Students in Nick Watanabe’s Sports Economics and Finance course are used to experiencing teaching techniques far beyond the usual lecture format. But this morning they had to put their field trip to the MU Student Rec Complex on hold for something even more exciting – Watanabe, assistant teaching professor in parks, recreation and tourism, was surprised with a Golden Apple Award from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources for going above and beyond in teaching and advising.
Mark Ryan, director of the School of Natural Resources, and David Vaught, chair of the department of parks, recreation and tourism, nominated Watanabe, who has built the department’s popular Sport Management program.
“Without his leadership, the incredible success of the Sport Management program could not have happened,” Ryan said in his nomination.
Watanabe was hired in August 2010, soon after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to help create the program.
“The program had no curriculum to offer, but with Dr. Watanabe’s guidance by spring 2011 we were up and running and soon to become one of the fastest growing programs on campus,” Vaught said. “Dr. Watanabe quickly became the face of our program advising students, and teaching a variety of new courses. His teaching style immediately created a level of comfort within the department and students were attracted to his enthusiasm and understanding of the profession.”
Watanabe advises nearly 40 students per semester, provides faculty support for the department’s honors fraternity and travels with students to career fairs. He has worked to establish practicums with athletic departments, sport organizations and communities. An honors section of his Sports Economics and Finance course is now available and he will soon offer an online version of his Business of Sports course.
“As a teacher his methods are soundly based on well thought-out objectives, with a delivery of Socratic questioning that encourages students to critically think, participate and come to class prepared,” Vaught said. “The classroom is active with students using both technology and chalk to show their assimilation of current and applied knowledge earmarked by Dr. Watanabe’s personal affection for sport and the business of sport.”
He will lead one of CAFNR’s Summer Academies for high school students in July. The Stats & Sports Academy is designed for students who find math fascinating and want to apply it to real-life challenges in the sport industry. Students will work with business analytics to examine the performance of sport teams on and off the field. Watanabe’s most recent professional publications have dealt with price dispersion in Major League Baseball.
“Dr. Watanabe is approachable and maintains contact with students at all times. He has been and still is a builder of our program and someone who created an academic home for our students with an emphasis on excellence, pride and professionalism,” added Vaught.
CAFNR’s Sport Management program aims to develop students into productive and highly successful sport managers by continuously analyzing sport in a critical and insightful manner over the course of research, teaching and hands-on experience. The program now has approximately 450 students.
To be eligible for the Golden Apple award, faculty members must demonstrate clarity, variability and enthusiasm. They need to be accessible to students, helpful, personable and act as a mentor who students can turn to for advice and direction. Nominees should be well-prepared for classes and encourage creative work. They should demonstrate how they provide opportunities for learning, teaching to clearly established objectives and expectations.
For more photos, visit CAFNR’s Flickr page at https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXKoi4X.