Q&A with COB’s New Chair, Dr. Tracy Suter

Dr. Tracy Suter has recently returned to his home state of Arkansas to lead the College of Business Marketing and Management Department. Here he helps us get to know him better by answering our questions about his credentials, career, and personal life.


Education/Degrees Held:

  • Russellville High School, Russellville, AR
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Academic Experience:
Dr. Suter has taught and led at 5 institutions over the past 25 years; has authored many academic articles and textbooks and served in other administrative capacities; most extensive experience was as a 15-year faculty member at Oklahoma State University.

Industry Experience:
“I spent five years at a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) called Midwest Corporate Aviation, Inc. Our services were most-heavily focused in three areas: (a) charter aircraft, (b) air ambulance, and (c ) general aviation aircraft maintenance services. My role was as a Marketing and Analyst Specialist included establishing strong customer relationships in (1) marketing, scheduling, and deploying charter flights from small turboprop airplanes to midsize corporate jets primarily for business travel and (2) working with emergency health care service providers to facilitate air lifting of patients (by airplane or helicopter) in need of critical, urgent care. This included situations like life-threatening car or work accidents to transporting organs from donors to patients for transplant. In both instances it was not uncommon to be awakened in the middle of the night for a perceived or real emergency.”

Certifications: Certified Facilitator, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®; Certified Coach, USA Volleyball

Professional Activities: Member of the Society for Marketing Advances (SMA) and will soon rejoin United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE)

Examples of Publications & Collaborations (a few):

  • Basic Marketing Research | 9th Edition | Brown, Suter, Churchill | Learn more
  • Innovation and Effectiveness of Co-Founded Ventures: A Process Model | Journal of Business and Psychology | Learn more
  • Social versus psychological brand community: The role of psychological sense of brand community | Journal of Business Research | Learn more
  • Maximizing earnings and price fairness perceptions in online consumer-to-consumer auctions | Journal of Retailing | Learn more


Why did you choose business, and more specifically the field of marketing and management?
“I have always gravitated towards the people and creative problem-solving sides of business. Marketing, management, logistics/supply chain, and entrepreneurship each involve addressing real issues for real people in a mutually beneficial way.”

Why did you choose to teach?
“Studies suggest that people fear public speaking more than death (and more than spiders). I have never had that fear. I have always felt very comfortable in front of a group. Case in point, when working in general aviation, I was asked to develop and lead a training program for all our employees on a variety of new and very different Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. The process of learning, organizing, preparing, delivering, fielding questions, etc. was incredible. It was at that point that I started giving serious consideration to a career in academics.”

How do you select your research topics?
“Research questions and subsequent studies usually resonate with me because of something I see in the marketplace. I am an observational researcher when it comes to new research ideas and projects. That is particularly true when it comes to new technologies. While I may not always be a first-mover when it comes to using them, I want to be early in attempting to understand them, their potential, and their applicability. Thus, a theme throughout my research has been adoption and use of new innovations. Another theme has been communities of users and how they help and inform each other. For instance, an online software support forum is one of the most interesting places to combine these interests. Users ask other users about problems and opportunities with their tech devices and systems and those in the know chime in with what might help.”

Who/what has influenced your career most?
“The first major influence on my academic career was the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of Arkansas. Not only did I work for him as a Graduate Assistant, but he granted me full license to ask him about anything, anywhere at any time, professionally or personally. He would answer the most mundane questions to the most deeply philosophical ones and everything in between. Even now, I could reach out to him and get wise counsel regardless of my circumstance or situation.

My next major academic influence was a department chair early in my career. If he called me today and said, ‘Now, Tracy, I need …,’ I would say ‘yes’ before he completed the thought. My level of respect and admiration for him is boundless and I feel fortunate and grateful to count him among my friends.

Next, a colleague who is now in an administrative role, yet was not at the time, was my next major academic influence. One of my Top 5 CliftonStrengths is Belief. Gallup operationally defines Belief as follows: ‘People exceptionally talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their lives.’ My colleague and I share these unchanging core values. Moreover, he is an exceptionally accomplished academic while adhering to these unchanging core values. His example is a powerful example.

Finally, and this is going to sound cliche, but the hundreds of thousands of students I have had the privilege of working with directly or indirectly. As a first-generation college student, I do not take my opportunity or responsibility lightly to nurture and grow the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers. It feels like yesterday that I sat in their seat. Thankfully many professors invested in me. I get a chance to pay it forward every day and that is greatly influential.”

Name the biggest lesson you have learned in your career.
“Trust is critically important, and earned. Do not trust me because I’m older, have a doctoral degree, 2.5 decades of experience, or am in an administrative role. Give me an opportunity to earn your trust then trust me if/when I’ve earned it. Distrust is also critically important and equally earned. Once trust is lost, it is incredibly difficult to retrieve.”

What advice do you have for your present and future UCA students?
“At the start of the semester I asked students to enter our class and semester with an open mind and a willingness to try. In a class focused on creative problem-solving and innovation, experimentation and hands-on learning are critical. This is not a ‘sit back and listen to me talk’ class. This is a ‘lean forward, hear and be heard class.’ So far, they have taken up the challenge like champions.”


Hometown: Russellville, AR

Tell us about your family:
“My stunningly beautiful bride (SBB) and I have been married for 30 glorious years, we have two daughters and two sons-in-law (as of 2021). My bride and I are both Russellville High School alumni and have long called Arkansas home.”

Do you have any pets (and if so, what kind)?
“We have a Shih Tzu, which allegedly was bred for royalty. Our Shih Tzu believes he was born as royalty.”

Favorite Book or Book Genre:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is one of my favorite books. I revisit it often. I generally prefer nonfiction to fiction though I read both.

Favorite Movie or Movie Genre:
“I am not a big movie person. I have a hard time sitting still for 1.5-2 hours. In terms of genre, I like documentaries and docu-series, which is consistent with my preference for nonfiction books. I could watch ‘Forrest Gump’ any time it is on, and it’s on a lot. I have seen every Pixar Animation Studios film except one. (Yes, adults watch animated films.) In brief, I like excellent storytelling.”

Favorite Vacation Location: “Switzerland. The Swiss Alps are majestic.”

Who is your hero, fictional or not? Why?
“Anyone who gives more than they take has a hero quality to me. I gravitate towards kind, smart, compassionate, humble, selfless people.”

What do you do for fun? “Most any time spent with my SBB is fun.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“This is not really advice but was a small, self-discovery, a-ha, eureka moment when I realized that not all targets are created equal.

In archery a bull’s eye is maximum points (10). The same is not true in darts. There are four better alternatives on a dartboard than the bull’s eye (see diagram). Thus, taking things out of context is often unwise.

Next, as in most situations, there is more than one way to win (or succeed or …) if one fully understands the issue at hand AND its context. Instead of focusing on a singular alternative or potential outcome, consider all positive possibilities and pick the best among them. In darts, and in other areas of life, the bull’s eye, while appealing and ‘obvious’, might be suboptimal.”