“I have to stay in tune with what’s going on outside the academic world. Consequently, the students understand the constraints of real world companies—they can’t just apply what they read in a book.”
In 2010, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games—the world championships for eight equestrian sports—were held in the United States for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park, just 10 miles from Transylvania’s campus. Thousands of visitors from the United States and all over the world came to central Kentucky to cheer on competitors, ogle beautiful horses, or just learn more about an equestrian sport that doesn’t involve Thoroughbreds racing hell-bent for leather around a circular track.
Julia Poynter was Transylvania’s liaison for this event. That makes perfect sense—she teaches Event Management and Marketing and was an independent contractor with the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation from 2007-10.
Poynter also recognized this was an incredible opportunity for her Transylvania students to get some real-world marketing experience. Under her direction, the students designed the Transylvania promotional booth and determined what they would distribute to the international visitors at the Games. They worked with the Transylvania bookstore to decide what event-related merchandise they wanted to sell. And, finally, they formally presented their marketing plan to the Transylvania president and senior administrators.
Poynter believes this type of practical application makes Transylvania’s business administration program different from those that focus almost exclusively on business theory and case studies. Transylvania’s students have worked on projects with the Bluegrass Hospitality Group, the Lexington Visitors and Convention Bureau, and other organizations in the area. They practice writing marketing plans—and presenting them.
As an active business consultant and business owner, Poynter makes sure she keeps her finger on the pulse of current business trends and practices so she can share relevant, up-to-date information with her students. That means she can tell her students, “This is what’s going on in the industry right now.”
But her true love is teaching. “I love to see the light bulb go off over a student’s head and hear, ‘Dr. P., I get it!”’ She values the intense one-on-one relationships she has with her students, and she can quickly enumerate where her graduates are now working. “You have to have your door open,” she explains.
For those students who don’t want to major in business administration, Poynter has some advice. “Why not minor in business administration—so you can understand the economics of your industry, read a budget, navigate personal finance, etc. It can make you a better member of society, as well as a better employee.”