Quest Magazine Dr. Ed Bashaw
"I came from a working class background."
Ed Bashaw came from a working-class background. With a father who served in World War II and went straight to work for an oil company upon returning, and a school teacher mother, Bashaw said the decision to go to college was fully supported.
“Dad believed in higher education but didn’t have the opportunity to go. Because of my mother who had attended Baylor, he understood what he missed out on, so he was the insistent one,” said Bashaw. “Because my mom went to Baylor, I just assumed that’s where I was supposed to go. I take that as my really good fortune; if I could pick my parents over again, I wouldn’t change.”
Bashaw entered Baylor University with a clear career goal in mind — teaching and coaching — thanks to the work-life balance he saw it provide in addition to the opportunity to help others.
He navigated his college career in the best way possible to prepare him for such a career, pursuing a degree in education with an emphasis on physical education and health while looking for opportunities outside the classroom to get a leg up as well.
“Because I wanted to be a coach, but was not good enough to make a college football team, I was an equipment manager, eventually earning a full scholarship,” he said.
Bashaw learned about graduate assistantships being readily available for those who had a degree in physical education and who could teach activity P.E. classes. He was hired as a graduate teaching assistant, teaching softball, fitness and bowling classes. Bashaw completed a master’s degree in education, this time with an emphasis on physical education and educational administration.
Through his position as a football manager, Bashaw made a few connections, including one with the company that made the team’s uniforms, Fab Knit Manufacturing. The company, impressed with what they had seen of Bashaw, approached him about a sales opening they had upon his graduation.
“Thinking I would go back into coaching and teaching after a year or two diversion, I took the job,” said Bashaw.
The job served as a stepping stone as he progressed to other positions, finding that a career in sales may be a good fit for him after all.
“I actually enjoyed sales, but didn’t like the travel. I left the job at Fab Knit after a year and a half and went to work for General Mills,” Bashaw explained. “I was with them for five and a half years. That job moved me from sales to sales management and from Dallas, to El Paso, Texas, back to Dallas, and then to Portland, Oregon.
“With seven years of experience under my belt, I decided that getting an MBA would give me more opportunities in business. That was not my plan after completing my first two degrees, nor was it my plan when I took the job with Fab Knit. My thought at the time was that my professional experience combined with an MBA would give me a stronger foundation.”
Thanks to seven years of professional experience, Bashaw’s MBA studies offered concepts that could be applied with new perspectives. He also found that after some time in the workforce, he had become a much better student.
“Individual marketing faculty members approached me and suggested I consider getting a Ph.D. in marketing. I never saw myself as a professor, but I couldn’t think of a better job than teaching marketing at a university,” he said. “With that encouragement and the support from my wife, I applied and was accepted into a doctoral program. I did, in fact, earn my Ph.D. in marketing — much to the surprise of 20-year-old Ed Bashaw!
“I approached my graduate studies as I had my job. I normally worked/studied on campus for around 40 hours each week. I was married and had a young son, and later a young daughter, so a good work-life balance was particularly important. I had dinner with my family every night. I worked, read and studied more after the children went to bed. Those were good days, now that I look back on them!”
Bashaw was set on completing the doctoral degree requirements in a reasonable amount of time. In three years, Bashaw completed the coursework, passed the comprehensive exams, chose a dissertation team, defended the proposal and collected and analyzed all necessary data. During the last year of this, he accepted his first faculty position as an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and wrote and defended his dissertation in the spring.
“Finishing both degrees opened up a whole new world for me. I was a faculty member and progressed from assistant to associate to full professor of marketing. I was able to work with talented and interesting people and organizations because of my affiliation with the university. These experiences led me to want to make a contribution at the leadership level. My degree allowed me to gain the right experience so that I was able to serve four different universities in a leadership capacity,” explained Bashaw.
Since his time as faculty, Bashaw has held dean positions at Texas A&M-Texarkana, Arkansas Tech University and now holds the role of dean of the School of Business at Emporia State University.
“My career has been able to grow because of the investment I put into my degree. I’d like to think I make a difference in people's’ lives, and my graduate degrees have enabled me to qualify for those positions I’ve had and been able to catapult me in what I grew to I understand about higher education,” he said. “I think for everybody, when their qualifications align with their career intentions, then you have tons of life satisfaction, because you’re operating in the area you want to and the degree allows you to operate within your strengths.”