When Rodney Verhoeff, M.S., a resident instructor and senior program manager, joined the Heider College of Business’ Marketing and Management Department as a full-time faculty member, he had been with Creighton for nearly five years already. He began his academic career at the University as an adjunct for Creighton Business Institute (CBI); he taught project management certificate courses to practicing business professionals and then assumed a temporary position with DoIT as a project manager.
Business was not on his radar early in his career. Having graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a B.S. in natural resources and then earning an MS in soil and water science, Verhoeff initially was an environmental scientist. During the last 20 years, he has worked for large consulting firms, served as the inaugural executive director of the Niobrara Council, lobbied Congress, crafted legislation pertaining to water conservation and built his own management consulting business. All were rewarding, but still left Verhoeff with a “nagging feeling” that he had a different calling.
“I felt it was time to rethink how I could best help others,” says Verhoeff. “Interestingly, this led me to teaching where I could relate to students and their quest for knowledge. I think teaching lets me have a closer connection with people and allows me to see their growth as they progress in their learning journey.”
Around the time he was reflecting on a career change, Verhoeff and his wife, who ran a tea business together, found themselves instructing people about the beverage – its production, varietals, even how to brew a proper cup. They soon were teaching tea classes at a community college, and Verhoeff added classes in project management to his CV.
“I gradually moved into the professional development setting and then on to post-secondary institutions and corporate environments to help others learn,” he states. “I shifted from what I thought would be a lifelong career as an environmental scientist and researcher to one that worked more directly with people.”
“As I progressed in these roles, I gained a greater understanding and appreciation for many business aspects, including strategic planning, finance and budgeting, and leadership,” Verhoeff continues. “I really think this integration of a strong science and research background, good business acumen and an inherent need to help others has led me to the profession of teaching.”
In addition to teaching graduate courses, Verhoeff continues to administer badge and certificate programs through CBI and looks forward to continuing the development and delivery of online courses in Heider’s MBA program. A proponent of hands-on learning, he augments curriculum with engaging team activities, guest presentations, site visits and shadowing opportunities.
“My hope is that I can inspire my students to push ahead and perhaps go beyond their normal comfort zone to really challenge themselves to look at problems in a new light and, in the process, help them find their passion,” he says.