Leading from Experience - An Interview with Professor Dr. Willy Kotiuga

For BGU, the classroom is out, learning is in. No single lecturer can connect with the many cultures in BGU, so faculty facilitate learning environments using guest lecturers, peer-learning, immersions, disruption, mentoring, practical application, and other methods to create a truly cross-cultural, learning experience. That is teaching at BGU.

Interviewer: What is your academic background?

Willy: I am a lifelong learner and the only professor teaching at BGU that has two terminal degrees at opposite ends of the spectrum of disciplines. Thirty-seven years after graduating with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, I returned to school to complete a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction Writing. With over forty years of experience advising governments, planning infrastructure projects, and transforming both large and small organizations, I chose to gift my experience to the next generation.

Interviewer: What course do you teach?

Willy: At BGU, I teach the Ph.D. course Metrics of Innovation. Students in the class learn how to be instruments of transformation in their spheres of influence. But more than that, they learn to create sustainable, resilient, and scalable impacts. There are no preset templates – each project is innovative and unique. They also discover the power of combining spiritual formation and strategic discernment to become agents of transformation.

Interviewer: What is your teaching style?

Willy: Organizations talk about the importance of knowledge transfer, but knowledge alone does not provide the skills needed to build sustainable transformation. The internet is flooded with knowledge but does not provide understanding, discernment, or wisdom. Experience does! God has blessed me with rich and diverse experiences from over 25 countries. Each course I teach is curated, facilitated, and customized to the needs of the students registered in the class.

Interviewer: What motivates you to teach?

Willy: I teach because I can use my experience to walk alongside each student and build upon my lifelong goal of equipping the next generation. Although I teach, I learn so much from each student as we create community while learning from each other. We build relationships that continue after the last assignment is graded.

Interviewer: What is unique in the way you teach?

Willy: My engineering background taught me to create systematic approaches to support innovative projects. My MFA has taught me how to share my vision clearly with a human touch. My church roots and faith in God provided a spiritual depth to my perception of life. God has blended my skills to help others learn beyond what they thought they could achieve. And all this with no mathematical formulae or sophisticated recipes.

Interviewer: What brings joy to your heart?

Willy: There is nothing like seeing discovery in students' eyes as they cross the chasm separating theory from reality. It's a reality that transforms their world and the world around them.

Dr. Willy Kotiuga is Chair of the BGU Board of Regents and an adjunct professor in the BGU Ph.D. Innovative

Urban Leadership program.