional areas of Human Resources while implementing organizational redesign and continuous improvement strategies.

So how did Albright end up teaching at MU?

“I always wanted to teach, but when I had the opportunities to get out into the work force I took them,” Albright says. “Following, I wanted to get back to the Midwest.”

In 2002, Albright was hired as an adjunct professor in the Trulaske College of Business to teach management courses, such as Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management and Topics in Management. In 2006, she became the Director of Business Development at the Missouri Training Institute (located in the College of Business). Albright accepted her current position with the university in October 2012.

“For me, the goal is for students to do three things – receive practical application of business skills, understand that what they’re learning is transferrable and, ideally, continue to serve in some capacity,” Albright says.

Dr. Anne-Marie Foley, director of the Office of Service-Learning, says it’s obvious the impact Albright’s curriculum has on students.

“Every semester I’m excited by the skills and professionalism that College of Business students bring into the Columbia community,” Foley says. “It is always exciting when students from every walk of campus life find out how their skills empower the lives of others, but this is particularly true for what the College of Business students are doing in Columbia.”

“Whether students want to start their own business or work for a Fortune 500 company, an understanding of their community is key,” says Cara Gallup, program coordinator for the MU Office of Service-Learning. “Employers want workers to serve on not-for-profit boards or support their partners in education.  Companies know that if they support their community, their community supports them.  It’s an important cycle for our students to understand, and they learn a lot about organizational development and entrepreneurial leadership through their service experiences, which Dr. Albright has done an amazing job at providing.”

Albright, however, remains modest.

“I couldn’t do what I need to do in my courses without the Office of Service-Learning staff,” Albright says. “Knowing that the office will vet employers, train the students and employers, and manage the whole process is phenomenal and makes the whole process so much easier. It’s a pleasure working with everyone.”

To learn more about Dr. Albright, visitbusiness.missouri.edu/people-directory/gay-albright. To learn more about service-learning programs offered through the College of Business, contact the Office of Service-Learning at servicelearning@missouri.edu, 573-882-0227 or stop by 208 Lowry Hall.