(photo by Timothy Hudson)
|M Louise Ripley
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 is now in her 90s and retired from her volunteer jobs at the Corcoran and Kreeger Art Galleries in Washington D.C. 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 most of The Great Books on his own. My early memories of him include his being woken at 3 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. 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, and an ability to sleep anywhere and any time.
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 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 Southern gay cavalry hero. I am contemplating self-publishing.
This picture of Civil War pickets in Virginia was painted in 1862 by Bierstadt.
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.
|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. As a York student, you may have to stretch your imagination to conceptualize
what I mean by "small classes." When I went to Shimer in the 1960s, there
were 350 students, classes were never larger than 12, and there
were 70 students in my graduating class. The college now has an
enrolment of only 120 students; classes are still never more than
12, and the Dean
knows every student by name and face. The curriculum is based in what
is often known as "The Great Books," reading only from
original sources (our bookstore bills were horrendous). The
emphasis is entirely on academics; when I went, we were 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
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, 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. She studied law at the Sorbonne and learned French, and is currently working in Health and Safety in the diamond mines of Alberta.
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 Busiess. 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 largely responsible for my strong interests today in business ethics and issues of the environment and women's rights.|
|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.|
|U of T was by far the least supportive institution I ever studied in, 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 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 fun way that it has stayed with me all these years. Professor Larry Ring, whose wonderful explanation of the evolution of the sales person I stole 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 to 10 the two nights before 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 read for every class. 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 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 all-time favourite car, my beloved 1980 MGB; in the middle is me on the John Deere tractor I learned to drive on my sabbatical in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1992, and 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.|
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., and a tiny model of it hangs from the top of the plant in my office
|Other Jobs I held before
coming to York:
|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. 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.|
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. 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.
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!)
|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. Sarah plays in a championship-level hockey
league and is also at McMaster taking urban geography. Laura is on a championship-level wrestling team
and recently won the $25,000 President's Scholarship to University
Brenda does beautiful championsip Irish dancing and is still in
high school. We are very proud of all of them.
These pictures are from when they were much younger.
|Two cats Jesse 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 dog, Jake.|
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 wrong with my Toyota (the lock rocker stuck on the driver's door and they fixed it for free), I traded it 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.
I collect frogs - my
son once counted 153 in my washroom
I have recently taken up tap dancing, something I've wanted to learn to do most of my life. It's a little harder being older but we are three adults in a class of only three and our teacher Miss Ana Pacanins of Toronto Dance Vibe is wonderfully helpful and understanding.
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, by religion, a Unitarian Universalist. You can check out the website for the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto (designed and maintained 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 few years ago 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.
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. 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.
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 that I never learned to handle until
she came into my life.
In May 2009, Amber passed away. She had fought off cancer of the thyroid 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
and they often look just like this.
of My "Words to Live By"
My favourite: (and it's no coincidence that it comes from sports analogies, for those of you taking "Gender Issues in Management" -
Some you win, some you lose, some get rained out, but you suit up for every game.
I have no author on it, but we used to say it regularly in undergrad school. It was probably my earliest experience with "living in the now" and getting through what had to be got through.
"Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with sort of 'pssst' that you usually can't even hear because you're in such a rush to or from something important you've tried to engineer"
(from David Foster Wallace's novel "Infinite Jest")
York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.