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Q&A: Lessons with Urich

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Andrew Urich

While attending classes, Andrew Urich, Oklahoma State management professor, was inspired to teach.

 Andrew Urich has been a professor at Oklahoma State for 36 years and in this time has racked up a reputation for talking about life.

Urich is a management professor and his key points he works to convey to his students are how to win at “the game of life” and how to keep their “garage doors” open, which means maintaining an open mind at all times. 

Q: What made you want to teach?

A: “I remember the day I was sitting in class, I was a junior in college, and I thought ‘That's a cool job.' I also believe that I can see things that are right before us that a lot of us do not notice and I think it’s fun to show people, so I thought I could help people by showing them these things that are right before us. A lot of them are people-skill things that people know are true, but never doing anything about it, so I thought I would get meaning out of helping people see things, and I do.”

Q: What is the biggest lesson your class teaches your students?

A: “I think it’s trying to be intellectually brave, which means don’t be afraid of failing or making yourself uncomfortable, so it’s understanding how the game of life is played and inspiring you to go be a little bit more brave. On the very last day of class we talk about being brave because I think it is the most important life skill. I think young people worry too much about failing and about making themselves uncomfortable; they don’t like experiences that give you a stomach ache, give you butterflies, upset your stomach, those kinds of things, which you have to go through to accomplish anything.”

Q: What is something your students have taught you?

A: “I’ve learned a lot about hundreds of things from my students, but I would say that the biggest thing they have taught me, which is kind of embarrassing that it took me so long to figure it out, is the thing we have been talking about in class about the garage door because I just figured that out this summer. I learned why I was agitating my students and the reason is I didn’t coach them enough to make their minds open, so what they were hearing from me was criticism.” 

Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching at Oklahoma State?

A: “When I run into my old students, the greatest thing is that I may have had a positive impact on them, which I think is what every teacher hopes for. The thing that I noticed, having been here so long in my 36th year, is the things they remember and the things they felt helped them the most are those things that pushed their garage door down. They tell me “you made me think.” People think I am trying to brainwash them, but I'm just trying to make them think. So the best part is when I run into a former student who tells me I had some part in helping them think about things so they can figure out either what is best for them, or society or whatever the case may be. The thing about Oklahoma State is that Oklahoma is far from the coasts and very traditional. I feel like this is a great place to go when you’re trying to get more people to open their garage doors because the culture tends not to want to talk or think about the issues at hand.”

Q: Final words to people that won’t get to take your class?

A: “Once you’re out of college, you will remember what you learned and how you became a better person and grades won’t matter, so my advice to everyone is take the classes and have the experiences that will serve you well in your life, not to take classes to get a job or to get an A. Those are silly reasons to take classes. You’re learning to become a more successful person and a better person in college and too often it gets lost in majors and grades.”

news.ed@ocolly.com