Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business
Ric Sweeney

Relationship Marketing

Marketing professor goes the extra mile to connect students to real-world applications.

When Ric Sweeney reflects on his career as assistant professor-educator in the Department of Marketing at the Lindner College of Business, he recalls a sixth-grade writing assignment about his future aspirations to be a teacher.

As life went on, his professional career veered into the world of business, working as a marketing strategist for the nation’s leading children’s hospital, consumer advocacy Internet site, top advertising agency and a bank.

When he arrived at the Lindner College of Business in 2005, he continued his work as a marketing strategist for the college, but he also embarked on a new career, the one he wrote about in sixth grade.  

“Call it foreshadowing,” he says of the teaching profession that has earned him dozens of accolades, including the 2012 George Barbour Award For Good Faculty-Student Relations.

Sweeney began his UC teaching career as director of the Master of Science in Marketing program, teaching both graduate- and undergraduate-level courses. As he became involved in student organizations, Sweeney switched his teaching focus to undergraduate studies, “where student connections have a greater impact,” he says. He now serves as director of the undergraduate marketing program.

Sweeney uses his extensive business background and creative teaching style to make his classroom lessons come alive, transforming his years of marketing experience into relevant classroom lessons.

Taking a hands-on approach, he relies heavily on anecdotes and reinforces marketing principles with real-world examples.  He rips pages out of magazines, snaps photos of billboards and searches YouTube for humorous commercials to engage students in learning.

“Did you know Brad Pitt sells iced coffee in Japan?” he says, citing another lesson example of celebrities in advertising.

He supports and motivates students outside the classroom too, by serving as faculty advisor to a large number of student organizations, including the newly formed Marketing Leadership Circle, UC Collegiate Chapter of the American Marketing Association, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Student Government Senate and Cabinet, and the list goes on. As a testament to his leadership, his students win awards and case competitions and land great jobs.

He’ll spend summer preparing to launch a new class fall 2012 term. E-Marketing will allow him to teach students to connect with consumers through the interactive means of social media. Students will partner with an actual company for a real social media project experience they can use on their resume, Sweeney says.

“The marketing principles are the same, but the application of marketing changes; it’s what makes marketing exciting,” he says.

 Sweeney is all about adding to the classroom experience and helping students succeed—before and after graduation.

With nearly 700 undergraduate students passing through his classroom doors each term, he’s made a lasting impression. His higher-than-average teacher evaluations are a testament to his teaching success.

“When you inspire and motivate, then you know you’re doing your job,” Sweeney says.

On a personal level, he attends commencement twice a year and writes recommendation letters for awards, scholarships and employment and attends award ceremonies as a way to express his pride.

Many of his students remain in touch after graduation, with dinner and wedding invitations, or to ask for career advice.

No doubt, says Karen Machleit, department head and professor of marketing in the Lindner College of Business, Sweeney has “created a legacy of inspiration at UC.”

“Our success as a University relies, in part, on the success of our students, and Professor Sweeney certainly demonstrates a passion for student success,” Machleit says.

Sweeney never imagined he’d fulfill that goal he wrote about as a sixth grader, but he’s glad he did.

Still, he likes the focus to be about his students.

“It’s not about me; it’s about students succeeding,” he says.