Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Cozzens is an active member of the HRD community. A former graduate of the HRD program, he is currently serving as a professor for the Organizational Change Management course, which he has taught in both the distance and on-campus programs. Larry’s teaching experiences include time at both Pierce College and Cabrini College.
Click below to read more about what Larry recently checked off of his bucket list and about his road to becoming an organizational change subject matter expert!
Q: How many years have you been teaching at Villanova (how many years have you been teaching in general)?
A: My Villanova teaching experience began in 2001 with a weekend workshop on Memory Improvement that Dr. Bush transitioned to me when he was spending more time developing and running the HRD program. I continue to enjoy delivering that topic and have added two other one credit workshops, Creative Problem Solving and Time Management. They help me to keep the skills sharp and offer the opportunity to interact with a different type of student.
Q: Where did you begin your teaching career?
A: My “teaching” began when I was recruited by Peirce College to be an “internal faculty” member in the inaugural course for SmithKline Beecham students who were in an Associates Degree program. The students were all employees of the company and the classes were held at SKB facilities. I have many fond memories of student projects, including one where the team developed a product and pitched it. They contacted my administrative assistant and used a picture of me to put on a Manager Voodoo doll, complete with pins. It was a total surprise!
From there, I followed many of them to Cabrini as they completed their bachelor’s degree, teaching the capstone course in the program which was a business simulation. The opportunity to teach at Villanova in the distance learning HRD program was perfectly timed after a corporate position was eliminated due to the economic down turn in 2008.
Q: If you had to pick just ONE area of Human Resources in which you would label yourself a rock star, which function would that be?
A: My passion is learning and my strength is in development and delivery of engaging and fun learning experiences, so I would have to answer Learning and Organization Development. My doctoral dissertation is about creating a learning community or what is called a community of practice. I studied how a franchise of bakers around the country shared information about their businesses and what it took to create the “spirit” of community among them. I look forward to continuously improving and adding to the Organization Training course and finding new and interesting examples to use in Organization Change Management.
Q: Would you share something New/Good in your personal life?
A: Last summer I attended a spiritual retreat at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM which was on my “bucket list”. The time away and unplugged from the world, although I taught a class one evening, was refreshing and uplifting. The high desert and red rocks landscape were spectacular which gave me plenty of photo opportunities. This was the week when the East coast had an earth quake and hurricane so it was a good time to be away.
Q: Would you share something New/Good in your professional career?
A: The best thing about my career is the transition to teaching as my primary role after being an internal corporate Organization Development professional. After working for three major corporations, it is wonderful to be able to share that experience with other HRD professionals in this program. I keep my classroom delivery skills sharp by continuing to conduct training for smaller corporations through a non-profit member based HR service organization, part-time.
Q: How do you balance your personal life/interests with professional work & teaching?
A: What is balance? I’ve always felt that an ideal job would be where I got up in the morning looking forward to what the day would bring and crashed into bed at night having a sense of accomplishment without feeling that I had been “at work”. I just did what I love. That is what I feel most days now. There is no need for balance between work and personal because there is not a clear line between them. The challenge sometimes is to make enough time for self renewal and relationships, which is where I attempt to practice the time management skills that I teach.
Q: Do you find that experiences you have in your professional career prepare you for the courses you teach in the HRD program or vice versa?
A: I often tell the story about Dr. Bush, who was my advisor when I was a student in the HRD program, encouraging me to continue my education and earn my Ph.D. That was not something I had ever considered. In 1999, I graduated from the Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara CA, via distance learning with a Ph.D in Human and Organization Development. This credential did not have an immediately return on investment, however combined with my corporate experience in Training and Development; it opened doors for me to be involved with the start of the distance learning HRD program.
Q: You work full time and teach at least once class term in the evenings could you share tips/tricks you use to stay organized on top of all of these commitments?
A: At this point in my career my primary activity is adjunct faculty at Villanova and I manage my other employment around that. I believe the trick is access to the tools so that response to students and ability to complete the work necessary for both employers is blended together.
I learned when juggling my Ph.D. studies, a family and a corporate career that you needed to “do two things at once and make one thing count twice”. I never went anywhere, even the bathroom, without a book and also realized when were my best times to accomplish certain tasks, like reading or writing at 5:30 am, and when I was only able to deal with mundane tasks like email, usually late at night.
Q: Any words of advice for HRD students planning to enroll in any of your courses?
A: You get out of the course what you put into it. My role is to create an environment and a structure that will allow students to find what it is that interests them and to be willing to share their experience with others. I was transformed from a student to a learner through an independent study course I took with Dr. Bush because I was studying something that interested me rather than just what was in the text. Be engaged, contribute your experience, study something that is applicable to your current position, and create something that is useful to you and your employer.
Q: Any words of advice that you would offer to students searching for new jobs or internships?
A: My experience is that career searches, which I have done successfully three times after position eliminations, are a faith experience. Use all of the resources that you can, work it as hard as you would a regular job AND have faith that you will be provided with opportunities for discernment about yourself and what you are meant to do next. Be open to new possibilities.
Q: What is the best way to network with you (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+)?
A: LinkedIn is my preferred method of staying connected with professional colleagues and I encourage all my students to send me a request to be connected. If I can help by making an introduction to my network, I am more than willing to use the system and write a short personal introduction if I know the student. We also have many very experienced and well placed students and I am honored to know them and be part of VR HRD alumni.
Q: How do you stay connected to colleagues and former students?
A: There are several key events that are almost required attendance in the Philadelphia HR community. I always get something out of the PHRPS Leadership Forum and of course the Villanova HRD networking event, which was another sold out success this year. It seems like a reunion when I attend because I get to catch up with colleagues that I have known for many years. LinkedIn updates keep me informed in between events.
Q: What is the best word of advice that you’ve ever received?
A: Do what you love and the money will follow. This is sometimes difficult to achieve but if you are aware of your strengths and maximize the use of them then you will be recognized for your contributions. It will also be intrinsically rewarding.
Thank you very much – take care and good luck with everything.