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Season 1, Episode 14 – John Cerrito: The Business of Thinking Big

John Cerrito

John Cerrito, Professor of Business Administration, reflects on the growth, community, and alumni of Augsburg’s largest department.

 

Transcript

John Cerrito: We’re not afraid to seek God here, uh, which is, which I think is a, a tremendous benefit. We are preparing you just not for, uh, uh, uh, success in the business world. We intend to help prepare you for life.

Paul Pribbenow: I’m Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg University. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. It’s my great privilege to present the Augsburg Podcast, one way you can meet some of the faculty and staff I’m honored to work with every day.

John Cerrito: Uh, my name is John Cerrito. I’m a, uh, professor in the Department of Business Administration. I’ve been with Augsburg since 1983.

Well, I grew up in Providence, uh, Rhode Island, and graduated from, uh, Rhode Island, and then University of Wisconsin, uh, Stout, and then the University of, uh, Minnesota. When I graduated and completed my undergraduate, I absolutely had no plans to go back, uh, to college at all. I had a friend who, uh, taught at a community college and said, “You know, they, they really could use some help teaching principles and management courses,” and I said, “That’s not something that I wanna do. Uh, I’ve never … A, I can’t imagine going back into academe,” and he said, “Well, try it,” and I, and I did, and uh, I really, really, really enjoyed it, and I completed the Master’s, uh, was in a doctoral program at the university, uh, taught at the University of Minnesota, taught at, uh, St. Thomas, applied for a position at Augsburg, and I was a adjunct my first year here, and then a full-time position opened up, and it was absolutely wonderful. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of this, uh, faculty and to be part of this college.

Augsburg, uh, uh, University I thought was, uh, uh, uh, fairly unique. Uh, when I came here, I looked at, uh, St. Thomas, and I looked at, uh, uh, some of the public schools, but this was really friendly and very, very inviting. It, it, [inaudible 00:02:08] uh, that sort of Scandinavian/Lutheran tradition of, of openness and welcomeness, and that’s not my background, uh, neither Lutheran or a Scandinavian, but I have to tell you, I’ve, I’ve never felt at home anywhere else in my life as I have right here at Augsburg College.

We’re the largest department on campus, and we recognize the fact that, uh, uh, we have a great many, uh, students. We’re a very, very popular, uh, department on campus, and it’s sort of like, “Well, what can we do to work with our colleagues in other areas?”

Several years ago, uh, we developed a music business program. It started off as a minor, and now it’s a major. Working with the Music Department, uh, we established that minor. We’re proud of it, and there was a need for leadership in the arts and for people to work in arts administration. It grew into a major, and along the way, uh, they used less of our courses and developed more of their own courses, and that was good. We were glad to see it, uh, take off.

Now, we’ve done that with, uh, uh, science, as well. We developed a, uh, minor for students who are majoring in science where they could get a minor in business administration. We have an entrepreneurship program, and I think that it’ll be broad-based. I think that students who major in the anatomy, social science, or science will have the opportunity to, uh, uh, to complete a, uh, minor in entrepreneurship, so we reach out to other departments. Uh, we help other departments.

The greatest satisfaction is to work with a department, uh, and, and build a minor, like music, and see them grow from a minor to a, a major and have them say, “Well, you know, uh, we don’t want you to get mad, but we don’t need a lot of your courses anymore,” and that’s great that we understand that, and that’s fine. We’re happy to see you grow. We’re happy to see you build.

You know, we bring faculty on, go through the interview process. Several faculty will self-select. Uh, they’ll look at it and they’ll say, “You know, this really isn’t for me.” They’re used to teaching big classes, and they’re used to being in an institution that is a lot bigger than this where they were fairly, uh, anonymous. That’s not the case here. These are very, very small classes. The students know you, and you know them. You can’t hide. They’re gonna ask you questions.

We’re also affiliated, uh, with the Lutheran church. You have an obligation to the greater community. You have an obligation to serve, and many of us in the department, you know, you have to practice what you preach, and what I always say to students is that you volunteer at a, a place, any place of your choice, and, uh, you make a contribution, but there’s another … There’s a flip side to that coin. You will become greatly enriched by the process yourself.

I’m, I’m proud of our alumni. They have done extremely well in their profession, and I hear from them, uh, quite often, but it’s not only, uh, the, uh, the, uh, succeeding in their, uh, careers, in their vocation, but they’re also good people. They make, uh, contributions, uh, to their communities. They, uh, uh, raise families. They do so many different things. These stories of our alumni, uh, what they did here, uh, how they felt with Augsburg College, and what they did once they left here will probably be far more interesting than faculty stories, in my opinion.

Paul Pribbenow: That was John Cerrito, Professor of Business Administration at Augsburg University. I’m President Paul Pribbenow. For more information. Please visit Augsburg.edu, and thanks for listening to the Augsburg Podcast.