John Eaton: Fostering passion in students

Faculty Sketch

“I’m Mr. U.S. Geography,” says Clinical Professor of Marketing John Eaton. “I have this weird hobby of visiting all the cities in the U.S. that have 100,000+.” 

Of the 311 cities that Wikipedia lists with a population of more than 100,000, John has been to all of them but five.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to go to lot of places growing up, but now I’m addicted,” he says.

John grew up in Michigan, where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. He was originally set on come to Arizona State University for his MBA, but at the last minute was offered an alluring financial aid package to attend the University of Toledo.

As an MBA student, John worked as a graduate assistant to a marketing professor, where the seed for teaching was planted. Shortly after leaving Ohio, John began working for a private higher ed organization focused on working professionals. He’d often have to substitute whenever one of the instructors failed to show up.

“When I talked to my old professor, he encouraged me to get my PhD, telling me he thought I had the chops to be a professor. He has just been to a conference at ASU, and was very complimentary about the faculty, so I applied to the PhD program,” John says.

John taught at the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona before returning to his Sun Devil origins.

In 2006, then-department chair Michael Mokwa began the clinical faculty program at W. P. Carey, and reached out to John. John began teaching at his old school and hasn’t looked back. "It's like I never left." 

John has been highly recognized for his achievements in the classroom, including winning the the 2010 and 2016 Huizingh Outstanding Undergraduate Professor Awards, the 2013 and 2017 Huizingh Outstanding Undergraduate Service Awards, the 2011 Huizingh Outstanding Honors Professor Award, and the 2009 and 2018 John W. Teets Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award. Last year, he was named University Faculty Advisor of the Year for his contributions to the Sports Business Association student organization, which he helped start in 2007. 

“I’m a huge sports guy – I like the Cardinals. In my wedding vows, in front of 150 witnesses, my wife promised to let me go to the Super Bowl if the Cardinals ever make it that far. So I got to go, along with my dad and my brother, back in 2009. It was awesome. And I still made it back Monday morning in time to teach class,” says John, with a laugh.

When he’s not busy teaching Marketing and Business Performance, you can find John hiking, or climbing mountains. He’s been to the top of 44 of the 50 states’ highest peaks.

Professional

What do you like about your job? One hundred percent, without a doubt: the students. I teach marketing concepts to students of every major except marketing. They go in thinking it’s going to be awful, but they come out amazed. I’m the Eddie Davila of marketing. Like him, I teach large lecture classes, but I try to create value for them and give them an understanding they’ll use in their careers.

What is one interesting or fun fact about your team/office? One wall of my office was filled with student signatures I’ve collected throughout the years from amazing students who have made a big impact on me. This summer, Facilities repainted my office and I had to start over with a clean slate. The students and alumni who have come back to visit me since then get to sign it again.

What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event? My favorite event is graduation, but not for the reason you might think. For the last eight years, I’ve read the names of the graduates. It’s fantastic, because most of the students have come through my class at some point, and it’s nice to see the familiar ones. It’s fun to be there as they walk across the stage, and I get to be a part of their special day.

Where is your “never fail” lunch spot on or near campus? The Chuckbox. It was the very first place I ate when I came to campus. It’s a bit nostalgic for me to still see it there.

Personal

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? I climbed the Phoenix Seven Summits (the seven highest peaks in Phoenix) in ONE day with a group of friends and colleagues.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Iceland – seeing the volcanoes would be amazing.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Time travel, so I can go see more places in less time.

What movie can you watch over and over? Old School – I throw in a lot of references to it in lectures and tests.

What was your favorite television show growing up and now? Back then: Happy Days. Currently: The Office.

Preferences

Salty or sweet? Salty
Coffee or tea? Iced Tea
Soda or energy drink? Neither
Cat or dog? Dog
Truck or car? Car
Board games or video games? Board games
Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction
Facebook or face-to-face? I’ve never even had a Facebook account
Breakfast or lunch? Both
Morning person or night owl? Morning person