by John Michael O'Leary
Dr. Carl Saxby, associate professor of marketing emeritus, concluded a 22.5-year teaching career with USI in December. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting at Illinois State University, a master’s degree in finance from Keller School of Management and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Memphis.
“When I came to USI in 1997, I’d already spent about 18 years in industry, primarily in corporate finance,” says Saxby. “Teaching was my second career.”
During his first years in the classroom Saxby was primarily responsible for teaching strategy and sales. But the onset of a profound loss of hearing put his future as an educator in doubt. “The principles of selling require instruction that is highly verbal,” he says. “I didn’t know if I could continue teaching, given my disability.”
Saxby’s value to the College, however, was never in doubt. He recalls that the school’s administration was understanding. “They worked with me, letting me move into subjects that were less demanding verbally.”
At about this time, robust development across the World Wide Web was revealing a marketing frontier in want of academic investigation. It was an ideal milieu for Saxby. “I became intrigued with interactive marketing and its many differences compared to face-to-face marketing and sales. It was revolutionary on a mass scale.”
Earned Collegiate Respect
“I joined the faculty in 2001, and Carl was among the first to welcome me,” says Dr. Kevin Celuch, professor or marketing and Blair Chair of Business Science. “Our paths soon crossed with a shared interest in developing critical thinking abilities in our students.”
The two also shared a special interest in teaching ethical decision-making. When The Journal of Marketing Education devoted a special issue to ethics, it gave prominent placement to a paper they co-authored: “Counter-Factual Thinking and Ethical Decision-Making: A New Approach to an Old Problem in Marketing Education.”
“Carl brought a strong student-orientation to his studies, particularly in his projects on student learning,” says Celuch.
“Carl has been a mentor to me as well as a colleague,” says Dr. Chad Milewicz, associate professor of marketing. “He’s had a huge impact on the Marketing Department and what it is today. He was integral in creating the Sales Suite (a specially designed classroom with role-play areas). And he led efforts to bring interactive digital marketing into the curriculum.”
Professional respect for Carl extends beyond the campus. In 2013, the Midwest Higher Education Compact selected him to take part in a cross-state tuning initiative. “Carl was one of 15 marketing educators who worked for over a year, collaborating with representatives from academia and industry, to advance the quality of post-secondary marketing education,” says Milewicz. “The team did excellent work and it was special having a leader of the team also teaching at USI.”
When asked about memories he holds dear, Saxby recalls the time a new student came to his office for guidance while her mother stood outside the door, sobbing. “She was overcome with emotion at the thought her child would get a college education.” Then there’s the time he offered a few encouraging words to a student who was struggling academically, words that helped the student gain a clearer sense of purpose. Most cherished of all, he remembers meeting the woman who would be-come his wife.
“It happened one summer that Lori and I were both assigned to the same online seminar,” says Saxby. “We were seated at terminals across the table from each other. I like to joke that we met online.”
Now, he says, the moments he appreciates most are when he hears from former students and learns they are doing well.
Logan Lane took Saxby’s Introduction to Marketing class as a sophomore. “I liked the class so much I just kept taking Carl’s classes through my senior year,” he says.
The two became good friends, staying in touch after Lane graduated in 2015. “Professor Saxby has always been available to give me good advice,” says Lane. “He’s a really good texter.”
When Lane decided to pursue a master's in urban and regional planning at Ball State University, he drew on his experience as Saxby’s student. “Carl prepared me for what I would experience at a higher academic level,” he says. “The graduate work was difficult, with an emphasis on learning on your own—which is how Carl prepared me.”
Saxby says retirement gives him and Lori the freedom to travel. Their most recent outing: a fall-foliage tour of New England and New Brunswick. He’s also mulling how he might best use some of his free time to make a difference for others with disabilities. He still lives by the belief that you can accomplish whatever you want if you put your heart into it.
“If you want it, go after it—nobody’s going to give it to you,” he says. “I went from a hog farm to a wonderful and fulfilling career. You can achieve, too. It takes time . . . have some patience.”
"A big focus of my teaching was helping students learn to think critically and make ethical decisions. The data I’ve collected from my classes shows that it worked . . . I’m pretty happy about that.”
-- Dr. Carl Saxby, associate professor of marketing emeritus