Dr. Yuhan “Jane” Hua
Tabor School of Business
Dr. Yuhan "Jane" Hua, assistant professor for the Tabor School of Business, completed her doctorate from the University of Louisville. Before enrolling in U of L's entrepreneurship doctoral program, she completed a master's degree in marketing and MBA from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She joined the Millikin faculty in 2018.
TT: What qualities have been important for you to thrive as a professor?
JH: I believe a perceptive mind and a curious heart are always important for me to thrive as a professor. I value every student in my class. Based on various backgrounds and experiences, each student comes with his/her unique story. I am always interested in knowing my students, not just their quiz results or project progress, but personally. Students can feel my enthusiasm and sincerity. This makes our communication mutual. It’s not just me lecturing the whole class; students also share with me new things in their life. They show me the games they play and the artwork they create. This makes them more engaging in class and more likely to discuss their concerns with me.
TT: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and come to work at Tabor?
JH: I am very excited to see the growth of my students. Also, I enjoy sharing new ideas and thoughts with them. Just thinking about meeting with my students and chatting with them makes me happy. I was an international student in the U.S. for 10 years, and this job makes me feel at home for the first time. I feel a strong sense of belonging and needed in the classroom. Students know me in person, and they care about me just like I care about them. Teaching is very rewarding for me and makes my life more meaningful.
TT: We’re sitting here with you a year from when you first started working at Tabor. Walk me your year. What did we achieve together at Tabor?
JH: It was a very productive first year. I found myself blending into Tabor smoothly. I enjoy the family atmosphere in Tabor a lot. Both Dean Najiba Benabess and Director [of the Center for Entrepreneurship] Julie Shields are very supportive. I also learned a lot about teaching a highly diverse cohort. Two of my entrepreneurship classes include not only business majors, but also a lot of art and theatre students. This semester, I am also teaching a class with students that come from eight countries. It poses many challenges, but also offers great learning opportunities. I need to tailor my teaching to the diverse backgrounds of the students. I find it is very important to offer more space for students to discuss and share their thoughts in such a diverse class. After students get familiar with each other, they become more open-minded, and they start learning not only from me but also from their peers.
TT: How do you define good teaching? What is your teaching philosophy?
JH: I think good teaching can inspire and motivate students to learn by themselves. It can make students enjoy learning and develop that habit. The ultimate goal of teaching is to cultivate students who are lifetime learners. Good learning also means the instructor customizes/tailors the teaching plan based on students’ backgrounds, encouraging them to think outside of the box and pushing them outside their comfort zone. Eventually, students will start exploring the real world outside the campus.
TT: Why did you choose this profession, and what brought you to Tabor?
JH: My father is a professor. After I came to the U.S., I also got a lot of help from my professors. My professors at WPI [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] applied for a special scholarship that allowed me to get an MBA [Master of Business Administraton] degree. I was the first and only student in that cohort who got that support. When I graduated from the MBA program, another professor offered me a research assistant position so I could support myself in the summer. It was very important to me since, as a foreign student, I was not able to work outside of campus. I also received a fellowship when I was in my Ph.D. program. I made up my mind then that I was going to be a professor and do everything I could to help my students. Tabor became an ideal school for me since every faculty member here cares about the students. I really appreciate that. Almost all the conversations I have with Dean Benabess are about students. Her office door is always open for faculty and students. I really enjoy working with peers who share the same goals and beliefs.
TT: What changes would you like to bring to the teaching of business and entrepreneurship?
JH: I’d like to establish an infrastructure to integrate new cases, inventions, technologies, strategies and market tactics in our classes. Professors may feel comfortable with whatever they already have established for a class, after teaching it for years. I feel that sluggishness myself, too. I wonder how I can motivate myself to spend the time and energy to explore new things happening around the world and integrate them into my teaching. Entrepreneurship is a major that requires a lot of updating. New entrepreneurs and influential startups are created every day. To catch up with the latest trends, I follow the news and innovation platforms. I also plan to actively participate in academic conferences, so I won’t miss the latest trends in the field. Tabor has been very supportive of faculty development. I feel very lucky to be part of this organization.
TT: What advice would you give to international students coming to Millikin and Tabor?
JH: International students have a lot of barriers to blending into a U.S. university. In addition to language and cultural differences, they also need to adapt to U.S. laws and regulations. For instance, they can’t work outside of campus due to the visa limitation. I hope that international students understand those rules and explore the world as much as they can within those limitations. They should seek help from professors and organizations on campus, and take advantage of opportunities to have an authentic experience. Also, I hope they understand that living in a foreign country is very expensive. When I first arrived in the U.S., I noticed that many of my friends tried everything they could to save money. However, some of the living expenses, such as health and auto insurance, are very necessary. I hope that international students understand the necessity of those expenditures. However, I hope they also understand that there are many events they can participate in for free. I highly encourage students to actively explore and engage in those opportunities. I hope they won’t let financial constraints limit their experiences here in the U.S. They should understand that, though they can always make more [money] when they go back to their country or later in their life, they may have limited opportunities to enjoy and experience another country.