Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Marlon Andrus Scholarship Story

Behind every Salt Lake Community College scholarship is a story about how and why the scholarship was created. With the Marlon Andrus Scholarship, the story is about Marlon Andrus, a former professor in SLCC’s Department of Finance and Economics.

Andrus, who died in January 2018, was more than a teacher to many of his students; he was a mentor, a friend and even a father figure. He connected with his students in the classroom, but he continued to support them as they moved on to higher education and careers. As Ben Jones, one of Andrus’s former students, explained: “Marlon really cared about every individual. If people asked for help, he would always give it. He went out of his way to help others.”

A Banker Who Became a Teacher

Before Andrus became a teacher, he had a successful career in finance. He spent more than 14 years as a vice president and manager of First Security Bank. Even though Andrus was highly skilled in the intricacies of finance, the banking world wasn’t the best fit for him.

Andrus decided to give up his lucrative career to work as a professor at SLCC, and teaching turned out to be his true calling. He taught at SLCC for more than 30 years and earned many awards, including the National Teaching Excellence Award from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs.

Students were always Andrus’s first priority. According to Rose Jansen, one of his former students, Andrus was always enthusiastic about teaching finance. “He was an excellent storyteller,” she said. “He used stories to connect the curriculum to the students’ lives. He gave students confidence. He wanted to empower them with knowledge about finance so they could make better choices in their lives.”

Some of Andrus’ students, like Ben Jones, pursued careers in finance. As a teenager, Jones planned on becoming a professional snowboarder, but a knee injury altered that career trajectory.

Fortunately, some new options opened for Jones. While attending one of Andrus’s classes at SLCC, he met Roger McQueen, a former managing partner at Northwestern Mutual Investment Services. Andrus encouraged Jones to pursue an internship with Northwestern Mutual. As Jones explained, “He didn’t know it then, but that was the exact moment that Marlon opened the door to finance as a career option for me. But at the same time, he made it clear that it was up to me to pursue it.” Jones took the internship opportunity, and today he is the managing director and head of intermediary distribution at BMO Global Asset Management.

Andrus referred many students to McQueen for internship opportunities, and quite a few of those former students have successful careers in finance today. “Marlon created opportunities for people,” McQueen said.

Andrus’ dedication as a teacher and mentor to students inspired McQueen, along with some help from his company, to create the Marlon Andrus Scholarship at SLCC in 2007. Many of Andrus’s former students donated to the scholarship as well.

The scholarship provides educational opportunities and is the perfect way to honor Marlon Andrus. “The scholarship was a life event for Marlon,” said Jansen. “His students were his family.”

A Networker, a Friend and a Mentor

Andrus’ students were important to him, and he made sure to stay connected to them after they left his classroom. He wrote countless letters of recommendation for his former students, and he was always available to provide career and life advice at a moment’s notice. “Marlon was a port in a storm for his students,” Jansen said.

Andrus also hosted card game sessions for his students and friends so they could get to know each other. He sent almost daily emails to the people in his circle so they would stay connected. He also met his students and friends for frequent lunches. “We would go to lunch at his favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, where I would solicit his thoughts and opinions on finance, life and work,” Jones recalled. “As my career progressed, I became more aware of how impactful his mentorship had been to me.”

Toward the end of his life when he was sick with cancer, several of Andrus’s former students decided to return the help and support he had always given to them. They did yard work for him and other chores and remained in close contact with him. “It was an honor for me to help Marlon,” Jansen stated.

After Andrus passed away at the age of 79, only two years after retiring from SLCC, Jansen helped to clean out his house and distribute his personal items. In doing that, she found that Andrus collected many inspirational quotes, and she found one quote from an anonymous source that she believes describes Marlon Andrus perfectly:

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

If you would like to honor the legacy of Marlon Andrus by donating to the scholarship in his name, please, click here.