The most interesting man in the world has nothing on Dr. Marian Simion.
The Fitchburg State University visiting business professor began his professional life as a baritone in the Romanian National Opera, in his homeland, at 21 years old.
Since then, he has earned degrees in theology and public and international affairs, created non-profit organizations, authored books, edited publications, flown planes, produced movies and worked as an adviser for the Romanian Parliament.
Dr. Simion studied under former U.S. Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and met late former South African President Nelson Mandela. He is also fluent in four languages and can read four others. Most recently, he was named a senior fellow at George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter School of Peace and Conflict.
“I can’t stay still,” he said. “I have too much energy.”
After serving as a research assistant at Harvard University, Dr. Simion began the teaching portion of his career at Boston College as an ethics instructor. He also taught at Hellenic College Holy Cross before coming to teach at Fitchburg State in November 2018.
“I was invited to … teach a course in strategic management that involved practical experience,” he said. “I had been working in higher education management and non-profit management.
“I created four non-profit organizations, so I had the practical aspect. My international experience also helped with strategic management in international settings,” Simion said. “Sometimes, the textbook is limited to the experience of the author. When the professor has his or her own experience outside of that, it enriches the class.”
That experience includes teaching conflict resolution, which led to the opportunity at George Mason University. Dr. Simion is also president and CEO of the Institute for Peace Studies in Eastern Christianity at Harvard University Divinity School.
“I was invited to the senior fellowship a few months ago,” he said. “I have been doing work in religion and violence at Harvard. I had also been doing work for over 15 years in higher education management and worked with accreditation commissions.”
Dr. Simion was born in a mountain village near Călimănești, Romania. He received a scholarship at Hellenic College Holy Cross and became an international student in 1995.
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religious studies and theological studies, respectively, he graduated in 2012 with a Ph.D. in public and international affairs (comparative politics, policy and law) from Northeastern University, where Dukakis was his academic adviser.
“I realized that in order to understand religious conflict, I needed to understand how policymakers make decisions, so I went for the Ph.D.”
Dr. Simion teaches a course titled Strategic Management as part of Fitchburg State’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. He also does program evaluations.
“Students in my course learn the art and science of strategic management,” he said. “We also have the capstone project that we work on. I created a template. We write the paper based on the discussion board, which is an area where I test them on how they apply the knowledge they have received in other courses.
“In the capstone, you need to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the program, the field itself and how you can communicate what you have learned. This involves a significant amount of communication.”
The project consists of students taking on the role of CEO for a new company to help them learn about the psychology of working and communicating with a group.
“People may not understand what you say or have enough time or patience, so how do you get their attention? I do that based on being strict about the size of that component of the paper,” he said. “I want to see something that educates the reader. If you use a technical term, you have to explain it. I want technical knowledge and the ability to communicate.”
Along with two of his colleagues, Dr. Denise Burrill Simion and Mr. Brian Webb, Dr. Simion developed a three-course Business Analytics Management Concentration, which will begin in the 2022-23 school year.
Those courses include “Business Analytics: Quality, Ethics and Law” (Simion); “Applied Data Analytics for Business Decision Making” (Webb) and “Business Analytics Project Management” (Burrill Simion). He also created two special topics courses, “The Building Blocks of Successful Management”; and “Comparative Management: For-Profit, Non-Profit and the Public Sector.”
“I taught conflict resolution, which involves management to a certain extent,” he said. “Public policy also involves management. I have this experience in business and public policy, working with policymakers and establishing these non-profit organizations.”
Even with a full plate, Dr. Simion loves teaching at Fitchburg State. He hopes to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. His wife, Dr. Denise Burrill Simion, is also a business professor at the university.
“It’s very close to my house,” he said. “I don’t have to be on the road for three hours to get there. I work with some wonderful people at Fitchburg State. Dr. Beverley Hollingsworth hired me. I can get any support that I need from her. She’s such a wonderful colleague, manager and boss.
“Also, Dr. Becky Cooper-Glenz, the dean of the graduate school, is another human being who gives me great pleasure to work with; she’s a wonderful colleague. They’re easy to get along with.”
With each passing day, Dr. Simion continues to build on an extraordinary life with immense impact on so many. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“As a visiting professor at FSU, I’ve had some of the most amazing students that a teacher can hope for,” he said. “I had students who were medical doctors, scientists with Ph.D.’s in various disciplines, and so on, but who needed an MBA for various reasons. I enjoy teaching at Fitchburg.”
Learn more about Fitchburg State’s online MBA programs.