A "Fulbrighter" Is Named at Marilyn Davies College of Business
By Sheryl E. Taylor
She joins more than 380,000 recipients since its inception in 1946.
The distinguished company she now keeps includes 59 Nobel Laureates, 84 Pulitzer Prize winners, 72 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across private, public and non-profit sectors.
A letter, dated January 15, 2019, made it official.
The Fremont, Michigan native has traveled the globe—40 countries and counting. Her next stop is Poland’s University of Gdańsk, where she will join the Faculty of Management for six months in early 2020. She will be teaching innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategy, which according to TenBrink is still essential in this transitioning economy, one that became free of communism—only a mere 30 years ago in 1989.
“Since the fall of communism, one might think that access to capital is plentiful. However, many institutional barriers have coalesced to offer steep challenges that we have not been exposed to here. For example, it has been harder for Poland to find money,” she noted. “Poland is faced with many financial challenges that we are not accustomed to in the U.S. We have access to a thriving venture market and many other sources of equity and debt. Additionally, we have a plethora of tools to succeed in business and thrive. Firms in Poland still face cultural divides, competition from neighboring countries, and lack of a deep network of differentiated products.”
While in Gdansk she will be spending months studying how growth firms innovate and engage in strategic actions that result in superior performance.
She describes herself as an “entrepreneur at heart, currently creating innovative and experiential learning opportunities in strategy, and soon to a new course that blends innovation and technology at UHD.”
“I’m always looking for scholarly activities and global opportunities that the students will find fun or useful,” she added.
It sounds like she may have honed in on both. This spring, TenBrink will lead a student group to Slovenia and Austria to study innovation and growth.
After she attended a Fulbright workshop last spring, she delved into a three-month application process for a Fulbright Scholarship. During this process she once again realized how fortunate she was to be associated with so many positive people who encouraged and helped her traverse the long application process. It also led her to become a designated Fulbright liaison for UHD.
She credits this opportunity to a supportive faculty mentor and Dr. Jerry Johnson, assistant vice president for the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP).
“Dr. TenBrink exhibited an infectious enthusiasm and methodical approach to her (Fulbright) application which allowed her to be successful,” said Johnson. “She formulated a great idea for her application, developed and fostered a mutually beneficial partnership with the host institution in Poland, and spent the necessary time and attention to transmitting her enthusiasm and expertise in her application package and interview. These collective actions allowed her to secure an award in a very crowded and competitive field. I am very proud of her efforts and accomplishment. ORSP looks forward to providing her additional support for all of her future endeavors.”
TenBrink’s road to UHD is well-traveled with varied careers.
After graduating from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad School of Business with an undergraduate degree in material and logistics management, she followed her dream career to California’s Silicon Valley as a buyer, consultant and operations manufacturing planner.
She worked on Wall Street after graduating from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan where she earned an MBA.
In Chicago, after graduate school, she did some acting (Fun Fact: She shared the same acting coach as actress Halle Berry).
Before entering the world of academia, she founded and served as a managing partner of Altos Entertainment, an independent movie production company in New York for seven years. The company produced the 2007 movie, “Cherry Valley.”
Eventually, she landed in the Lone Star State thanks to her husband’s career and became a stay-at-home mom.
Not one to not be busy, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Houston’s (UH) C.T. Bauer College of Business, where she taught undergraduate management courses.
“While at UH, I discovered that I really liked teaching,” said TenBrink.
In 2016, she joined the faculty at the Davies College.
So what’s on her plate now? The development of a certificate in Sustainability & Entrepreneurship offered through a joint collaboration between the Davies College and the College of Sciences & Technology (CST). And, a new innovation and technology course is on the horizon thanks to this collaboration.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.