Leonora Fuxman, Ph.D.
Embracing Change, Management Professor Challenges, Engages Students
For 19 years, challenging students has been a priority for Leonora Fuxman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business (TCB). "I think teaching has to be challenging in order to generate a stream of thought from students," she said recently. "It makes them consider what's important."
Though her courses are demanding, Dr. Fuxman said, the close-knit atmosphere of the Staten Island campus also helps her to engage and support each student. In fact, she often has the same students in two or three different sections. "It's great to see their progression and growth,” she said. “I know them all by their first names, and they know I'm here for them. Of course, they have to put in the effort, but I’m with them every step of the way."
Dr. Fuxman teaches several courses in TCB, including Operations Management, which is her specialty. She explained that operations management is a function of every single company, but few know what it entails—overseeing, designing and controlling the process of production. "It’s all about how goods and services are made and delivered," she stressed.
A 100-Percent Commitment to Students
One challenge Dr. Fuxman presents to her students stems from the University's commitment to Academic Service-Learning. She and her colleagues in TCB have created a program that allows students to create business plans and organizational strategies for local non-profits. "My job is to filter through the ideas,” she explained. “We brainstorm in class and students develop ideas. I give them my feedback and they explore it further."
Dr. Fuxman enlists her introductory Organizational Behavior students in the program. "They handle the day-to-day operations—developing strategies for growth, fundraising, scheduling events and using social media.” Afterwards, seniors continue with the project and focus on long-term strategies. She added that the companies have implemented a number of the students' recommendations.
"You can't just create a challenge for students and let them drown,” she noted. “You have to be 100 percent committed to them. I'd rather present them with something, make them think but help them along the way. It prepares them for their later careers."
After earning her bachelor’s degree at Kiev State University, Ukraine, in 1987, Dr. Fuxman immigrated to the United States with her family. Though she always had a good head for math, she wanted to find a “more practical” application for her talents. She went on to earn her M.S. in Decision Sciences in 1991 and her Ph.D. in Operations Management in 1994, both from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Fuxman has been at St. John's since 1994, and has taught on the Staten Island campus for the last nine years. In 1998, while still at the Queens campus, she received the Teacher of the Year Award from Student Government, Inc.
Where Teaching and Research Converge
Throughout her career at St. John's, Dr. Fuxman has embraced change, whether it involves bringing new technologies to the classroom or moving between campuses. "Being an immigrant and starting life in a new country has made me easily adaptable,” she said. “I love new situations."
Her research also engages constant change. She currently is examining the impact of proliferating digital technologies—including music downloads, electronic reading devices and streaming movies—on consumer behavior. She also is interested in technology’s effects on businesses that provide products and services. A number of Dr. Fuxman’s projects focus on knowledge-based services in developing countries, particularly Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.
For Dr. Fuxman, St. John’s is the ideal place to pursue teaching and research. "The most valuable aspect of being here is how humane everyone is,” she said. “You're valued as a human being. The administration is very supportive, and I work hard to contribute something valuable. I'm privileged to do what I love in this kind of environment."