Human Resources > Faculty and Staff Spotlight
Jim is the youngest of four siblings. They were also the first four in his family to go to college. During his undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Jim focused on finance and accounting. Although he was drawn to the numbers side of business, he was naturally creative. Jim used to joke that creativity was generally frowned upon in accounting.
He needed to make a change and shifted his focus to marketing. It was a perfect fit. “I found my home because it was a place where I could have a business mindset and be a numbers person, but also do creative ad campaign development.”
After college he worked in marketing in St. Louis. He then spent two years working as a consultant and doing management marketing in Los Angeles. Jim returned to the Midwest, got his PhD from the University of Michigan, and accepted his position with DePaul in 2013.
Jim has also written two books based on his unique marketing perspective.
I have a lot of students who come into marketing and want to pursue purely creative ad campaigns. You grow up watching fun commercials, and that’s great.
Of course, now everything is digital. We have so much data. There’s more of an expectation that everything you do should be backed by numbers. By doing research on consumer behavior, we can analyze different audiences and understand them—not just on a demographic level, but also on a deeper psychological level—to determine what their preferences and needs are. That data should inform the creative campaign that we develop.
One of the reasons why I came here was the mission of this university. At the end of my interviewing process, it came down to DePaul and two other well-known, highly-respected universities. Throughout my interviews, I knew I wanted to teach first-generation students.
I enjoy working with college students and knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives. I also enjoy being around faculty who also share that mission. That’s something very beneficial here. We have such a diverse group of students, both economically and culturally. I love that.
DePaul is very good at taking students in who grow dramatically from acceptance to graduation. Even in our mission statement we put teaching before research. That’s not to say research isn’t still important, but my colleagues share my belief that teaching really matters. What are we doing for students? I feel like that is the central question here and not just for our students, but also for our society.
Being in Chicago is great too. I grew up doing performing arts, and I’m on stage at Second City now.
One of my favorite things about the Vincentian mission is that you are encouraged to provide new opportunities for students here. Let me give you a couple of examples:
I have been teaching consumer behavior since I started here, but I was also encouraged to teach a Discover Chicago class. I teach one with an improv theme that goes well with my theater background. I teach students the improv tenets. They see shows. They can go do workshops. As far as I know, we’re the only experience in the city where you can go to Second City, Improv Olympics, The Annoyance Theater and Comedy Sportz in one week, do workshops and see shows at all of them. I have never heard of that being done anywhere before.
In that sense, we’ve got a one-of-a-kind program here, encouraging incoming freshmen to get off campus and see what’s out there and learn about this great city through a different lens. In this case, it’s improv.
The second example is the fantastic short-term study abroad programs here. Of course, we also have semester and year-long trips like other universities, but we have these short-term spring break trips and winter intercession trips. The shorter timeframe makes these exciting trips much more affordable, and it’s more likely that students can go and learn something totally new.
When I was young, my family didn’t get to travel internationally, and now I get to teach my students in Paris. We visit companies and talk to them about their business models and marketing strategies. For many, this is the very first time they have ever traveled abroad. This is an affordable opportunity for them to broaden their horizons and learn about a different culture and people. So I feel like it’s an important part of my teaching responsibilities here at DePaul to help provide this program. You don’t normally see these opportunities just popping up in society for these students.