From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Dr. Marcia Simmering Dickerson: Managing human resources in work and life

Feb 17, 2014 | Faculty Feature

marcia_dickersonFrom the time Marcia Simmering was a little girl, she always wanted to be a teacher. Her mother,who never got the chance to go to college, suggested that Marcia take a few business classes while she was at the University of Iowa. Marcia loved those classes, especially Human Resources Management. In her junior year in college, Marcia found a part-time job entering data for a student who was studying for her doctorate in business. She learned so much from her about social science research that Marcia decided a career as a business professor would let her do everything that she enjoyed, combining her interests in teaching and the leadership skills that she had developed in high school and college. Marcia got to learn a lot about the real world of business through her experience in an innovative start-up company. “My experience working in human resources was for a small start-up company that was one of the first to develop web-based training from printed materials,” Marcia said. “It was an exciting time, as we landed huge accounts with prominent multi-national firms and created training that was on the cutting edge. I was the first dedicated human resources employee, and as the company grew, I took on a lot of new challenges, from writing job descriptions to developing a dress code for days of client visits to creating and sending out an employee satisfaction survey. But, as I saw first-hand, there was poor management from the owner crippled the firm, and it was eventually acquired.” Marcia enjoyed her work in the field, but her heart was in the classroom.  She received her Ph.D. in Management from Michigan State University in 1999 and spent the first four years of her teaching career at LSU. She joined Louisiana Tech’s Department of Management and Information Systems in 2003 and became an Associate Professor in 2006.  Marcia said that Tech has been a wonderful experience for her. “Both teaching and research are valued here, and the classes are small enough to get to really know the students. In most of my undergraduate classes, I use a question-and-answer format, which allows us to have a lot of interaction and discussion. My students feel this helps them learn more and apply class content to their current jobs.” Marcia’s favorite class to teach is the Research Methods class in the Doctor of Business Administration program. Her research interests vary, but the projects that motivate her the most are those that involve how to design and interpret social science research. “I’ve had so many great students in my Research Methods class, and I’ve gone on to present international conference presentations and publish in top-tier journal with students who wrote research proposals for this class.” She has written training-related papers exploring motivation to learn, employee development, accountability for training, and web-based training. Her research in compensation addresses fairness of pay distributions. BestDickerson021-6.3x6In the summer of 2012, Marcia became Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Business. This provides her more first-hand experience with human resources tasks, her primary area of interest. “I get to solve problems every day, whether they involve a student’s academic concerns, difficulties in course scheduling, or new programs the departments want to create. Just like I did as an HR manager, I have to balance the needs of the university, the faculty, and the students, to develop solutions that fair to everyone involved. I’m still learning a lot in my position, and I’m never bored.” Marcia also manages to balance her personal life with her work life, and spends most of her free time with her family. She married Steve Dickerson 6 years ago, and they love living in Ruston. Marcia has two grown stepchildren; Drew works at Tech in Tolliver Hall, and Stephanie is in college at LSU. IMG_4984Steve and Marcia have two young daughters, Lydia (4) and Josie (2). “Lydia attends Tech’s Early Childhood Education Center and has already decided that she will be a teacher when she grows up, and Josie knows mommy works at “Wee-see-ana Tech.” I also enjoy cooking and running, and I love to knit and sew clothes for my daughters and me.” Josie and Lydia took time to pose in their dresses that Mom sewed for them. Marcia Josie 5K