The first time David Eyman came to Miami University, it was as a creativity expert coming to talk to students at the Farmer School of Business (FSB).
Eyman said Miami left him with three first impressions: the school was gorgeous, the students were very high caliber and it was a bad idea to park in the Dean’s lot behind FSB.
When Eyman returned to his car after a successful day of talking to students, he found a parking ticket tucked under the windshield wipers of his grey Honda Element.
“I just smiled and paid it and, you know, figured I deserve it,” Eyman said.
That was five years ago.
Today, Eyman works for FSB full-time as an entrepreneurship business core instructor. The 54-year-old has an intense passion for his students and their futures and helps guide first-years both in and outside the classroom.
Even though Eyman is happily employed at FSB, he had several career paths before finally coming to teach in Oxford.
When Eyman first graduated from college, he taught classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati’s design school. Later, he worked in industrial design where he designed everything from baby products to surgical equipment.
Before coming to Miami, Eyman ran his own “solopreneurship” practice working as a creative consultant for large organizations and municipalities. He said the best kinds of projects he tackled in his various careers were those where his clients had a problem but were completely unsure of what to do.
“That's my favorite,” Eyman said. “When there's abstract and my job is to help kind of make it concrete.”
Despite how much Eyman enjoyed his earlier careers, he always maintained a passion for the classroom. When he was given the opportunity to teach at Miami, Eyman said it felt like a gift.
“It just felt like those moments where everything aligns,” Eyman said.
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Even as a Miami professor, Eyman still has a love for the abstract. He said he recognizes when students first come to college, they are dealing with a brand new environment, and he enjoys helping them make sense of their surroundings and realize their potential.
“Most of the time, I believe in the students more than they do,” Eyman said. “To me, there is no greater opportunity than what I do for a living, because what I do for a living is help people have great lives.”
Julia Feldmann, a first-year marketing major with a co-major in entrepreneurship, said she has already been impacted by Eyman’s love for the job. Feldmann said Eyman’s section of ESP 103, also known as creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, is her favorite class she has taken so far.
“It absolutely will stick with me for the rest of my life,” Feldmann said. “Eyman truly cares about each one of his students and wants to make sure that we succeed and that we are living up to our best potential.”
This spring semester, Feldmann became an undergraduate assistant for Eyman’s ESP 103 class and said it's one of her favorite things she does. Feldmann said even Eyman’s appearance gives people the immediate understanding that they are going to learn something from him.
“He has crazy professor hair,” Feldmann said. “Just by looking [at him], you know he's creative … and that you're going to leave the conversation a different person.”
Eyman said that while he enjoys one-on-one conversations with students, he also believes that they learn just as much from each other as they do from professors.
“The office is a party, and office hours are better when there's a dozen people packed in and the conversation starts to go,” Eyman said. “It's not always stuff about my classes. It's stuff about living and making friends and about understanding how people work and do things and life conversations and those are the best.”
While other professors may have degrees and photos hung up on their office wall, the Assistant Director of FSB’s department of entrepreneurship, Bethany Allen, said that Eyman’s decor is less traditional.
“His office is a menagerie of color. It is posted with thousands of post-it notes all over from floor to ceiling all over the place,” Allen said. “It's this bizarre, overwhelming ... festival for your eyes.”
Eyman said nerf guns, bubble machines and a mini espresso maker can also be found in room 2077 of FSB. When groups of students are talking in his office, Eyman said he often fakes a phone call or pretends to go to the bathroom to give students space to converse.
“I leave the room, and I come back like an hour later, and it's the best teaching method because … we learn better outside of the classroom sometimes,” Eyman said.
In addition to being loved by his students, Allen said Eyman is also well received by his peers.
“My first impression of him is kind of like a warm glass of tea,” Allen said. “He is friendly and warm, extremely welcoming, comforting in a sort of familiar way like you've known him all your life.”
Allen, who has known Eyman for two years, recalled how he once cheered her up when she was having a hard day by showing her a funny app. Allen said that the app allows users to call a phone number, and the person who picks up will be goofy, make sarcastic comments and give you bad advice.
That day, the pair called the number and Allen said that they had such a good time using it that they were rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically.
“I don't foresee David Eyman having an issue making friends,” Allen said. “I think that he is the guy at the party that always has a circle of people around him and everyone's laughing and really enjoying themselves.”
Even after working for Miami for half a decade and developing a deep love for the people who call it home, Eyman’s life is still affected by his first parking ticket. Since that day, Eyman said that whenever he invites someone to campus, he never lets them arrive without helping them park.
“I will meet them on the street, and I will get in their car and take them to the garage and make sure they have a ticket to get out,” Eyman said. “There was a learning in there about customer service.”
Although he loves teaching at Miami, Eyman said he knows there will come a time when it’s right for him to leave. He already has two plans for his future after Miami.
Eyman said for the past few years he has been writing notes for a set of books about creativity and life. He also has a separate idea for a series of paintings. For now, the peppery-haired professor plans to continue teaching.
“Miami believes what I believe, which is that all people are creative, and all people have potential to be rock stars,” Eyman said."You don't find that every day, and when you find it, you just kind of want to be a part of it.”