Excellence in Faculty Service
Service that makes a difference
To some of his students, he is known simply as "coach."
And while you won't see Richard David Ramsey walking around with a whistle and clipboard, his work as mentor and advisor to students demonstrates every bit the aura of a field general.
For his years of service - as academic counselor to numerous students, advisor for an award-winning student program, director of the College of Business Internet Resource Center, and years of editorial work for scholarly journals - Ramsey was recognized with the 2006 President's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.
Ramsey said his attitude toward service to others was greatly influenced after reading Robert Greenleaf's book Servant Leadership.
"It changed my outlook and drew me to a theoretical platform based on Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew that anyone who would be a leader should be a servant." It's a philosophy that Ramsey, a part-time minister in Churches of Christ, tries to apply to his everyday life.
He is perhaps best known as the faculty advisor for the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) program, a global organization in which teams develop community outreach programs, such as literacy and tutoring campaigns, then make competitive presentations. The teams have won over 30 regional and national awards since he started coaching the organization in 1987.
The successful teams have brought tremendous visibility for the university, especially among business people who judge the competitions. Because of his leadership, Ramsey has been named a SIFE Samuel Moore Walton Fellow every year since 1988.
"The object is not necessarily winning, although our students do well," he said; "it's getting them into competitions where they face judges drawn from executive ranks of corporations. The students are standing there on their own feet and gaining this useful experience from facing stiff competition."
Ramsey said the awards are nice but, "The real rewards to me are the jobs our students get by being in the competition or at least gaining enough experience that they feel poised and confident in some other job. I am convinced -- as the judges in corporate America have been -- that with effective coaching, Southeastern's students can compete with anyone."
"Through SIFE, David has served well the university and its students," said accounting faculty member Harold Edward Davis, who nominated Ramsey for the President's Award. "The numerous projects which Southeastern SIFE has done over the years often involved service learning, many years before the phrase 'service learning’ became prevalent.'"
Users of the College of Business Internet Resource Center testify to Ramsey's long hours - including work on nights and weekends - to keep the college's computer labs running efficiently.
He also has served on more than 14 university committees and contributed more than 15 years to the Faculty Senate, serving as an officer and chair of numerous committees. "Dr. Ramsey sets the standard of unselfish service to this university," said English professor Joan Faust, former recording secretary for the Senate. "The Senate Executive Committee always felt confident that any issue sent to committees chaired by Dr. Ramsey would be investigated meticulously."
A graduate of Hammond High School and Southeastern, he received the university's first Phi Kappa Phi scholarship. Ramsey's academic background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and linguistics and a doctorate in communication and rhetoric, which he applies to teaching business communication. That background helps in his role as editorial board member or reviewer for five refereed journals, including 15 years as book review editor for the International Journal of Commerce and Management. In addition, he serves on the Technology Conference Committee of the Louisiana Society of Certified Public Accountants.
A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a Vietnam veteran, Ramsey balances military service with academics. "Southeastern has always been very accommodating of my reserve duty," he remarked.
In the area of community service, Ramsey has served on the Tangipahoa Parish Board of Election Supervisors since 1983, being one of the region’s longest-serving officeholders.
But it's the students who give him a real charge in his day-to-day life. "I love the students here," he said. "They are at a formative stage in their lives, and they have needs." And the faculty, he says, help meet those needs.
"I’m particularly moved when I hear from students who say that my service to them made a difference in their lives." That, he says, is the ultimate reward.