Many people search a lifetime for their dream career. For Don Warrick, his dream career began 50 years ago on January 1, 1971 at a small, modest campus in Colorado Springs.
Warrick’s path to UCCS started from humble beginnings in Alva, Oklahoma, where he earned a track scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma.
“After I went home my first semester of college, I had a 1.7 GPA and I almost lost my scholarship,” Warrick recalled. “I didn’t know what the future would hold, but I decided to go back and just give it my all. In retrospect, this was probably the best thing that happened to me.”
With a renewed spirit for education, Warrick went on to earn a bachelor’s and MBA from the University of Oklahoma and later a DBA from the University of Southern California – all the while pursuing a successful career as an Officer in the Air Force and manager of several companies, including manager of management development at Hughes Aircraft.
Soon after receiving his doctorate from the University of Southern California, Warrick headed east for a job opportunity at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I interviewed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, but then they told me about this new startup campus located in Colorado Springs,” Warrick recalled. “They said, you may want to check it out because there’s opportunities to develop new programs.”
Warrick took a leap of faith and decided to join UCCS as an Assistant Professor of Management in 1971, just as Dwire Hall was in the final stages of construction.
“There was almost nothing here at UCCS,” said Warrick. “On my very first day, I was greeted by the person in charge of building Dwire Hall and he said, ‘Today we have to submit the drawings for this building and I was told that you would be able to build a behavioral lab if you came here. We have about two hours – can you sit down and do that?’”
“So, I sat down in a room and I sketched it out – it had our first tiered classroom and behavioral labs. I handed the sketch to him and then they built it verbatim. Amazingly enough, it ended up winning several awards because not many people had behavioral labs in a College of Business.”
Warrick played an integral role in the development of the College of Business undergraduate and graduate programs. Alongside a handful of faculty, Warrick created curriculum centered around his fields of study in leadership and organization development and change. These courses were some of the very first of their kind in higher education.
“For a new professor who knows nothing to get to start out developing curriculum in my field of organization development and change was incredible,” Warrick said. “In fact, I’m still teaching some of those foundational courses that I started almost 50 years ago.”
Warrick specializes in developing and coaching leaders, developing high performance teams and organizations and managing organization development, change and transformation. He has published nine books and more than 90 articles, book chapters and professional papers within his discipline. Warrick has worked with more than 200 Fortune 500 and international companies, mid-sized and small organizations, government agencies and religious organizations. He also serves as president of the Warrick Agency Training and Development Company.
Warrick has been celebrated with the highest recognitions in his field, including a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Organization Development Network Association and the Distinguished Educator Award from the Academy of Management. He has also been named Outstanding Organization Development Practitioner of the Year, Outstanding Human Resources Professional of the Year, Best Professor in Organizational Development and the David Bradford/McGraw-Hill Educator of the Year.
Yet Warrick still considers his greatest accomplishment to be the success of his students.
“Over the years, I’ve just developed such a love for students where I just really consider it an honor to be in the classroom where I can influence lives,” said Dr. Warrick. “It’s been a huge blessing to spend a whole career educating people on how they can personally and professionally succeed.”
Dr. Warrick is quick to point out that his success is credited to his wife Anna, who has been involved in everything that he does.
“I’m very thankful that God has allowed me to have the life that I’ve had. If I’ve been successful, my faith and Anna would literally be the key. We are partners through and through. She’s intimately involved in all of this.
“I’m also very grateful to be surrounded by such exceptional colleagues.”
He hopes his passion for teaching, leadership and cultural development leave a lasting impact on the university.
“I hope that I can have at least a small, positive impact on the lives of students as well as faculty, staff and administrators, and that I will have opportunities to encourage skilled leadership and help build a positive and vital culture in the College of Business and UCCS. I also hope to keep excellent teaching as one of our hallmarks that we are best known for at UCCS.”
To help Dr. Warrick realize his goal, the College of Business aims to develop a faculty award in his honor. This award will be charged with furthering three of Dr. Warrick’s signature efforts:
- Developing skilled leaders and promoting excellence in leadership, teaching and culture.
- Developing an exciting culture to work in.
- Developing faculty who are committed to teaching excellence.
“The responsibilities are to promote excellence in leadership, culture and teaching,” said Dr. Warrick. Then, even if I’m not around, someone would be championing those causes. That’s my goal.”
“Don Warrick has been an integral part of the UCCS community and culture for the past 50 years,” said Karen Markel, dean of the College of Business. “We thank him for his years of service and contributions to student success, academic excellence and community development. The Warrick Endowment is a wonderful way to commemorate his achievements and ensure that his impact on UCCS endures well beyond the 50-year mark.”
The Warrick Endowment for Excellence in Leadership, Teaching and Culture is fueled by alumni and community philanthropy and will be part of a full-year celebration to honor Dr. Warrick’s legacy at UCCS. To contribute to the Warrick Endowment, to leave a congratulatory message for Dr. Warrick or to join an upcoming Warrick Webinar, please visit https://business.uccs.edu/warrick50.