Campus Closeup: Claudia Orr
Management professor Claudia Orr (College of Business) may seem like all business, but at heart she is a passionate outlet mall shopper. “Anytime I travel anywhere, I look on the Web before I go to find out if there are any outlet malls nearby,” she said. “My favorite store is Steinmart, which I describe as an upscale version of T.J. Maxx.”
A Marquette native, Orr has been teaching at NMU for 25 years. She tends to teach a fixed set of classes, including managerial communications, methods of training, customer service and the occasional section of principles of computer information systems.
“I try to teach a heavy schedule on a couple of days and then leave large blocks of time available on other days to focus on my research,” she said.
Orr took her first business class at Marquette Senior High School “to gain some marketable skills.” Her father was the principal of her school at that time and her mother was a former teacher. “I came from a family of teachers; I wanted to be different and go into business instead,” she said. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree from NMU, Orr relocated to Wisconsin to be a trainer for IBM, and realized that teaching didn’t sound so bad after all.
“Training at IBM was like teaching, and they had me traveling a lot, too. I missed the area, so I came back,” she said.
She pursued a master’s degree at NMU and went on to earn a doctorate at the University of Minnesota. Orr stayed in touch with some of her NMU professors and came back to teach at NMU when one of them alerted her to an opening.
In 25 years, Orr said that students have evolved a lot.
“Students today are more interested in seeing the relevance of a class to what they want to do in their careers. So I believe in helping students understand the benefit to them of learning the material. They have also grown up with technology and are accustomed to using computers for entertainment and social interaction. I have become much more focused on structuring my classes using active learning approaches. Students are then engaged throughout the class period because they are ‘doing’ something rather than passively listening or distracted by their laptops.”
Outside of her job, Orr enjoys biking and walking with her four dogs: two golden retrievers and two shi tzus.
“Dogs are my passion, there’s no question about it. They force me to get out and get some exercise when I get home, and that helps me to maintain a balance in my life.”
Given the choice of any job, Orr would still choose her own. “Business education is the best of both worlds; you could go either way, into strictly teaching or strictly business. I think I have the best job in the world. I would never do anything else.”