It’s safe to say that Michael Bixby can check that box off of his to-do list.
Bixby, a professor emeritus at Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics, estimates that he has taught more than 14,000 students during his 35-plus years at the university.
“It’s kind of fun when I see somebody downtown and they’ll walk up to me and say, ‘Aren’t you Professor Bixby? I had your class 10 years ago, and I’ve used some of that knowledge and I’ve stayed out of a couple of legal scrapes because of something I learned in your course.’
“That’s kind of neat,” Bixby says.
And the number of students he has reached continues to grow. Bixby retired as a full-time faculty member in 2012, but he continues to answer the call when asked to teach. He has taught at least twice a year in the Executive MBA program and has also been involved as Boise State launched an online MBA program a few years ago.
“I’m retired, but my wife says I’m failing retirement,” Bixby says. “I keep getting involved in various classes at BSU and other things. … I like it. I enjoy teaching and it keeps my brain moving a little bit. So, I’ll probably do that for a few more years, I guess.”
Regardless of how long Bixby continues to teach, his influence has already been established.
In 2006, he was selected as the recipient of the Boise State University Foundation Scholars Award for teaching, the highest award given at Boise State – only one faculty member is chosen each year for the award.
In 2012, Bixby was honored with the Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the national Academy of Legal Studies in Business. The national award is only given every few years and the selection is by peer professors across the country.
Awards like these cement the fact that Bixby chose the right career path by going into teaching – even if that meant leaving some money on the table.
“I think I could have made a lot more money being a big-time lawyer,” he says. “I tell people you don’t go into this to get rich. … Doing what you like is really important. I gave that advice to a lot of students over the years. They would ask: ‘What classes should I take?’ And I would say: Take classes you are interested in.”
It was perhaps this same guiding principle that led Bixby and his wife, Sharon, on a life-changing adventure years ago.
“My wife and I had been married for two weeks when we joined the Peace Corps,” he says. “So we went to Jamaica and we worked with people that had a lot less than we did and had a different color skin than we did. Certainly, that was a very positive experience.”
An experience that, in part, showed Bixby the importance of human rights. It’s not surprising to learn that he and his wife serve as volunteer docents at the Anne Frank Memorial.
“We still value human rights,” he says. “And it’s kind of fun to give back a little. When you hear somebody talking about bigotry and discrimination, some of us need to stand up and say something rather than just smiling and walking away. That’s one of the messages we try to get through on this tour.”
Yes, it’s clear Bixby is failing at retirement. But he’s earning a little extra credit on the side: He says he enjoys golfing and travelling.
He also relishes the time he gets to spend with his grandchildren.
“Being a grandparent is a really good gig,” he says. “I really like that a lot.”
To view photos from the 2016 Leaders in Law networking reception and awards event Nov. 17, 2016, visit http://www.idahobusinessreview.smugmug.com/.