FROM KINDERGARTEN IN KANSAS TO SUCCESS AT SYRACUSE: SCOTT FAY’S LIFELONG COMMITMENT TO LEARNING
“Education, to me, simply means learning more about the world around us and developing a better understanding of the way this world works. Thus, education is a lifelong process,” says Scott Fay, associate professor of marketing and Whitman research fellow. Fay’s enduring devotion to education is evident when listing just a few of his many academic accomplishments. He has served as an editorial board member for both the Journal of Interactive Marketing and Marketing Science, presented at the selective Summer Institute in Competitive Strategy, authored 18 research publications in prominent outlets and received the Journal of Interactive Marketing Best Paper Award in 2011.
After earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan, Fay joined the faculty of the University of Florida as a marketing professor. He achieved early successes in research with his work being published in prestigious journals in the economics and marketing fields.
In 2009, Fay found himself attracted to the well-rounded culture at Syracuse University and accepted a faculty position at Whitman. Since making the move to Syracuse, Fay continues to be published in leading journals on the topics of name-your-own-pricing and probabilistic selling.
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Fay grew up in a family that never went to college. His father worked in a warehouse doing physical labor, while his mother worked in a daycare. Fay’s parents wanted a better life for him and encouraged him from a very young age to embrace and appreciate education. Fay showed early on that he was committed to his education. “My parents told me that after my first day of kindergarten, I said I was going to college,” he recalls.
Fay stood by his kindergarten vow and enrolled in the University of Tulsa as a philosophy major. Hungry to learn, he barreled through the curriculum in two years. “I completed the philosophy coursework by the end of my sophomore year, so I figured I should pursue a second major, so I chose economics” he adds. Fay loved learning so much that he continued on to graduate school and decided to dedicate his life to academics.
When it came time for a job, the University of Florida saw the value of Fay’s economic knowledge in the marketing professorship space. “They convinced me that the research I was doing in economics was just as publishable in marketing,” says Fay. It was during his time at Florida that Fay found mentorship in Steve Shugan, editor of Marketing Science, and Jinhong Xie, an associate professor. Shugan encouraged Fay to run for the position of newsletter editor for the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science. Fay won the election, and, as a junior professor, the position gave him the extraordinary opportunity to meet “stars” of marketing research, which helped him become well known in the field.
Xie helped Fay refine research ideas and understand what a marketing audience looked for in published work. The two have continued their partnership and co-contributions on research papers despite Fay’s relocation to Syracuse.
The University of Florida played an instrumental part in Fay’s growth and career; however, he readily took the opportunity to become a professor at Syracuse University. It is more than Fay’s love of snow that made Whitman a perfect fit for him. “I noticed a much different and well-rounded culture at Syracuse,” Fay adds. “It’s a positive culture that encourages you do to what you are best at doing, respects you for it and supports you in succeeding.” Fay loves that professors are valued for what they contribute to Whitman and use their strongest assets to make Whitman a better business school.
Fay also values being a part of Whitman’s diverse faculty. He explains that research faculty and professors of practice interact regularly, which makes for a more cohesive and collegial environment.
Fay’s contributions to the progression of the marketing department have been many and varied. He has taught an array of undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Retail, Introduction to Marketing for Non-Management Students, Marketing Management, Recitation for Integrated Core and Marketing 960. Additionally, Fay is the current official chair of two dissertation committees and has been a member of five dissertation committees.
Fay explains that the biggest challenge of professorship is learning how to structure and balance work. “There are very few external constraints and a lack of a strict structure, so a professor must continuously be self-motivated. It’s knowing how to spend your time wisely and truly understanding what wise means,” he adds. For Fay, spending time wisely means trying to balance his committees, research and support for his students. “I’m working on high impact projects, but my Ph.D. students take first priority because publishing for them has a much bigger effect on their careers. They need to publish in order to land a job,” Fay explains. “Publishing my work just adds to my extensive list.”
His selflessness in helping his students reaps mutual rewards. “Teaching doctoral students has been incredibly gratifying,” Fay states. He explains that the students are extremely appreciative of any help they receive and he is able to teach them in a holistic manner that goes beyond just the once-a-week, three-hour seminar; it’s a journey that takes years to complete. Fay’s students recognize and value his deep commitment.
“Scott was one of the main reasons I decided to join the doctoral program back in 2012,” says doctoral candidate Cong Feng. “He has been a joy to work with, and I am truly grateful to him for his advice, encouragement, support and patience throughout the past few years. He is knowledgeable, helpful and understanding. I am sincerely indebted to him for making my time in the program enriching and enjoyable.”
Fay is an incredibly accomplished faculty member, but when asked what he is most proud of he simply says, “being a father to my three girls.” The best part of being a professor, according to Fay, is the freedom that doing research allows. He is able to work on topics that he finds most interesting while also having the control over how and where to spend his time. He chooses to spend a lot of his time at home where he can simultaneously work on his research and play an active role in helping his wife homeschool their girls.
Fay views positive, early exposure to education as critical and emulates his parents in conveying the value of learning to his students at Whitman and to his daughters at home. “Ultimately, most of our learning occurs outside of the classroom and continues over the remainder of our lives,” adds Fay. “I want to help foster in all of my students a life-long desire and appreciation for the limitless possibilities of education.”