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PERSONAL

M Louise Ripley, MBA, PhD.
Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar

York University
Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies


(Retired from York July 1, 2015)

 


Louise at Desk with Harp
(photo by Bert Christensen)
We were born on Christmas Day, 1946 (making us early Baby Boomers), in New York City, New York, U.S.A., twin daughters of Stephen Ripley, an American newspaperman and labour union organizer, and Kathryn Jane Smith Ripley, a Canadian foreign service officer and editor. A brother Stephen Jr. came four years later. I am now a Canadian citizen. Louise and Jane at wedding

My mother, a Scottish-English-Canadian, spent her early married years as a classic 1950's work-at-home mom. After my father died at the too-young age of 57, she worked as a teacher, and then an editor for the U.S. National Education Association to support three children. From my mother I learned the fierce determination that enabled me to complete my Masters and Doctoral degrees while working full time and raising a family. She recently turned 100 years old! She retired from her volunteer jobs at the Corcoran and Kreeger Art Galleries in Washington D.C. at the age of 92. At the age of 91, she learned email so she could correspond more with me.

My father, an American of Irish descent, raised his twin daughters to believe they could do anything they wanted if they worked hard enough. He never had the chance to go to university but was far better read than anyone I have ever met, having read on his own all of Shakespeare, and all of The World's 100 Greatest Books, including the twelve volumes of The Golden Hind and T.H. Lawrence's The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  My early memories of him include his being woken at 3:00 a.m. to take a long distance telephone call from a union colleague in the midst of negotiations somewhere across the country, rattling off the full details of some hugely complicated recent settlement they needed to know, and falling instantly back to sleep (when we were teens, our parents, bless them, allowed us to have the bedroom area phone in our room, and my memory is of him standing in the doorway, talking encouraging talk to striking workers). My memories of him also include a soft-spoken gentle man who fought like a tiger for the rights of the downtrodden, and who possessed a devilish wit and a love of language (it comes with Irish heritage). My gifts from him include my love of learning, my sense of ethics and fair play, my Union heart, my love of crossword puzzles, and an ability to sleep anywhere any time.
One of my father's good friends was the man who took this picture. Below it reads, "To my good friend through cheers and tears, Steve Ripley". From Joe Rosenthal. The Flag at Iwo Jima

When I was 10, we moved to Virginia, where I experienced great difficulty fitting in as a Southern Belle but did pick up some of their techniques, and developed what became a life-long love of reading about the American Civil War. I have written a novel that takes place during that time (I wrote it out of the passions and emotions of the 1997 York faculty/librarians strike). My New York agent (I love saying that!) tried for six long years to find it a home, but apparently no one wants to publish a story with a gay Southern cavalry hero. I am contemplating self-publishing in retirement.

This picture of Civil War pickets in Virginia was painted in 1862 by Bierstadt.

There is an excerpt from my novel as used in my speech to the Atkinson Alum Association in 1997 after receiving their Teaching Excellence Award for 1996:  "Radicalization and Renewal."  The hero of my novel, a Southern boy who rode with J.E.B. Stuart, owned no slaves and abhorred slavery.
And here's me on the Civil War battlefields in Manassas, Virginia, a twenty minute drive from the Virginia town where I grew up after the age of ten. 

I remained an ardent civil rights supporter even growing up in the South; marched, with my twin sister, with my father's union (AFL-CIO) in the 1963 civil rights march in Washington at the age of 16 and stood on the Washington Memorial grounds to hear Martin Luther King deliver his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. When my sister and I were 13, a kid in our neighbourhood, knowing that we were supporters of the American Civil Rights Movement, burned our house down. I take this stuff seriously.

Louise, sister, and brother with Eleanor Roosevelt 1955 When we lived in New Jersey, my mom was President of the Parent Teacher Association when Eleanor Roosevelt came to speak at a gathering about ending racism. She came to dinner at our home in Teaneck New Jersey, and here is a picture of my sister, brother, and me sitting with her (I am on her right; on the left as you look at the picture). We were nine years old. 

While my father was carving the roast (THE special dinner of those days), Mrs. Roosevelt offered to pass the green beans and mashed potatoes. She knew, she said, that Franklin always disliked it when he had to both carve and serve.

