Professor takes message beyond university


Whether called “Bob,” “Dr. Shoop,” or simply “Shoop,” Robert Shoop is a man of many hats and happenstance.

“He’s a jack of all trades. He teaches ethics; he works with law; he’s an educator; he’s a sports fan,” said Trisha Gott, instructor in leadership studies.

Shoop is the director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership and a leading expert in sexual harassment prevention, an area in which he serves as a consultant to schools, universities and corporations. He has also served as an expert forensic witness in more than 60 court cases stemming from this content area.

Ask Shoop about his research and he will, more than likely, say it is twofold — helping people and stopping a preventable problem. His research has gained national attention from NPR, “The Today Show” and CNN, all of which have featured Shoop as a guest.

“The university has a duty, particularly as a land-grant university, to create knowledge that serves to help society become a better place, and I think the university, by supporting faculty members to do this, is a way we can serve the larger community,” Shoop said. “The exposure and opportunity to have impact is huge — one to three minutes on a national morning show, probably, I had more impact than all 19 books put together in terms of the number of people who are actually going to think about that subject.”

Shoop is also the author or co-author of 19 books, including the introductory book for the School of Leadership Studies and one on leadership lessons from K-State football head coach Bill Snyder.

“He has a passion for the university and in particular the leadership studies program,” Snyder said. “He, along with Susan Scott, were so instrumental and had such great perseverance to carry that program from where it was to where it is right now, and that’s kind of been his existence here I think as much as anything has been truly focused on it and the end result speaks for itself.”

Snyder said Shoop has presented to the players and program in a variety of different ways for years.

Shoop said he was an athlete in college at Wittenberg University, where he played on the national championship football team. He also said he occasionally wears his championship ring.

“It reminds me of how difficult it is to be an athlete and be a student at the same time,” Shoop said.

Shoop also said he was not interested in scholarly work until coming to college, where he discovered a passion through the nurturing of his professors.

As the co-founder of the School of Leadership Studies, Shoop said he enjoys watching how the school has changed over time.

“Our initial thought was we’ll teach one course and see how it goes and if anybody shows up,” Shoop said. “We weren’t sure we’d have enough people to offer one course, and it gradually grew so that now we have about 1,500 people in the minor, and this beautiful building was opened and paid for the day it was opened with private money. It’s now an opportunity for every student at Kansas State to take either a couple courses or the whole minor.”

Shoop, along with Susan Scott, senior adviser in the school and its first director, said it started with 12 students in the program.

He currently advises doctoral students and teaches ethics and educational law classes on both the graduate and undergraduate level. Having worked in all levels of education, Shoop said he prefers to work on college campuses, especially with undergraduates. He said he enjoys helping students discover what their values are and how those values are reflected in their daily life when they make decisions.

“Bob has a wonderful relationship with his students,” said Mary Hale Tolar, director of the School of Leadership Studies. “He pushes them to think critically, to explore their values and assumptions about what it means to make ethical decisions. He is able to engage the entire class in difficult discussions about deeply held beliefs, and how those are reflected when applied to acts of leadership, because students know he truly cares and will not judge.”

Shoop said he believes in intentionality, which has led him not only to be a successful researcher, but a practical teacher.

“I enjoy writing, I enjoy researching, I believe that a professor — when they talk about research, teaching and service — these are not three discrete entities,” he said. “I think they have to be integrated so that your service should reflect back on a university in positive light, but that you learn something from those experience that you bring back into the classroom to help students.”

Jared Brown, junior in marketing, is currently taking Shoop’s dimensions of ethical leadership class and said he enjoys the insight Shoop provides.

“He truly cares about us as students and really wants us to be successful in everything we do at K-State, as well as after K-State, when we get out into the ‘real world,'” Brown said.

Gott said Shoop has been her teacher and adviser and now is a colleague.

“I get to see a lot of different versions, but he’s truly an authentic person,” Gott said. “The Dr. Shoop I’ve seen, in all aspects his focus has always been on developing people and developing people to be thoughtful. Dr. Shoop is mischievous and always up to something, but fun and cares a ton about the work he does and the people he works with.”