“You should always be concerned about people with a lot of titles,” says Mark Manfredo, with a laugh. Mark is the associate dean for W. P. Carey School at the ASU Polytechnic campus, director of the the Morrison School of Agribusiness, and Professor.
Fortunately, Mark doesn’t let titles go to his head.
Between hiring, budgeting, donor relations, orientations, sitting on the Polytechnic leadership team, hosting high school FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and FFA (Future Farmers of America) conferences, he also teaches courses in commodity futures and options markets and agribusiness finance.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college. One of my 4H mentors said, ‘Hey, why don’t you study agribusiness?’ So I looked into it.”
As an undergraduate student at Fresno State, Mark, like many of our students, was trying to decide what career he wanted to pursue.
“Then I wondered, how do I get the job that my professors have? That looks like a fun job!” says Mark. “I liked giving talks in front of audiences, plus I was tutoring introductory microeconomics at the time, so figured being a professor may be a great fit”.
“Of course I know now there is a lot more to it, but that is how I thought as an undergraduate”.
“The fantastic professors I had as an undergraduate inspired me to ultimately pursue a PhD and become a professor too,” he says.
Mark went on to earn an MS in Agricultural Economics at New Mexico State University and received his PhD from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999.
“When I graduated [with my PhD], ASU had an opening at the Morrison School. I said, ‘That looks interesting. I’ll apply to that!’ And I’ve been here ever since.”
When the Morrison School became part of W. P. Carey in 2013, Mark was named director.
“One of the things I like is finding ways we can work together with industry. I enjoy helping companies see what W. P. Carey can lend to the conversation about the business of the food industry. When I meet with food retailers and agribusiness industry professionals, I try to understand what their problems are, and think about how academic research can address some of those issues.”
“In the next few years, the school is going to continue to gain recognition as a place that brings together the business of food and agriculture,” says Mark.
What do you like about your job?
I like learning about what our faculty is researching. Since I have become director, I’ve taken much more of an interest in the topics that they are researching. It’s fascinating. And I love collaborating with people in other departments across the university and finding ways to do multidisciplinary research.
What have you learned on another job that you’ve applied at W. P. Carey School?
I worked at K-Mart as a customer care specialist back in college. It taught me a lot of patience. I learned how to connect with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event?
I really like Night of the Open Door. Our W. P. Carey Night of the Open Door station at the Polytechnic Campus rocked this year. It included a beverage taste test, balloon artists, and a game teaching children about the supply chain of orange juice production. The kids loved it.
Where is your “never fail” lunch spot on or near campus and what’s your favorite menu item?
There’s not a slew of restaurants near the Poly campus, but our team occasionally indulges in “Pizza Fridays.” It’s a tradition at this point. A few times a semester, we’ll order pizza for the entire crew, and someone always bring in some sort of baked good to share.
Have you ever received especially good advice?
Sure, lots of it from many influential people in my life. I don’t remember any specific piece of advice that was particularly noteworthy, but I absorbed it all. Today, though, I am notorious among our students for giving out advice. I tell them, “Advice is cheap, so listen.” I take this as an important role of my job. Our students have so much potential. I want to help them learn up to their full potential. I wasn’t a genius in college, but I was a good student and worked very hard. So I can relate. And I know if you put in the effort, you can achieve great things.
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
My very first job was in the eighth grade. I delivered ice on a golf cart at the Y94 chili cook-off in Madera, Calif. Y94 was a local radio station in nearby Fresno, and the chili cook-off attracted about 100,000 people to our small town annually. It was a hard job!
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would love to fly fish in New Zealand someday.
If you could be in any other career, what would it be?
I’ve never seen myself as anything other than a college professor. I simply can’t picture doing anything else.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
About 10 years ago, my dad, my brother, and I flew into Alaska for a fly fishing excursion in the tundra. The plane landed on a tiny pond in the middle of nowhere. And there were brown bears everywhere!
What’s your hidden talent?
I can do impersonations of former U.S. presidents. My impressions of Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton are the best. I also do a great imitation of Darth Vader.
- Salty or sweet? Salty
- Coffee or tea? Coffee
- Soda or energy drink? Soda
- Cat or dog? Dogs
- Truck or car? Truck
- Board games or video games? Board games
- Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction
- Facebook or face-to-face? Face-to-face
- Breakfast or lunch? Breakfast
- Morning person or night owl? Night owl