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“Even now, all of my work and contributions combine education, work and service,” says Dr. Mark McDonald, a 1985 graduate of Warren Wilson College. Mark just completed his 18th year as a full-time faculty member in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Sport Management Department. “I never teach pure lecture or discussion classes,” he adds. “My students get out into the community and roll up their sleeves and learn through service to others.”
Mark graduated from Warren Wilson with a degree in psychology and went on to Tulane University where he earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Behavior/Development. He now holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in sport management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), where he is now an associate professor.
Mark has created several experiential learning classes, including the two he currently teaches—sport event management and sport event marketing. “Students in my sport event management class are responsible for managing all aspects of a soccer festival,” he says. “The festival includes a tournament with 135 soccer teams, live entertainment, and an interactive children’s area. Last year the students recruited and trained 175 volunteers and brought in a total of $30,000 in revenue, including $20,000 in corporate partnerships. The students focus on six areas: sponsorship, marketing, registration, volunteer management, finance, and tournament operations.
“Students in the sport event marketing class works with Alliance for Action Sports and Mount Snow, a mountain resort in Vermont, on the Dew Winter Tour event held each January. The students create and execute a marketing plan targeted at college students living within two hours of Mount Snow. They receive a $10,000 marketing budget from Mount Snow. Last year they created and executed 23 separate promotions, developed partnerships with college ski and board clubs and retail shops, and launched an Internet marketing initiative. During the event, the students are housed for one week at Mount Snow and help run all aspects the event.”
Mark is currently conducting research on the effectiveness of his classes. He has partnered with faculty at Brock University in Canada and Southern New Hampshire University, which have similar experiential learning classes. “I conduct research that connects the students’ experiences to their personal development,” explains Mark. “Essentially, how does the complexity of their thinking increase through active engagement in these classes?” His other research involves the relationship between ego development and effective leadership in sport management.
Along with teaching classes and conducting research, Mark advises and mentors students at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels. “I work closely with students,” he says, “and apply the lessons I learned from my mentor at Warren Wilson, Rodney Lytle, whom I worked with on the Heavy Duty crew. The mentorship I received from him was invaluable, and I owe much of my success as an educator to his influence.”
Mark and his wife Sharon, a 1986 graduate of Warren Wilson, have two children, Ben, 19, and Kelsey, 16. They make frequent trips to Malaysia, Sharon’s home country (see photo), and have also traveled to Canada, Portugal, Singapore, Bali, Japan, and Thailand. Mark also enjoys playing tennis and volleyball, skiing, and coaching his kids’ soccer teams.
Mark is glad to mentor students and discuss graduate school and career opportunities. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or by phone at 413-545-5062.