Faculty Focus: Marketing Professor Embraces Role as Teacher of Future Leaders

They win awards for their research. They write bestsellers. However, what sets the faculty at St. John’s University apart is their genuine concern for students, their desire to see them succeed in the classroom and life, and their passion for St. John’s mission. In this recurring series, we profile just a few of the many faculty members who make a difference in our University community—and our world.

Headshot of Timothy Keningham
September 28, 2020

Whether in his classroom in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business or teaching remotely from his home, Timothy L. Keiningham, Ph.D., J. Donald Kennedy Endowed Chair in E-Commerce and Professor of Marketing, wants all of his students to leave with a daily message that transcends any individual lesson: they are our future.

“I make a point of always thanking students for giving me an hour and 15 minutes of their lives at the end of every class,” the New York Times-bestselling author said. “I also make a point of calling them ‘future leaders,’ because that is exactly what they are. I let them know that we need leaders like them if we are to make this world a better place.”

Dr. Keiningham, who began teaching at St. John’s in 2016, shares with his students many life lessons he has learned through years of work and research in the field of service marketing and management. He has authored, edited, or coedited nine books—most recently, 2015’s The Wallet Allocation Rule, with Lerzan Aksoy, Luke Williams, and Alexander Buoye.

“Given the tremendous changes going on in the field of marketing because of big data and analytics, I hope that this gives our students a competitive advantage when they begin their careers,” he said.

This semester, Dr. Keiningham is teaching two courses: Analytics for Consumer Insight and Service Marketing. “The two courses could not be more different, but both hold a place dear to my heart,” he explained.

Analytics is based on the training he developed for new analysts when he was an executive at Ipsos, one of the world’s largest market research firms. He worked there for 17 years, eventually assuming the role of Global Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President at Ipsos Loyalty. Dr. Keiningham currently serves (part time) as Chief Strategy and Client Officer at the marketing research firm Rockbridge Associates, Inc.

Service marketing has not only been Dr. Keiningham’s chosen research focus, but it has also been his longtime passion—and a field in which he has earned numerous accolades, including being named by Poets&Quants as one of the “Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors for 2020.”

In 2017, he received the American Marketing Association’s Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award for teaching, research, and service that has had the greatest long-term impact on the development of the services discipline. This is the highest award presented in the field of service marketing.

“Even now, I am still in awe at being selected, and humbled that my colleagues in the service field believe my work to be worthy of such an award,” he said.

Norean R. Sharpe, Ph.D., Dean of the Tobin College, Joseph H. and Maria C. Schwartz Distinguished Chair, and Professor of Decision Sciences, noted his accomplishments. “Dr. Keiningham represents the ideal professor at an institution that values the teacher-scholar model,” she said. “He is a compassionate role model for students and a dedicated, world-renowned scholar in his discipline.”

His dedication to students is very evident in the efforts he has made in transitioning to remote and hybrid learning models. Dr. Keiningham spent the summer building a full video studio in his basement with the encouragement of his wife and the help of his brother, a video producer.

Timothy Keningham filming himself for his class on a virtual call

“I am now able to augment my classes with highly interactive, visually impactful learning experiences,” he said. “Most importantly, it has allowed me to maintain a sense of community that I value in the classroom. This has made the classes more enjoyable for my students, and more uplifting for me.”

The importance of community, and recognizing how it extends past the campus gates, is one reason why Dr. Keiningham integrates academic service-learning into his classes. “In every case, I have been blown away by my students’ resourcefulness and creativity,” he explained. “Even after classes had shifted to remote learning, they pressed on to deliver amazing work.” It also shows students the true potential of helping others. “Several of the organizations my classes have worked with were started by people just like themselves at around the same time in their lives.” 

For example, the Haitian American Caucus, founded by a St. John’s student while he was still attending the University, highlights the importance of leadership that Dr. Keiningham incorporates throughout all of his lessons.

“Our students are not just smart—they are resilient and hard working,” he said. “My goal is to help these future leaders get the skills they need to succeed in their jobs and to help them envision what they are capable of becoming. This is the most rewarding job ever.”