Campus Life

MIS Inaugural Professor: Don't be a Blobfish

MIS Department Head David Olsen (from left to right) with USU First Gentleman John Cockett, Bob Mills, Dean Doug Anderson and Interim Provost Larry Smith.

Am I a blobfish? Are my students blobfish? These questions came to Robert Mills’ mind as he prepared for the Inaugural Professor Lecture Series, hosted by Utah State University’s President Noelle Cockett, to honor recently promoted professors.

The blobfish is a low-energy fish that floats alone just above the seafloor and relies on ocean currents to move around. When something edible approaches, the blobfish opens its mouth hoping to get a meal while exerting minimal effort. 

Mills, a professor in the Management Information Systems Department in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, noted that a critical aspect of not being a blobfish requires you to “surround yourself with those who see greatness in you,” as stated by author Edmund Lee.

Mills grew up in Great Falls, Montana, where his best friends from high school are now an economics professor at Harvard; a maxillofacial surgeon; and a Princeton graduate who managed $50 billion for the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Blobfish float alone. Surround yourself with greatness.

During his master’s in information systems at USU, he had an opportunity to work with David Merrill to design and develop computer-based training programs for corporate and government organizations. Perhaps the most common phrases Mills heard while working with Merrill were “information is not instruction”, and “too many professors and corporate trainers use the spray and pray techniques,” whereby information is thrown out with the hope some of the content will stick. These simple phrases are a constant reminder that teaching is far more than disseminating information. Blobfish rely on ocean currents to move around. Be thoughtful in your direction.

Mills completed his doctorate in instructional technology in 2000 and joined the faculty in the MIS Department where he is a two-time Huntsman School of Business Teacher of the Year award recipient. With an academic background at the nexus of management information systems and instructional technology, his primary research areas focus on MIS Education in the areas of database administration, model curriculum, enrollments and instructional design. Mills has published 30 journal articles that have been cited 300 times. Blobfish open its mouth when something edible approaches. Don’t hope something good will happen while exerting minimal effort.

Mills was promoted to full professor in April 2017. He and his wife, Kimberly, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and enjoy spending time with their two children, Megan (21) and Madison (17).

Researcher Contact: Robert Mills, Professor in the Management Information Systems Department in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University,, 435.797.7480.

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