Business of reinvention
By Steve Neumann
Senior instructor of economics and business, Richard Schott, MBA, received a standing ovation as he accepted the Edward R. Gilbert Annual Pride Award at last year’s Faculty and Staff Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon.
“It was really special to me because I knew Ed Gilbert,” Schott says. “I used to work with him over in Teel Hall, and I knew he was a person with a good heart.”
And if you know Rich Schott, then you know both the award and the ovation were well deserved. Awardees are nominated by peers, in recognition of perseverance, respect, initiative, desire and — perhaps most notably for Schott — enthusiasm. A gregarious free spirit who always embodies a positive attitude on campus, Schott has been regaling students with stories from his past real-world experience and bringing fresh ideas to his teaching for 25 years.
Courage to change course
But Schott never intended to be in education, or to teach. After he graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in marketing management, he returned to his native Pottstown to work for a succession of companies in business-to-business sales while working towards his master’s in business administration at St. Joseph’s University at night. And though he loved sales, Schott says he was beginning to feel burned out from a life on the road.
“I did a lot of traveling and I really had a hard time getting up in the morning,” Schott says. “I laugh to think about it now, but I went through what I thought was a midlife crisis back in my thirties.”
So Schott did something he considered foolish — he left his job without having another one lined up. At the time, he thought he would look into a position with a corporate training program, maybe in the sales or marketing department.
“But I found out that Albright College needed someone in admissions, and it sounded like something that was sort of sales-related,” Schott says.
Not long after Schott started in admissions, he met economics and business professor Jim Moyer, head of Albright’s business department at the time, during a meeting where faculty members would connect with admissions to let them know what was going on in their department so that admissions staff could go out and talk to students about it. “
Jim just happened to throw out there that they were looking for someone to teach marketing because one of the professors was on sabbatical,” Schott says. “So I went up to him after the meeting and he literally said, ‘Well, can you teach in two weeks?’”
“I didn’t have much notice,” he says, “but I did it.”
Schott has never looked back since that fateful day when he met Jim Moyer — and that’s been good for both Schott and students at Albright College both inside and outside the classroom.
Schott, along with Brian Pinto from the development office, coordinated the first LGBT alumni and student mixer during Homecoming a few years ago, with 40 alumni and students attending. He created a new course called Principles of Selling where he draws extensively from his own past sales experience. He worked with the development office to get his students a private tour of the original Hershey Chocolate Company plant, since torn down, that was built in 1905. And Schott even had Albert Boscov, long-time head of Boscov’s Department Store, come and speak to his Business, Government and Society course before Boscov passed away in 2017.
But there’s still at least one more thing on Schott’s wish list.
“I would love to teach a traveling course on business history,” Schott says, “where you go around and visit different companies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and maybe even New York and Chicago.”
“That’s kind of my dream before I retire,” he says.