Dr. Paul Sam

Paul Sam, Ph.D.

A young man sits in a dark, one-room efficiency apartment on an urban island packed with more than seven million people. Out of them all, he knows none. He’s used to tropical temperatures and suya, a favorite dish in his homeland, not ramen noodles for dinner and three flights of stairs. The elevator in his building is broken, but Paul Sam is going nowhere but up.

At the age of 20, Sam traveled to the United States on his parents’ promise that he could return home if he got too homesick. Home was more than 5,250 miles away, in Nigeria. He had just crossed an ocean, from the West Coast of Africa to New York City, living in an unfamiliar country and climate – for the sake of an education. But Sam didn’t need to return home – because for him, there are no bounds on his commitment to learning.

The promise of warmer winters led Sam to leave New York in search of educational opportunities in Dallas, Texas, earning his bachelor’s in economics and finance from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1985, as well as an MBA in management from Amberton University in1989. But Sam’s search and education didn’t stop there.

His original journey from the Gulf of Guinea landed him near the Gulf of Mexico, in Houston, where he earned a Master of International Business from the University of St. Thomas. That degree was followed by his PhD in organization and management with a specialty in information technology management from Capella University. His commitment to education expanded from a love of learning to a love of teaching.

Sam began teaching for LeTourneau University in 2000. In the 12 years since then, he has taught 25 different business courses on-ground and online at both the undergraduate and graduate level as an adjunct faculty member.

He has taught operations management, organizational behavior, strategy, leadership, statistics, management, entrepreneurial leadership, innovation and leadership, international business, cross cultural issues in business and management computer systems. But beyond his expertise in communicating business concepts to students, he builds relationships with them.

“I love teaching students – transferring knowledge to them and seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they learn,” Sam said. “It brings me so much joy.”

His joy is contagious, almost tangible. Sam is the sort of professor that lights up a room with his enthusiasm, for business, but more importantly for people. He is the sort of professor who students come back to visit, even after they finish his classes because his love for teaching continues to inspire them. He is the professor who stops to pray with a student before her class presentation after learning that her five-year-old was killed. Faith, and living God’s love, he knows is more important than a grade.

However, learning and teaching are only two components of Sam’s educational trajectory. He has also pursued an exceptional career in business. He worked at Hewlett Packard as a global project manager, where he traveled extensively as part of a multinational team, facilitating the corporation’s technological initiatives internationally. Since 2008, he has served as director of operations at Benchmark Electronics. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), as well as in Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM). He also holds a Master’s Certification in Project Management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His experience in business informs his teaching.

Sam also finds time to volunteer as an administrator at his church in Houston, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, where he teaches adult Sunday School classes and also assists in counseling and conflict resolution. His faith walk is a pivotal part of his journey across international borders, over state lines and into the lives of students.

For Sam, learning fuels limitless possibility. Whether sitting at his computer after work communicating with a student in an online devotional forum or standing at a podium espousing the premises of project management, he translates this possibility to other budding business professionals, expanding their global perspectives and preparing them to impact the world – the world he crossed for the sake of education.

Written by Kate Gronewald
Photographed by Johnny Hanson