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From Beauty School to Business: A Conversation with Dr. Charles Minnick

By University Staff

UAGC November 2021 Faculty of the Month Charlie Minnick

For more than five years, Dr. Charles Minnick served as director of admissions for a chain of cosmetology schools. It was his first role in higher education, with an office located just outside of the classroom. By virtue of proximity, he sat through “perm class” at least 30 times.

“Theoretically, I know how to do a perm,” laughs Dr. Minnick, lead faculty at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). “You don’t want me to use chemicals in your hair, but I can do a perm.”

Although the art of styling hair is not his forte, the business of business is Dr. Minnick’s realm of expertise. His experience at the cosmetology school fueled a passion for teaching that would eventually segue into a 30-year career in higher education. 

“I knew as I did my research, what I love is being able to do administrative work and teach – it gives me the best of both worlds,” he says. 

It’s also made him a role model for fellow educators and students pursuing business careers. Dr. Minnick’s journey to UAGC faculty member began at the cosmetology school and eventually led him to part-time teaching roles and later his alma mater St. Ambrose University, where he earned his MBA in 1999 while teaching in the Master of Organizational Leadership program. Roles as a marketing and management instructor would follow, expanding his business acumen and laying the foundation for a lifetime as a business educator and student. Eventually, he would begin a teaching career at the former Ashford University* campus in Clinton, Iowa in 2006, where he became Dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies (now the Forbes School of Business and Technology®).

“I was in school for about nine solid years when I started the MBA,” he recalls. “I know how hard it is because I’ve been there.”

To call Dr. Minnick the “OG” at UAGC would be an accurate statement. His tenure with the University spans its most important moments. He served as president of the residential campus in Clinton until its closure in 2016, and he helped lead Ashford’s student body through the transition to UAGC in 2020. Throughout his tenure, he’s been able to impact lives in and out of the classroom, involving himself in everything from student clubs to the CHAMPS Peer Mentoring program.

dr. charles minnick UAGC

Left: Dr. Minnick participates in a former Ashford University Iowa campus event called Heels for Her to help raise awareness of sexual assault against women. For the last event of the week, the men on campus would walk in women’s shoes, playing off the idea that one cannot understand another person's experience until they've walked in their shoes. "It's wasn’t easy walking in those shoes," he says, "but it's an experience around which a lot of education, self-reflection, and change happens." Right: Dr. Minnick enjoys a laugh with a former colleague at the KCLN radio station at the former Ashford University residential campus.  

“I’ve been really blessed to work with great people who gave me great opportunities at every stage,” he says. “I believe we get where we are because people believe in us and give us chances.”

Along the way, he solidified his business credentials by co-writing two books: “The Five Functions of Effective Management” and “Stay Engaged… It’s Essential: Chunks of Leadership, Wisdom, and Knowledge to Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness.” Additionally, he provides expertise and thought leadership as a member of the board of directors for the International Accreditation Council for Business Education – the premier accreditation body for business programs that lead to degrees at all levels of higher education.

Like many of the UAGC students he instructs, Dr. Minnick is a lifelong learner holding degrees at every level. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and the aforementioned MBA at St. Ambrose University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Management and Decision Sciences from Walden University in 2006. 

“I was in school for about nine solid years when I started the MBA,” he recalls. “I know how hard it is because I’ve been there.”

An Example for his Students

As President Emeritus and Lead MBA faculty at UAGC, Dr. Minnick recognizes the enormous influence that he can have on the student body – and vice versa – and he refuses to simply take it easy, not even after 15 years as a member of the University’s faculty.

In addition to being a face that students can recognize, Dr. Minnick is committed to service, and throughout his tenure, he’s emphasized the importance of volunteerism, organizing student groups to take action in and outside of their communities.

“One thing I’m most proud of is, we had an Office of Service and Leadership, and we did tons and tons of community service,” he recalls. “We went to New Jersey to help after Hurricane Sandy – four staff members, 21 students, and we spent the week out there.

“We went to Oklahoma, Joplin, Missouri, and we did work at homeless shelters in Chicago. We handed out lunches to people that lived on the street. We went to shelters where families would live because they had no place else to go. Those are amazing, humbling experiences.” 

Dr. Charles Minnick UAGC

Left: Dr. Minnick was an avid volunteer. Here he is shown as Santa's helper during a Big Brothers and Big Sisters annual holiday breakfast for the children. Right: Dr. Minnick was one of several faculty at the former Ashford University Iowa campus to serves as a host family for International students. In this photo, he is celebrating the graduation of two of his host students from Germany (grad on right) and Canada (grad on left).

