Professor Spotlight: Hubert Setzler III

Setzler never planned to use his PhD for teaching, but circumstances allowed him to recognize his passion for it.


Setzler never planned to use his PhD for teaching, but circumstances allowed him to recognize his passion for it.

Tenured professor of business, Hubert Setzler III, did not plan to use his doctorate to teach; however, when fate intervened during his academic endeavors at UNC Charlotte, he discovered his true calling in the front of a classroom.   

“Yes, I was going to be credentialled to do this, but I never had any intention of doing it,” Setzler said.   

A fourth-generation Ph.D., Setzler always knew academia would be a part of his life. Though he took a few years off after his undergraduate studies, he continued his academics afterward at UNC Charlotte for an MBA and doctorate because, according to Setzler, that is just what he was supposed to do.   

“Classes have always come very easily to me,” Setzler said. “Direction usually hasn’t.”  

During his time at UNC Charlotte for his doctorate, one of his professors came to him to beg him to teach some classes. A small faculty reduced by four professors in a matter of weeks led Setzler to take over intro management classes for undergraduate students.   

Before his first semester of teaching, Setzler said he prepared extensively and knew the textbook word for word.   

“When you start out, you kind of have an inferiority complex,” Setzler said. “I felt like I was only a couple of years away from sitting exactly where they were. The second semester was easy because I had all that prep.”   

With his first year of teaching under his belt, Setzler realized he enjoyed teaching.   

“Honestly, I thought, ‘Wow, this is actually not bad,’” he said.   

His revelation sparked his career in teaching, and he moved to Florence a few years later.  

“It was an easy transition because I had people down here,” Setzler said. “At that point, I was done with the city.”  

After working on his doctorate with FMU’s current dean of the School of Business, Hari Rajagopalan, Setzler decided to travel to a new school with a familiar face. He came down with a one-year contract, unsure if he was ready to permanently move from Charlotte, but he quickly changed his mind.   

“[FMU] offered me a tenure-track position after I was here for three weeks,” Setzler said. “After about three and a half weeks, I had decided this was my last job. I liked it that much.”  

Now, with almost two decades of teaching under his belt, Setzler still enjoys the classes he teaches year after year.   

“I’ve never gotten tired of the classes because the students are always different,” Setzler said. “There are going to be different challenges, different questions, some of the same questions, but every time I teach it, I get better.”   

Setzler finds a way to fulfill his passions through his role as a teacher and a mentor for students.   

“I have never gotten up on a morning and thought ‘Ugh, I have to go to work today,’” Setzler said. “I don’t ever get that burnt out from classes because I like the content I’m dealing with. I like the interaction and the show, but I [also] like the relationships I have with students where I can help them beyond the classroom.”   

His passions also extend beyond the classroom and even farther than the coasts of our continent. Setzler’s other calling is gaining once-in-a-lifetime experiences through international travel.   

“I like toys, but like playing on other people’s toys better,” Setzler said. “Not being really jazzed up on material things, I like experiences, and the best experiences I have ever had are from travel.”   

His travel experience stemmed from his earlier years living in Korea for his dad’s job. After being introduced to Asian culture, he went on several trips to Europe in high school but ultimately fell in love with Asia.   

During his few gap years between undergrad and his continued education, he lived in Taiwan and wrote textbooks while recruiting students to study. He continued his international travels after his establishment as a professor.   

“Being able to go see these things that you can see on the internet, you just can’t get the scope or the feel of them just by looking at a picture or going to Vegas,” Setzler said.    

Though COVID-19 temporarily halted his international travels, Setzler is finding his way back across the oceans and has several trips planned for 2022. He plans on traveling to France, Chile, the Easter Islands and India within the year.   

His travel history has also put him in the lead of an ongoing competition with FMU’s former tennis coach, Garth Thomson, to determine who had traveled the most.   

Setzler does not have any aspirations beyond being a professor, but he is open to any roles given to him in the future. He sees his growth as an extension of Rajagopalan’s vision for the business school, which is his own vision now.   

“I don’t want to be the man, but I don’t mind being the man behind the man,” Setzler said.  

Setzler does enjoy his time out from the shadow of “the man,” though, with his various endeavors with school events. Namely, he acts as the announcer for the President’s Bowl and basketball games, participating in additional activities that allow him to branch out of the School of Business and interact with different students and faculty members.