 

I did my undergraduate work at Shimer College, a small liberal-arts college in the midwest United States, graduated 1968. Visit their web site to see more about the place that shaped my academic career and my understanding of education. It's part of why I am a Professor both in Business and Women's Studies. As a York student, you may have to stretch your imagination to conceptualize what I mean by "small classes." When my sister and I attended Shimer in the 1960s, there were 183 students, classes were never larger than 12, and there were 70 students in our graduating class. The college now has an enrolment of 120 students; classes are still never more than 12, and the Dean knows every student by name and face. The curriculum is based in "The Great Books", reading only from original sources (our bookstore bills were horrendous). The emphasis is entirely on academics; Shimer was listed in publicity brochures as having the 4,713th largest football team in America. We once put out a publicity brochure claiming to have lost the most number of basketball games in a row, but a college in Mississippi wrote to say that we hadn't done it fairly because we had also played high schools! In a recent study, Shimer came in third after MIT and UCLA Berkeley in the percentage of students who go on to complete doctoral degrees. 
This is a Shimer classroom on the right. See the silver-haired man on the left? That's Shimer's former President, Father Don Moon, an Anglican priest and nuclear physicist. He taught his first course at Shimer when I was there and he was one of my professors. After leading the small group of professors who saved Shimer in the 1970s when it went bankrupt and had to sell the Mount Carroll campus and move to Waukegan, he spent more than twenty years as Shimer's President, rebuilding the school. He recently retired as President, but still teaches, and like all Shimer professors, he sits at the round discussion table with everyone else. There are no lecture halls at Shimer and there is no "head" of the table; all are enquiring scholars.

 

In 2005, Shimer moved again to new quarters within the Illinois Institute of Technology, calling itself "The Great Books College of Chicago". The move was for financial reasons and it seems to have worked; things are going well at Shimer again. Click here to read my Recruiting Letter for Shimer. In the 1990s, I served on the Board of Trustees for Shimer, providing needed expertise in marketing as they prepared to renew their accreditation.

One of my students, Wangeci Warui, fed up with York's huge classes (80 students in fourth year seminars at that time) asked me if I knew any schools that had small classes. I directed her to my web site to read about Shimer. She applied, was accepted, and went there on a full scholarship. In May of 2004, I went to Shimer to see her graduate, along with my sister and my mother. She called us her "aunties". She studied law at the Sorbonne and learned French, and after working in Health and Safety in the diamond mines of Alberta for several years, is now acting with the CBC, in Newfoundland. She still hopes to go to law school. Shimer graduates tend to have eclectic tastes and it has carried into my professional university teaching career, at York - where I teach Marketing, Gender Issues, and Environmental Studies, and write about Advertising Ethics, Marketing to Women, Teaching with Technology, and Cybernetics.

In November of 2004, the New York Times wrote a great article about this fantastic little liberal arts school.

I earned my MBA at the Loyola University of Chicago, at what is now the Quinlan School of Business. I graduated in 1978, with a major in Finance. This took me five years of part-time study while working full time in the financial district in downtown Chicago. I had a number of good professors, but two stand out particularly: Dr. Mary Hamilton, who was the only female professor in my entire programme and who taught me Finance, and Father Thomas McMahon, who taught me Business and Social Responsibility and who is responsible for my strong interests today in business ethics and issues of the environment and women's rights. And yes, I've expressed my gratitude to each of them.
I earned my PhD at the University of Toronto in 1989, at what is now the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, major in Marketing and  minor in Finance. It took me 8 years to complete, and I did it while working full time at York. It is to the credit of Atkinson College and my understanding students and colleagues, and my supportive husband and forgiving young son that I was able to do it, because U of T offered no part-time doctoral programmes at the time. 
U of T was not the warmest most welcoming institution I've known, but individual professors made a difference.  Notable among them - Professor Myron J. Gordon, the "Gordon" of the Gordon Dividend Model, for those who have studied Finance (at York: AK/ADMS3530), on account of whom I went to U of T in the first place (I'm not a supporter of the Modigliani and Miller Theory) was tremendously supportive. Professor Shizuhiko Nishisato is cited in the Acknowledgements section of my doctoral thesis for giving me back my love of learning in, of all places, a Factor Analysis class. Professor Dan Greeno in addition to bringing me up to speed in Marketing after I changed majors also taught me the importance of looking out for myself.  Professor Hugh Arnold was one of the kindest professors I met at U of T while remaining one who taught his subject - Research Methodology, in a such a dynamic and exciting way that it has stayed with me all these years. Professor Larry Ring, whose wonderful explanation of the evolution of the sales person I appropriated for my Introductory Marketing lecture and then the webpage on Promotion - I took his class at 8:00 in the morning after teaching from 7:00 to 10:00 the two previous nights and without his wicked sense of humour I'd perhaps never have found it worthwhile to make that early morning trek downtown. I also read every single case study for his Advertising class and wrote my summaries because the man told us at the start of the course that he would collect three summaries at random from each of us, and then never collected anything, thereby ensuring we prepared for every class. And my thesis supervisor, George Day, described below. Good teachers, all of them. I don't know that in my harried years there I really had a chance to say a proper "thank you" so maybe they will read it here. 
My thesis, a copy of which is in the York Library, was on Channels of Distributions, for which I had a superb thesis supervisor, Professor George Day, now at Wharton School of Business. I always figured I probably ended up studying distribution because I'm nuts about cars, tractors, trucks, planes, trains, machinery... anything that moves. On the left below is me with my beloved 1980 MGB; next is me on the John Deere tractor I learned to drive on my sabbatical in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1992, next on the right is me in "my truck" although it's really Bernie's, the one who taught me to back up in a cornfield, in April of 1994, and in so doing, taught me a great lesson about my own profession - teaching.  On the far right is my current beloved little red car, a Mazda MX5, also known as the Miata. His name is Beauregard.  
  Mazda Miata MX5

