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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2023 Creating Pathways to Excellence

Tom Tripp Honors Legacy of Rom Markin

By Sue McMurray

Courtesy Jodi Tripp Photography

If you ever need to negotiate for a kidney, you want someone trained by Professor Tom Tripp to do the talking.

For 32 years, Tripp has taught Leading People and Organizations, a Carson College of Business leadership course in which students learn how to communicate persuasively. He designs specific assignments to help them develop this skill, including the “kidney exercise”—a scenario where eight candidates require a kidney, but there is only one to be had. Students divide into eight teams and determine who they think should get the kidney. Each team then presents a persuasive argument using tactics discussed in class.

Besides persuasive communication, students learn other important skills in class that will benefit their careers as future business leaders, for example, how to develop trust with coworkers, create a fair workplace, and lead organizational change.

“I cannot count how many times I referenced a lesson from this course,” says Anthony Lloyd, a 46-year-old WSU Vancouver student who works as a machine shop supervisor. “It really showed me the way to success in my career. I changed the way I manage as a result of this course and continue to improve due to the concepts presented.”

The college leadership course and other scholarly activities Tripp conducts are enhanced by his role as the Rom Markin Endowed Leadership Chair in Business, an appointment he earned in 2018 recognizing his achievements as a scholar, teacher, and researcher.

During his 15-year tenure as dean, Markin led the college’s development as a modern, comprehensive, professional school of business.

“Having this chair gives me more credibility with the students,” Tripp says. “It allows me to learn more about leadership, especially in areas of managing conflict, that I can share with them.”

Endowed chairs typically accomplish two particularly important goals in college settings: providing faculty with resources to conduct research that improves best business practices, and providing competitive salaries to attract and retain prestigious faculty.

Endowed chair enables Tripp to advance college programs

As the Markin chair, Tripp advances the college’s educational programs in an increasingly competitive environment. He led the college’s biggest revision of the undergraduate program, launching The Next Carson Coug (TNCC) curriculum that focuses heavily on career preparedness.

Since TNCC launched in 2019, Tripp has supported the faculty and staff to revise and build new courses, reduce class sizes, and develop the Carson Career Amplifier program, which encourages students to engage in career-building activities early in their college years.

Tripp is a management professor at WSU Vancouver and the college’s senior associate dean for academic affairs. He leads efforts to improve learning effectiveness and the overall experience of business students. The Markin chair endowment covers a portion of his salary so he can work on learning effectiveness at each Carson College location. The chair also supports Tripp in attending conferences, building professional networks, and conducting research.

“I hope that by the time I retire, my work honors Dr. Markin’s legacy while I help make the Carson College of Business the school of choice for students who want to study business in the Pacific Northwest,” Tripp says.