Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  MARQUETTE -- While training for a management position in 1963 with the Dayton Co. – now Target Corp. – Jim Camerius took a brief reprieve from retailing to visit his former professors at Northern Michigan University. Little did he know that the trip to his alma mater would evolve into a career-altering experience.

Camerius arrived on campus expecting nothing more than to reminisce and catch up with those who played defining roles in his undergraduate education. He left with an offer to join their ranks by filling a teaching vacancy in the business department. Now in his 41st year of service to Northern, Camerius recently set a new record for longevity among faculty members. He surpassed the 40-year mark held by the late chemistry professor Lucian Hunt.

“The time has flown by, really,” Camerius said. “When I started here, the business department was very basic. There were only five or six faculty members – one per discipline. I was the marketing instructor. But there were some innovative thinkers back then. Someone suggested we look at the computer and its potential applications. Most of us didn’t think it would last. We thought it was a fad, which is an interesting reaction in hindsight, given where the university is right now.

“I remember we had war surplus furniture and we were located in Kaye Hall under the stage of the auditorium. We didn’t even have doors on our offices. I would have to say that the present physical plant is much better at meeting our needs. But the university was growing so fast in those days, adding 1,000 students a year and expanding academic programs.”

Camerius has outlasted seven presidents. He described the first – Edgar Harden – as most inspiring.

“He was here when I was a student and when I was hired,” Camerius said. “Dr. Harden had established a firm foundation for all of us to grow professionally. He was encouraging and friendly. When he patted you on the shoulder, your shoulder stayed warm all day.”

Not long after Camerius began teaching in the fall of 1963, the nation was shocked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“I remember going out on the steps of Kaye Hall and noticing that the university flags were just being lowered,” he recalled. “People were crying and there was a lot of unrest and uncertainty. That was a sad time, but it became more turbulent on campus in the late 60s and early 70s.”

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚   Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Despite all of the changes that have swirled around him over the years, Camerius said the classroom experience has remained consistent.

“I haven’t noticed much change in terms of the students and their interest in the subject material. In some ways, students are more professional now, but generally they’ve been well prepared all along. You always have a case or two that make you want to tear your hair out, but those are more the exceptions than the rule. For me, the reward comes after each course, when I realize the students have grasped the material. We see so many come and go, but based on the feedback we receive, we know there are success stories out there. That makes you feel good.”

Camerius teaches international marketing, services marketing, personal selling, retail and advertising. His scholarly expertise is in the area of case studies. He has written numerous cases about retailing, strategic management and business policy involving such corporate giants as Wal-Mart and Kmart, not to mention direct-selling enterprises such as Mary Kay Cosmetics and Longaberger Baskets. His cases have appeared in about 135 textbooks, many of which fill a bookshelf in his Magers Hall office. 

“I had a renewed interest in it here at Northern when the College of Business began working on accreditation several years ago,” Camerius said. “I always wanted to write case studies and they are an example of applied research that fit with the objectives of the college and university.”

When asked to pinpoint some professional highlights during his tenure at Northern, Camerius said two stand out: his appointment as president of the Society for Case Research and a 1995 faculty award from the Michigan Association of Governing Boards.

Hitting the 41-year mark with one employer is a milestone that few others will achieve, according to John Frick, director of the NMU JOBSearch Center.

“It’s almost unheard of these days,” he said. “What I have gotten from our professional organization – the National Association of Colleges and Employers – is that the average person changes jobs five to seven times during their working life. They stay in the same field, but move on to different employers. The average person also changes careers – in other words, goes into a completely different line of work – two to four times. You just don’t see as many cases of people starting and ending their careers in the same place anymore.”

It is premature to mention the end of CameriusÂ’ academic career. He has no plans to retire in the near future.

“The university has always been very supportive of my work, so I never had a desire to move on,” he said. “As long as I can make a contribution to the College of Business and to the university, I will still be here.”

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director