 

My childhood hero was Charles Lindbergh  
 

 

who, in 1927 flew the first trans-Atlantic flight in this: 
 

The actual plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, now hangs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., where I visited it many times with my family, growing up, and still go to see it when I'm visiting in Washington. A tiny model of it hung in the plant in my office all the years I taught at York.

 

 My Latest Hero:

"Not in My House"
Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms
House of Parliament
October 22, 2014

Sgt. Vickers took down the coward who shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in the back as he stood unarmed guarding the National War Monument.
 Kevin Vickers
 
Other Jobs I held before coming to York:
  • Business Development Administrator, Chicago Edge Act facility of a large New York bank
  • Marketing Researcher, Chicago office of a world-wide consulting firm
  • Writer/Researcher, large municipal bond house in Chicago
  • Executive Administrator, small Chicago investment house
  • Elementary School Teacher

l also have worked as a Switchboard Operator for a temporary office services agency, a Secretary (don't knock it, that's where I learned to type - now called "keyboarding" - at 120 words a minute; all work is honourable and no experience is ever wasted) and a Photographer's Model (nothing exotic -- I did a few ads as a "young mom" till I realized how much I hated it). 

I also worked as a Hot Dog Vendor, Tour Guide, and Restroom Cleaner at Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, as a grown-up, not a youngster: I followed a (previous) husband, Pip Koper, to his job working with Korczak Ziolkowski building the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Pip has died of cancer recently, a very sad loss to the art world and to his Finnish wife and children.
I have been at York since 1980, when I started teaching part time as a contract faculty member, with an M.B.A. In 1982, I applied for and was appointed to a full-time teaching position at York in the same week that I was accepted for full-time study at the University of Toronto doctoral programme in Management Studies, major in Marketing and minor in Finance. I earned my Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor in 1989, the same year I finished my doctorate. In 2010 I was promoted to Full Professor.
Kangaroo Sunbathing Retirment - July 1, 2015, after 35 years of teaching at York. To the left is a picture of the inner me contemplating that retirement <

I am married to Bert Christensen a retired small-businessman and a self-taught computer expert who taught me web page design and who now in his retirement designs web pages professionally. He is the love of my life and I never would have been able to complete my PhD and my tenure battles without him.

We have a son Erik who was born in the middle of my doctoral programme. I guess I kind of figured that as long as I was working full time and going to school full time with full-time care of a four-bedroom house I might as well toss in a baby too. I've never regretted it; Erik brought a perspective to my studies and my life that nothing else in the world could have done. He taught me that the sun does not rise and set on the completion of an academic paper, and that there are more important things in the world than grades. This picture was taken at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where we went for several spring breaks after I went to a conference there one October and fell in love with the place. 

Erik completed his apprenticeship programme with the Carpenters' Union (Toronto Local 27), and is a journeyman scaffolder. I am very proud of him that he has chosen a Union career (so would be his grandfather, my father, the labour-union-organizer). Here is a picture Erik took of himself at work, on top of the Commerce Court Building (and yes, it was my first question: he's wearing a safety harness!)
 
Erik Christensen at the Trump Tower
This second picture is of Erik working at the Trump Tower.
 
