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Arturo Minera
When Dr. Jose Saavedra Torres arrived at Northern Kentucky University for an on-campus job interview in 2019, he knew it was the place for him. 

“I fell in love with it—the campus and the people,” he says. “I had no clue about northern Kentucky. I had no ties here. But that sense of community was so real, not like a corporation. When you have this kind of community, it’s easier to grow.”

Dr. Saavedra T, who is from Venezuela, is an assistant professor of marketing on the tenure track. He received his bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in advertising and public relations from the Universidad del Zulia and then pursued a dual-degree MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración and Emory University. But his goal wasn’t always to work in higher education. 

“I planned to join the corporate world, but I loved the idea of being a professor,” he says. “For the first time, I thought, ‘I could do that as a career.’ But in my head, I knew I needed more experience to work in academia.” 

Dr. Saavedra T gained teaching experience as an adjunct professor for six years while he worked full time in various roles in marketing and advertising.  

"At NKU, there is a sense of ‘We appreciate who you are, we value your opinion and we’re going to give you our support.’"

In 2015, he and his family moved to the U.S., where he began pursuing a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in marketing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He taught marketing and business classes while he was in his doctorate program. 

And in the fall of 2019, Dr. Saavedra T ended up at NKU. 

As the only Latino tenure-track professor at the time, Dr. Saavedra T understood that seeing diversity among faculty was important. 

“I know some students don’t see themselves reflected in their professors,” he says. “The [Haile] College of Business is really diverse. We have people from everywhere, and I think having a diverse space like this… it’s a safe space for students to be.” 

Not only did Dr. Saavedra T have to transition to a much smaller university, but he also quickly learned that the student population at NKU was much different than what he was used to. 

“I came from a larger university where the idea of student-workers or students struggling to pay tuition every semester was not an issue. There was a big focus on first-generation students, and it was a huge discovery for me. I didn’t belong to that group because my father is a professor in Venezuela. My approach to class changed. My approach to how to help students changed. My approach to being more flexible changed. I’ve changed a lot as a faculty member.” 

And that discovery led to Dr. Saavedra T pursuing more ways to meet students where they are—including creating a new class for students to give them experience in sales before they graduate. 

“That would have never happened at my old university,” he says. “At NKU, there is a sense of ‘We appreciate who you are, we value your opinion and we’re going to give you our support.’ The fact that I was able to create a new class spoke loudly about how eager NKU is to support new initiatives and professors with new ideas that can bring value to the students, the university and the region.”

About This Article

October 2023

Written by
Jayna Morris ('22)
Editor, NKU Magazine