Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in The Messenger’s annual Hometown Pride publication on June 24, 2022, which features people and organizations in and around Fort Dodge making a difference in their communities.
Early in his career at Iowa Central Community College, David Barwin was appointed to a dean’s office.
He taught, among other things, a class called “The College Experience” and the then dean wanted to know exactly what Barwin was teaching in those classes.
“I am here in my first year and will be appointed to the dean’s office. It felt like I was being sent to the principal’s office. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was just following the curriculum. He says, “No, what are you doing?”
“He asked me again and I was a little frustrated. He said, “Let me go back. We never get good reviews of these courses and yours are great. The students loved the lessons. So he asked again, ‘What are you doing?’”
This encounter led Barwin to a faculty position and he is now director of programs for the Iowa Central Business Department. Now, 19 years into his career, he’s still as passionate about working with students as ever.
“Having a job where I can make such an impact on student life and get them to figure out what they want to do and get them excited makes me really happy to be a part of their success.” said Barvin.
Barwin and others in the department decided a few years ago to change their mindset with the program’s students. Instead of cramming all of the general education courses into the first year, they decided to immerse students in the business courses so they learn early on what it takes to be successful in the future.
Barwin attended a conference focused on the experiences of freshmen in college, where he and others learned that many students were put off early on by a large amount of general education courses and benefited from more courses focusing on their major.
“They said we’re doing them a disservice by putting them in all this math and too much gene class in their freshman year. For example, they said that if a student isn’t sure which business area to focus on, they struggle with statistics, accounting, or economics because they don’t see how that fits into what they’re doing in business would like.” said Barvin. “So I brought that back to our advisory board and said, let’s create a program where a student can come in and just take one or two generic courses and maybe a computer course, and then we’ll give them all the business courses right up front: Marketing, management, introduction to business. Let’s give them these in advance, and they can take the more challenging classes in their sophomore year knowing they have the confidence to be a good college student. It doesn’t matter if you’re an A-Plus student or a struggling student. If you get those classes early on, you’ll understand how the others fit into the path you’re taking.”
The new structure has now been in place for three years. Barwin said best of all, the program can prepare students for entry into the business world after earning an associate of applied science degree in business at Iowa Central, or they can progress to a four-year degree program.
He said it’s about a 60-40 split of students choosing to embark on a four-year program. He said it’s actually so inclined because some students only come up with a two-year plan in mind, but they discover they have the ability to continue their education.
“As a newbie, I was prepared for anything, but it exceeded my expectations,” said Noah Susong, a third-year student from Waterloo. “What I really like about the business program is that Mr. Barwin gives us a feel for the business world. When you’re in his classes, you don’t just feel like you’re there to be there; He does a great job of bringing the entire class together and making it comfortable to share ideas with each other and work together in small groups and a larger group.
“Mr. Barwin does a great job of putting things in perspective. He tells you the truth about the business world and is very transparent about what to expect and how to get through it.
Barwin currently teaches Marketing Management, Introduction to Business, Business Ethics, Workplace Communication, Introduction to Sales, Distribution Management and Social Media Marketing.
However, Barwin admitted that he has a strong team of other associates, and the college has really helped the Business Department grow as a program.
“The university is constantly adapting to the changing times. As we’ve learned, staying current is important. I know the support of Dr. Definitely appreciates Ulrich (President of Iowa Central) and everyone in the college and in my department. It’s definitely not a one-man job.”
Outside of class, Barwin has been a coach at both Iowa Central and St. Edmond. He coached track and field at Iowa Central and golf. He also coached basketball at St Edmond. Today he spends most of his free time with his three children.
Barwin is originally from McDowell, Pennsylvania. Before coming here, he was a coach at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania. He initially taught Entrepreneur classes along with the College Experience class in Iowa Central.
While at Iowa Central, he received the Teaching Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. He has served as Chairman of the “Organization Strategic Plan” and Co-Chair of the Strategic Enrollment Committee.
Additionally, Barwin is a private business consultant running Incognito Consulting for local small business owners.