We have two older sons, by Bert's first marriage. Both are married and have children. The sons and wives are all computer professionals. Soo has taught me a lot about being a Chinese student in Canada. Our oldest grandchild, David, graduated from McMaster University and is working for Rothman's where his Dad also works. He's already known so well for his accomplishments there that Mark, his father, who has been there for decades, frequently gets introduced as, "David's father". Sarah plays in a championship-level hockey league and is at McMaster taking urban geography. Laura was on a championship-level wrestling team and went to University of Guelph on a $25,000 Presiden'ts Scholarship. She graduated as an Environmental Engineer, complete with the cherished iron ring. Brenda does beautiful championsip Irish dancing and is finishing high school. We are very proud of all of them. These pictures are from when they were much younger.  
  Soo and Mark
David and Laura

 

Maureen and Brent, Brenda and Sarah, and Sandy 
 

 

 

The Purple Bull
My eggplant-coloured 1992 Ford Taurus in the hills of Nova Scotia. This was my first new car bought all on my own. I continued to drive the Bull till he was 12 years old and then my son drove him for another year; he finally died at the age of 13, with more than 300,000 km to his credit.

 

Here's what I replaced the Bull with, a 2004 Toyota Corolla: The Grey Ghost, and after 6 years in which I only ever had one tiny thing go wrog with my Toyota (the lock rocker stuck on the driver's side door and they fixed it for free), I traded him in for a car I've wanted since it came out in 1989. Here is Beauregard (Gaelic nickname "gille beag ruahd"), with his convertible hard top in the process of lowering.

Mazda Miata top going down

I collect frogs - my son once counted 153 in my washroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the age of 65, I took up tap dancing, something I've wanted to do most of my life. It's a little harder when you're older, but we were two adults in a class of only two and our teacher, Miss Ana Pacanins at Toronto Dance Vibe was wonderfully helpful and understanding...and patient! Below is a picture of me at my first solo.

 

Louise Tap Dancing

I play the harp and have recently taken it up again after a long absence. I worked a job I hated for five years to save the money to buy it. I started with money I was awarded in an out-of-court settlement of an equal-pay suit against a major Chicago stockbrokerage and every time I look at it, even when I'm not playing, I remember that I did something important and right. I am currently learning Pachelbel's "Canon". 

 

  My sister and I at a championship fencing match
Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia
Louise and Jane Ripley
I am, by religion, a Unitarian Universalist. You can check out the website for the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto (originally designed by my husband, Bert Christensen) and you also can  read a UU Sermon titled "Shopping Mall Values," given by The Rev. Dr. Donna Morrison-Reed, a former minister at the church. Her sermon, typically for UU sermons, dwells not on issues of God and Saints and some possible AfterLife, but on how we live our everyday lives today in the world that is here with us. This particular sermon is highly relevant to Marketing, and expresses much of the feeling with which I approach the teaching of Marketing, hoping to instill in students a respect for the fact that, in addition to learning how to market all the products that overwhelm our lives, we also need to critically evaluate the whole process of cultivating a consumer society.

I used to love to cook, as did my husband. He did the day-to-day cooking and I hit the kitchen for major productions. My specialties are East Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and Southern United States (Virginia ham, hominy, fried green tomatoes, pralines, and pecan pie, but I draw the line at collard greens). A while back we renovated the kitchen, and it's one of the few places where I really relax. Lately though, we are both busy and eat in restaurants quite often, something I never thought I'd do, and I'm learning to relax in other ways.

I love to read more than almost anything else, especially fiction. My favourite author used to be John Irving but has changed recently to Alistair McLeod, who wrote No Great Mischief, a story of life in Cape Breton; on sabbatical in 1992-1993, we lived a half hour from the causeway and visited Cape Breton often. As someone who rarely reads a book more than once because there are too many wonderful books and never enough time, I have read Irving's The Cider House Rules twice, and A Prayer For Owen Meany seven times. I've now read McLeod's No Great Mischief three times and seen a play of it at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto three times My course kits regularly advise that if you want to learn to write well, read good books.

 

Two cats in bed Two cats Jesse (left)and Juno graciously allow us to share their home, a townhouse in Scarborough overlooking a wooded ravine and the Hydro field where we walk our dogs. Here they are sleeping in the dog's bed.  

Meet Jake In late May of 2009, we adopted a new greyhound.

Eyes.jpg

        ZedDog.jpg

Jake and Louise

JakeUpsidedown2May09.jpg

We were going to wait a decent mourning period for Amber (our first grey who died in 2009), before getting another greyhound, but this dear fellow came along, needing a home. I had said I wanted a large light-coloured male because Amber had been a small dark female and I didn’t want to be expecting him to be Amber. He also had to be good with cats. When Bill Coven of Greyhound Rescue and Adoption in Ingersol (near London, Ontario) called and said he had a fawn-coloured male with a lovely disposition, we decided that day to drive down (in a drenching rainstorm) and bring him home.

