Influencing Change

PROVO, Utah – Jul 19, 2019 –

While studying as an undergraduate at Washington State University, BYU Marriott's Taeya Howell enrolled in a study abroad program in France. It was on that program when Howell first discovered an interest which grew into the focus of her research as a professor—influencing change. 

Howell recalls observing how often the students in France held walkouts and protests in an effort to bring about change in the education system. “Seeing that sparked a question,” Howell says. “How do you actually speak up and bring about change in an effective way?” 

Howell’s path toward answering this question has taken a unique route that began as an attorney. After graduating from Washington State University in 2000, Howell would later graduate from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU in 2003 and found work in contract negotiations. “A big part of contract negotiations is getting someone else to change their position to your benefit,” Howell comments. “That fit in perfectly with my interest in influencing change.” After six years, however, Howell felt the need to return to school for a PhD. 

“I was interested in the research part of getting a PhD and knew that I needed to have a research area, so I looked into where research on negotiations took place,” Howell says of the time she decided to return to school. Howell found that much of the research on negotiations was happening in business schools, so a doctor of philosophy in management seemed like the right fit. 

Since earning a PhD from the University of Texas in 2014, Howell’s research has covered various topics from influencing change to more recently evaluating newcomers in the National Football League. This most recent research, which looks at what kind of an impact the label of being a top draft pick has on players, is currently still in the development stage. 

Now an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at BYU Marriott, Howell is happy she decided to come back to BYU. Along with her research interests, Howell loves opportunities to teach students and work closely with colleagues. “We create an environment where we want to work with each other, ask each other questions, and help each other,” Howell says. One such setting is in a course Howell teaches for HR track students in the MBA program—a class she has enjoyed teaching at BYU Marriott. 

As Howell nears the completion of her third year at BYU Marriott, she notes one thing that still stands out to her about BYU—the level of concern the school’s faculty has for each student. “Faculty at BYU show more concern for students than faculty members from other institutions I’ve been at.” Howell adds that student needs are a common topic of conversation at department meetings as faculty members discuss how to prepare students for jobs and how to support them after they leave BYU. “We are focused on the whole person and helping people develop and gain knowledge they can use throughout their entire lives,” she says. 

Howell further appreciates the fact that she can “bring her whole self to work” each day as an employee of BYU. “At other institutions, you can’t bring everything about yourself into the classroom,” she explains. “You can’t talk about what happened in general conference or your experiences as an auxiliary leader, but I am happy that I can do that here at BYU.” 

Taeya Howell
Taeya Howell

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Paul Swenson