A cool breeze escapes beneath the entrance door to the Department of Management Sciences. A slow creak is heard when the heavy door is slowly pulled open letting the once cool breeze disappear into the air – silence. Doors left and right are shut with small sounds of fingers lightly clacking along the keyboard.
And at the end of narrow hallway, Dr. Ryan Jessup’s corner office is seen left open releasing a small, faint light.
“I’d like to think of myself as like Louis and Clark,” said Jessup. “Just like how they went out in discovery and explore new topics, I think I’m trying to do the same thing.”
During May 2017 Commencement, Jessup, assistant professor of marketing, was named Teacher of the Year for his efforts inside and outside the classroom. Filled with a love for constant learning, Jessup has a degree in marketing and cognitive psychology.
“It was very unexpected, and I’m very thankful for it,” Jessup said, his hands softy closed on his lap. “And I do know there are lots of other good professors who haven’t won that I think deserve to win as well. I think it is quite an honor and just very humble.”
His office is filled with books, pieces of artwork created by his daughter and a giant whiteboard scribed with numbers, charts and words that make no sense to the untrained eye. On the corner of the board, a small list consisting of past, present and future research projects are shown with pieces of the lists altered, erased or simply set aside.
Jessup said he realized his love for research just after he graduated college and began working as a church pew salesman in Atlanta.
And after a few years of being on the front lines of the selling regime, Jessup realized that he actually didn’t enjoy selling. Instead, he became curious as to why someone would buy pew ‘A’ versus pew ‘B’ and how they came to that decision.
“I can remember going and visiting these churches to sell them the church pews, and I realized I was more interested in why a church bought from me or didn’t buy from me as opposed to whether they bought from me,” Jessup said. “I realized that’s not the right attitude for a salesperson. That’s the right attitude for like an academic to have.”
Since then, Jessup has been asking the real questions: Why do we buy something? What makes one demographic more susceptible to purchasing a product than another? Can we quantify if a marriage will last or not? Although these questions may seem a bit unorthodox, Jessup believes constant research can answer some of life’s most complex questions.
Dr. Mark Phillips, chair of the management department, said Jessup has helped the department by focusing on working with students.
“Ryan has played a key role in helping us do research involving students,” Phillips said. “Besides being one of our top researchers on his own, he has consistently helped students work with him.”
Working on over ten research projects at different times and phases, it is evident Jessup has enough work to go around. His dad-like fashion and wide eyes compliment his eagerness to learn and teach. Even when speaking, his vocabulary is utter proof of how educated he is just in case you don’t catch glimpse of his doctoral degree leaning proudly on his desk.
“Ryan’s students find that he teaches complex material in a way they can understand,” Phillips said, “but more importantly he is actually more concerned with helping them grow and mature, which for most people is a huge gift to receive.”
Jessup has become the face of pure energetic curiosity in the College of Business Administration.
Dr. Sarah Easter, assistant professor of management, said Jessup is always ready and eager to start new research projects with whomever is willing.
“Dr. Jessup is constantly thinking about new research ideas and engaging in discussions with his colleagues and students about new ways of looking at the world of decision making,” said Easter in an email, “[He’s] very passionate about making the marketing topics that he teaches accessible, relevant and practical for his students. And, he does so in his own unique and quirky way.”
However, Jessup does more than just research. Starting up one of the faculty intramural soccer teams, Jessup loves to be a part of a community just as much as he likes studying them.
“He’s the father of those teams,” said Don Pope, associate professor of department of management sciences.
Pope said Jessup always brought a lot of family and collegiality to the campus – something he is truly grateful for.
And just as each project is slowly erased from the whiteboard hovering over Jessup’s desk, another idea pops into his mind. The project is written on the left corner now accompanied by other current projects. Looking proudly at the projects still left on the board, Jessup knows he still has much more research to do and a long way to go.