Visiting Professor Teaches in Tandem With Penn College Colleague

Published 06.03.2004

Faculty & Staff

Pennsylvania College of Technology students regularly have access to the latest and most relevant tools in their varied courses, and a recent business class studying the European Union was no exception.

Enrollees in Steven J. Moff's "Management 299" course had the benefit of a week's primer from Dr. Notger Carl, a banking/finance specialist who teaches at the Fachhochschule Wuerzburg (Wuerzburg University of Applied Sciences) in Germany. His visit was part of a rare faculty exchange; Moff, an assistant professor of business administration/marketing at Penn College, previously lectured at Wuerzburg and has accompanied students on trips to Germany.

Dr. Carl, whose credentials include a master's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana, was struck by the open-mindedness of his students "some kind of American attitude," he conjectured as well as their devoted attendance to his class.

"At home, we don't have that," the native Bavarian noted. "We can't force the students to be there. If they're interested, they come."

Dr. Carl stayed in the Rose Street Apartments on campus and came away with a true appreciation of Penn College's spacious and well-appointed grounds: "This is a beautiful new campus. We have a very old (one) in the center of a very old town."

Class sizes, typically small across Penn College's campuses, are another exception in Germany. A more specialized offering might involve fewer students, he said, but a general course such as "Business Policy" carries a class size of about 100 students. Even when he was at Urbana, classes were quite large.

"Here, you can talk to everybody."

And talk they did.

While the curriculum specifically was tailored to Dr. Carl's collaboration with Moff, the day's business headlines readily offered fuel for student discussion.

American motorists aghast at $2-a-gallon gasoline were reminded by their visitor that the price "back home" typically runs 2.5 times that of the United States. The cost is not met there with as much consumer complaint, however, since European culture isn't as centered around the automobile.

"We don't drive SUVs," the visiting professor explained, and Europeans are more likely to ride buses and trains than their U.S. counterparts.

His students also seemed interested in the speed limit or, on two-thirds of roads, the lack thereof.

"We have highways on which it's easy to travel 120, 130, 140," he said, all with little public outcry or abnormal accident rates. "Traffic just goes easier if some guys are faster than others."

Students, such as Billie J. Conrad, were appreciative of the new perspective.

"I thought he did a great job of providing us with the history of Europe," said the resident of Millerstown RR 2, who is enrolled in the Business Administration-Management major. "He also updated us by comparing and contrasting the EU expansion with the U.S. NAFTA program and presented interesting world statistics."

Dr. Carl got an education of his own when attending one of Moff's son's Little League games his first baseball game.

"I think he was quite confused with respect to people running all over the place to the different bases," Moff said. "But he found it interesting how it also was a social activity, wherein the families would watch the games and socialize with one another."

Despite the intercontinental differences, there are clear similarities between Dr. Carl's experience and Penn College's educational mission. Instructors in Germany are required to serve five years in a corporate-leadership role prior to entering the classroom, a system that is reflected in Penn College's long-standing partnership with and responsiveness to corporate advisers. It mirrors, too, the expertise of Penn College instructors who joined the faculty after successful careers in the trades and private enterprise.

And, Dr. Carl's homeland and the other members of the European Union are under a plan to convert to a uniform system of higher education by 2006 that is familiar to Americans a standardized form of bachelor's, master's and doctorate education that is mutually recognizable among the EU's two-dozen member nations.

Dr. Carl is the author of several well-regarded books and papers in his field, and serves as a consultant to a number of German companies. Still, his memories of Penn College invoked a word not generally associated with such big players in the global-finance game.

"It was a fun class, at least for me," he said. "Normally, I'm a calculations guy, but this was something different. This was fun."