After teaching marketing courses for 37 years at Salt Lake Community College, Professor Curtis Youngman will retire on June 30, 2016.
Youngman earned his associate degree from then-Weber State College before receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Marketing Education from Utah State University. He has served on the National DECA Board of Directors for five years, as the State Collegiate DECA Advisor for 11 years, as a Local Chapter Advisor and Co-Advisor for 40 years, and on the American Vocational Association National Marketing Education Policy Planning Committee for five years.
I met Youngman in his classroom after his afternoon consumerism class April 19 in the Business Building at Taylorsville Redwood Campus. He looked professional in his long-sleeved blue dress shirt, slate-grey slacks with matching tie, and light grey sweater vest. But what was most memorable was his gregarious personality.
We exchanged pleasantries at the opportunity to meet together, then got straight to the business of discussing his tenure at SLCC.
What classes have you taught at SLCC?
“I’ve taught every marketing class that we offer at some time or another. … We’ve upgraded the classes; we’ve made changes with the classes. But during the 37 years, I have taught every marketing class that we’ve offered.”
What do you think has been the most enjoyable aspect of teaching at SLCC?
“The students. Yep – you know, watching them participate in the classroom, watching them get involved with either co-curricular or extra-curricular activities such as DECA and seeing them progress and develop. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”
What has been your impression of the students here?
“I have a great love for the students here. I really believe that some of the best students in the state attend our institution and I’ve had the privilege to associate with some of the best students around. They’re eager to learn and eager to apply what they learn. Most of them take their careers very seriously and see these classes and these programs as a means of getting where they want to be.”
What changes have you seen take place at SLCC during your time here?
“The caliber of students. I think that we have a different student here today than we did 37 years ago. [Also,] the direction that the administration has helped move us in has been – in many cases – a positive move for us.”
Can you give examples of what they’ve tried to accomplish that you’ve seen be successful?
“They have tried to move us to be more involved with businesses and to get businesses more involved with us. I am convinced that without the business community we could not be as successful as we are. We need their support. We need them in the class guest speaking, interviewing, and exchanging ideas with the students. Our students will one day be their bosses, and that relationship needs to be developed.”
What do you hope you most influenced students to accomplish?
“To find their career and then love it.”
What kinds of things did you do as you tried to help make that happen?
“I tried to stay close with the students; tried to interact with them. One of the great opportunities that DECA provides is … for faculty and students to be together and to talk and interact. It’s not just in the classroom – and then it’s all over. I’m very pro-DECA; very pro-student.”
So, why retire now?
“I just feel like now’s my time to step out to let some others step in. Let them go from where I’ve left Salt Lake Community College and use their skills and their thoughts to strengthen this School of Business. I’m not unhappy with where I’m at this semester. I just felt like it was time.”
What are you looking forward to doing after you retire?
“Spend time with my grandchildren. I have 16 grandchildren and I’ve tried to be a good grandpa – but they’re going to know that their grandpa loves them. I’m gonna be to all of their sports and school activities and just be with them and watch them grow.”
What memories of SLCC do you think will stay with you the longest?
“They would relate to our DECA competitive event conferences: when students are called up to the stage to receive their award. It’s just really hard [he pauses to swallow] to duplicate those feelings as you watch that student walk up to the stage and get their recognition.”
What words would you use to describe those feelings?
“Self-fulfillment. As we prepared for the conferences, we would go over the event and talk about it and strategize with it. The time that was put [in] to do that helped bring me closer to those students. And then to see them receive the recognition that they certainly deserved – it makes you feel like all that work’s worthwhile. I refer to that as “psychic income”: it doesn’t put any bread and butter on the table for my wife and family, but it’s a lot of stuff right there [he pats his chest] in that old heart.”
If you could get one message out to your students, what would you most want them to know?
“As you develop goals and direction in your life, you can accomplish that that [sic] you want. You have the ability and the power to accomplish those career goals and those personal goals.”
At the conclusion of our interview, Youngman provided me with a copy of The School of Business’s April 2016 newsletter that announced his retirement. But what he was most eager to share was a story on someone else in that issue – one of his former students, Tulia Ibanez. He opened it up and pointed out where Ibanez had been chosen as Spring 2016’s Outstanding Student in Culinary Arts.
That’s Youngman for you: the humble instructor, celebrating his student’s success to the end.