Whether at work or at home, Dr. Minnick says he wants to do things that make an impact on people and lives by the philosophy “be the change you want to see in the world.” To that end, he’s active in his community and currently sits on the board of Early Childhood Iowa, a statewide initiative housed within the Iowa Department of Management that unites public and private agencies, organizations, and stakeholders under the common vision that “every child, beginning at birth, will be healthy and successful.”

“I’ve been really blessed to work with great people who gave me great opportunities at every stage,” he says. “I believe we get where we are because people believe in us and give us chances.”

Dr. Minnick was previously appointed – by two governors – to the board of Volunteer Iowa, part of a network of state service commissions throughout the United States that exist to foster a bi-partisan state-level commitment to advancing service initiatives, as well as developing, communicating, and promoting a statewide vision and ethic of service. He’s also served on boards for the Red Cross and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

“At this point in my life, those are the opportunities I seek out,” he says. “If I’m going to spend my time doing that kind of stuff, that’s what matters to me.”

When asked if he sees himself as a role model, he answers that his mantra is simply to do the right thing, even when it’s not the easy thing.

“I think it’s really important to give back,” he stresses. “We’re so blessed to have what we have, and our students have really taken that to heart.

Getting to Know Dr Minnick

dr. charles minnick UAGC

We recently chatted with Dr. Minnick about his role at UAGC and his career. Keep reading for more insights into this favorite faculty member.

UAGC: What motivated you to become a teacher?

Dr. Charles Minnick: My younger sister taught elementary school for many years, so it was in the family. I kind of came into it late. I was a retail manager, so I had some experience as far as training and developing people. 

The first class I ever taught was at the cosmetology school, and it was a resume writing class. I thought, ‘This is really cool, I really like teaching.’ To get where you want you have to do something about it, and I think education is the key to making that happen. I made some connections with people that got me into part-time jobs, and I have now taught hundreds of classes over the years.

UAGC: Why did you return to school for your doctoral degree?

Dr. Charles Minnick: I think it’s really about opportunities. The advanced degree opened up opportunities for me to feed my passion and do what I wanted to do. If you want to stay in education at a certain level, that’s part of the deal. 

I always say that your education is something no one can take away from you. Degrees are earned. You’ve probably heard ‘The tassel was worth the hassle’ and I believe that. 

UAGC: In what ways has education changed the most since you began teaching?

Dr. Charles Minnick: Access. I think access to education has become much greater, there are so many ways we can do things. We’ve also become more accepting about non-traditional ways to earn credit. We have to give people credit for what they know and what they’ve done. That’s why I love the Prior Learning Assessment. If you have knowledge let’s give you credit; it helps students graduate quicker, with less debt, so they can achieve their goals in the fastest way possible.

UAGC: What is your teaching philosophy?

Dr. Charles Minnick: The best education is really when teachers and students are engaging, learning, and pursuing knowledge together. I think that when students and faculty work together, students become creators of their education instead of passive recipients of second-hand knowledge. 

We need to work together and help students become creators of their education instead of giving them things that have already been done. We want students, and employers want employees, who are critical thinkers and can provide solutions in the real world.

UAGC: What is the most inspiring thing you’ve seen from your UAGC students?

Dr. Charles Minnick: I think especially now, it’s their tenacity. It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the long run. I’ve been there. I did nine years solid in school; it’s hard but you can do this. I think with adults, life gets in the way and they forget why they started. I always say that I’m here for them, and I tell them to ask themselves, ‘Why did I start this journey? Why does it matter to me?’

UAGC: What are the keys to success at an online university?

Dr. Charles Minnick: I think time management is critical. There are only 168 hours in a week. Part of time management is a really good support system. When somebody graduates, the support system graduates with you. That person is someone who is going to help you and believe in you and keep pushing you.

We have so many resources available to help people, please use all of them. Asking for help is a sign of strength not a sign of weakness. It means you’re smart and you’re strong and you just want help to accomplish your goals.

UAGC: What are some things students might not know about you but would find interesting?

Dr. Charles Minnick: My first job in my life was at McDonald’s in Princeton, Illinois, when they first started introducing breakfast in the late 70s. I can also be very lucky. I’ve won trips, cash, athletic gear, sometimes I’m really lucky when it comes to drawings. I’ve sat on dunk tanks for fundraising events, worn red high heels; and the weirdest thing I ever did was wear a rabbit suit to work all day after winning a contest at the Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center in Clinton. I often end up in situations where I have to dress up for a supportive cause.

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*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.

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