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Incoming Professor Jonathan Jensen Aspires to Live a Double Life

March 30, 2015
A conversation about what shaped a new faculty member’s goals

As a Notre Dame graduate, Jonathan Jensen wasn’t sure if he wanted to write about sports or work in sports. He had served as a student manager of the football and basketball programs, been associate sports editor of the student newspaper, and took three marketing classes. He chose what he calls “an active role in the industry” because of his longtime desire to be like Indiana Jones. Jensen, who joins the sport management faculty in fall 2015, talks about fulfilling that dream.

Why Indiana Jones?

“I loved Indiana Jones. What fascinated me about him is how one day he’s in the classroom lecturing about archaeology, and the next day he’s getting on a plane and flying to Asia to participate in an archaeological dig and getting into all sorts of trouble. When I was young, I marveled at being able to lead that type of double life, but thought people like that only existed in the movies. Then I met (professors) Bill Sutton and Jay Gladden. I wanted to be just like them, and they were instrumental in my career choices.”

After more than 15 years in sports marketing for agencies like Omnicom and Publicis Groupe, and in professional sports – he was media relations and marketing communications manager for three years for baseball’s Florida Marlins and had an internship with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins – Jensen switched to academia. He is completing his dissertation at The Ohio State University, where he taught a Sport Marketing and Promotion course.

What attracted you to becoming a professor?

“Now that I have earned a Ph.D. and started publishing my own research to assist brand marketers in sports marketing decision-making, I really enjoy the diversity of being able to have a conference call with a client in the morning, give a lecture and work with students in the afternoon, and work on academic research in the evening. I enjoy the various aspects of being a professor and how every day is different.

“It all works together. In the classroom, I enjoy providing students with opportunities to work on projects they will encounter in the industry and helping them achieve their goals, while the continued link to the industry helps generate research ideas and potential projects that can be shared in the classroom.”

He is principal at Jensen Strategic Consulting, providing sponsorship and strategic marketing consulting services to corporate clients.  His services have included sponsorship evaluation and research and athlete negotiations. His coauthored academic journal articles have ranged from the return on investment in sponsorship of Formula One racing to the popularity of college football bowl subdivision coaches on social media.

So how do you apply these life experiences in the classroom?

“I think we as professors have an obligation to provide students with opportunities to engage in group projects and experiences that will prepare them for what they will encounter in the real world. To me, the college experience is not just about getting a job; it’s about being prepared to excel in the opportunities you receive, so you can have a long and impactful career in an industry you want to be in.” 

You’re from the Chicago area. What appeals to you about Merrimack College?

“Having spent some time in Boston (I interned for the Red Sox while in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), it reminds me a lot of Chicago. They both get a lot of snow and have an intense rivalry with New York. In Merrimack I see a lot of Notre Dame, a small, tight-knit school with a passion for sports and an emphasis on teaching.” 


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  • Incoming Professor Jonathan Jensen (left) with Aaron Rodgers at Kurt Warner's Ultimate Football Experience celebrity flag ...
    Incoming Professor Jonathan Jensen (left) with Aaron Rodgers at Kurt Warner's Ultimate Football Experience celebrity flag football tournament

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