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BusinessWeek asked business undergrads to tell us about their favorite professors. Here is another installment in the series.
Richard Lutz, professor of marketing at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business, has an annual tradition. Once a year, he lifts a textbook he has previously planted with a student, revs up an electric drill, and drills a hole through the book.
It's a vivid demonstration to illustrate the aphorism that people don't buy quarter-inch drills, they buy quarter-inch holes. "They buy a benefit, they don't buy a product," Lutz says.
TECHNO TALENT. His method seems to be effective. "The whole class is going, 'Oh my God, this guy is insane!' You're immediately engaged," says Colby Mynard, a senior at Warrington. Lutz's ability to captivate the class is even more impressive because some of his students are distance learners, who interact with him through live video on the Internet. Lutz has about 100 classroom students and 1,400 distance learners. The electronic platform allows him to reach a larger audience and incorporate videos from various sources such as adcritic.com to keep all his students plugged in and at attention.
His ability to reach students, no matter where they are, is what made him a standout professor to the majority of Warrington undergrads surveyed by BusinessWeek in 2006. "Most online professors will just stand in front of the camera and talk, but [Lutz] really draws on the strength of the technology to engage his students," says Mynard.
Lutz says the commercials he uses in class are picked because they're both new and entertaining. He also brings in a number of outside speakers and real-world examples to make marketing more tangible to his students.
"VERY 'WITH-IT.'" Lutz's personality wins over just about everyone. Students say he's approachable, witty, and has a knack for keeping people interested in marketing and its relevancy.
"You know how you take classes, and you never know how you're going to be able to actually apply what you learn?" asks Jennifer LaBrie, a rising senior. "Professor Lutz made marketing seem like it was important as a career because it was used in everyday life."
Lutz's popularity has won him other accolades as well. He was named the College Undergraduate Teacher of the Year in 2005 for the fourth time. And he's a cool cat to boot. "He's very 'with-it,'" says LaBrie. "He's a huge Gators fan, so he would find commercials pertaining to the Gators."
In fact, last spring Lutz got to watch the Gators win the NCAA basketball championship with his two sons—also students at UF—just 30 rows off the end of the court. "Now there's a dimension on which I can relate to [my students]," he says. Best job perk so far.