Jake is a huge dog at 92 pounds (Amber was 55), the colour of a lion, with dark points. We had a few dominance issues with him at the start (he snarled at us when we tried to get him off our bed!), but the same fantastic man who taught Amber how to walk up the stairs one at a time, Danno Schut, came and taught us how to help him calm down and remind him who’s boss. He’s been with us a few years now and he’s just a sweetheart. Jake is “our” dog, all three of us, although he only sees Erik on visits now that Erik has his own house. Amber was always lovingly fond of all of us, but she was my dog and it made me so sad that when I went out, anywhere, any time, she sat in the hall and waited for me. Jake is everyone’s dog.

Jake's favourite thing is "Greyhound Day" at Norwood Park Dog Park, down by Main and Gerrard. Every Sunday, greyhound owners from all over gather from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. to let our hounds run and socialize together. They are more comfortable with their own kind because, growing up at the track, greyhounds are all they've ever known. We also have holiday walks down by the Beaches with sometimes as many as 20 greys, all in coats in cold weather. It's quite a sight. We found Jake's history on the Internet and he ran 140 races, won 37 and came in second in 20. Very different from our Amber who, with the racing name Sam Denton, ran 5 races and lost them all, and in the last race, apparently sat down in the middle of the track and refused to go any further! You can read about Jake under his racing name Silver Chestnut, and check out his track history. He is a happy loving dog.

In June of 2013, a little black pug came to live with us. Her name is Daisy. I have been taking tap dance lessons and the couple who own the dance studio have a black pug named Gracie, who comes every evening to spend the work time with her people. I fell head over heels in love with Gracie. When her twin sister came up for adoption at the age of two, we thought about it for a while (two minutes?!) and decided to increase our menagerie. She has fit right into the house and routines and is a little bundle of love. Pugs have been bred for centuries to be lap dogs and companion dogs. They are related to the ancient Chinese fu dog. Daisy even comes with us to Greyhound Day at Norwood Park where she fearlessly runs with the long-legged hounds. Louise with Daisy the Black Pug
MY FIRST DOG/Treating Depression
On sabbatical in 1998, we adopted a greyhound, a "failed" racer, rescued from a racetrack in Wisconsin by a wonderful woman in Kitchener, Laurie Soutar. Her name was Amber, and she brought untold joy into my life. She exemplifies my philosophy of life -- that we never really fail; sometimes there are things we don't do as well as others, but every time we try something, we learn, and everything we do finds some value somewhere. If Amber had not "failed" at the race track, I would never have known her and might well be dead of stress levels and depression that I never learned to handle until she came into my life.
 

In May 2009, Amber passed away. She had fought off thyroid cancer the previous summer, and lived long enough to help me through breast cancer in the fall of 2008.

     
Greyhounds run differently from other dogs; they run like a horse with all four feet on and then off the ground, like this:
and here is how the artist Mick Cawston sees a greyhound:
The picture is called "Plea of Innocence"
and the greys often look just like this, especially after some meat
has just disappeared from a high kitchen counter.

Some of My Words to Live By

My favourite, and it's no coincidence that it comes from sports analogies (for those of you in Gender Issues in Management), is attributed to pitcher Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige, the first black baseball player to be inducted into the hall of fame for his career in what was then called "the Negro Leagues". He also played in the Major Leagues, and was one of my father's favourite baseball players. We routinely said this in undergraduate school and it was probably my earliest experience with "living in the now" and getting through what had to be got through -

Satchel Paige - "Some you win, some you lose, some get rained out, but you suit up for every game".

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays speaking on April 22, 2014 - "The most important game of the season is the one you're playing today".

Wayne Gretzky - "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take
".
     
Then, from the military is this one, crucial if you're going to battle anything, anywhere -
"Choose your hill to die on". Not everything is worth dying for and we've all got a limited amount of energy and time.

One of my favourites regarding teaching - "Ultimately it's all connected, everything to everything else, and one of the joys of education and scholarship is discovering those links". I think actually it is I who said this, often.

Margaret Mead - "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

From "Believe" by Justin Bieber, one of his side men talking - "You gotta make it through your journey and tell the story of that journey because that's going to help someone else make it through their journey" and from the same DVD, Justin himself - "Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and fly". Justin Bieber is a favourite musician of my tap dance teacher.

And from Zen philosoophy, of which I've read a lot in my bid to simplify my life, reduce my stress levels, and get my depression under control (I'm still learning to remember these) -

No job is ever menial if it needs to be done and you do it well.
No experience is ever wasted.
Live in the present; it’s all you’ve got or ever will have.
Whatever befalls you, act as if you chose it, and learn from it.


York University, Toronto
M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.