Michael Vander Kooi

Associate Professor,  College of Business

Contact Information
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I have been rewarded with high-performing students who have gone on to become high-performing business professionals who regularly seek me out to thank me for the impact I had on their business knowledge and success.“

Bio

Prior to receiving a Masters of Science in Accounting at Colorado State University in the Summer of 2001, Associate Professor Mike Vander Kooi received his MBA in Finance from Grand Valley State University and his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Calvin College, both in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

While fulfilling the requirements for his MBA, Professor Vander Kooi began his professional business career as the producer for Opera Grand Rapids, a well-respected regional professional opera company.

After finishing the MBA, Vander Kooi changed careers to banking and locales to Loveland, Colorado. After several formative years as a bank manager, he moved into the financial markets as a lender and a stockbroker. It was during these years in finance that he became a part-time college instructor and developed an affinity for teaching.

Vander Kooi then transitioned to teaching full time at JWU. He has relished the opportunity to help prepare young professionals for the rigors of the business world. He was honored to be named JWU Denver Teacher of the Year in 2003, 2009 and again in 2010.

As a side benefit to teaching, Vander Kooi enjoys having time to spend with his wife and kids and to revisit his love for outdoor activities like golf, tennis, running and skiing.

Personal Statement

I believe that to be an effective teacher, you must have experienced, firsthand, what you are trying to impart to your students. I also think that you must passionately believe that the info you are providing is critical to your students’ future success and aspirations. If students get the feeling that you are lecturing on a topic just because the syllabus and text say you ought to, they will have an exptremely hard time getting motivated to learn.

I also feel strongly that a key attribute of effective teachers is to set a high level of expectations. “A” means excellent — and instilling in our students a belief that the business world will award them with an “A” (be that bonuses, promotions, what have you) just for showing up or for being smart is doing an extreme disservice.

Excellence is achieved through diligence and hard work, not through having a pulse or by having a high IQ. So having meaningful, measurable learning objectives and holding students accountable for attaining them sows the seeds to effective teaching. If the students don’t care and have no reason to care, it is very difficult to effectively train them.

Some people worry that having and enforcing high standards will result in a high number of low grades given to those who aren’t willing to perform to those standards and will result in low student evals and complaints of ineffectiveness. To the contrary, my high standards have been rewarded with very strong student evaluations over the years and in being named Teacher of the Year 3 times (2003, 2009 + 2010).

But even more importantly, I have been rewarded with high-performing students who have gone on to become high-performing business professionals who regularly seek me out to thank me for the impact I had on their business knowledge and success. None of them has ever told me that the business world has expected less of them than I did.