Teaching for a combined 21 years, married professors call Baruch home

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Ayse Kelce

Professors Christine Markussen and Jim Walsh’s story started at a horse barn in Atlanta almost 33 years ago. As husband and wife, they have lived and taught in several countries including Poland and China. The couple has been teaching in Baruch College’s management department for six and 15 years respectively, and Markussen has also taught in the law department.

Markussen retired from MetLife as the General Counsel for its sixty Global Operations, and Walsh retired from IBM where he taught executives in the management development field.

Walsh started teaching at Warsaw University after Markussen was transferred to Warsaw by MetLife to start a business in 1999. The couple also taught at Baruch’s program at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China in 2017.

When Walsh was teaching in Poland, the country was in an early phase of freedom after communism. He encouraged his students at Warsaw University to ask questions during his classes, and some students ended up reaching out to the dean to make sure that it was acceptable.

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I’ve taught at 13 different universities in 53 years and I would say these students [at Baruch] are the best.
— Jim Walsh

“Because in Poland, students were used to not asking questions,” Markussen said.

After teaching in many different countries, the couple expressed that they still like teaching at Baruch the most.

“They’re hard working and, you know, so many balance work and school work and family and it’s impressive. The students here are really impressive. And for some of them, English isn’t their first language and still they’re here, and they’re determined, and they’re really working hard to understand,” Markussen said about Baruch students.

“I’ve taught at 13 different universities in 53 years and I would say these students [at Baruch] are the best. I just, the love of teaching . . . It’s like tennis, you hit the ball, they hit it back to you. If you hit it with a player and they don’t in the back, it’s not fun. But this is a back and forth,” commented Walsh.

Markussen’s favorite course to teach is Management in Multinational Corporations due to the diversity of students enrolled in the class and her personal background.

“I just love being able to talk about a business in an international context, and helping people prepare for careers overseas in other countries, and teaching managing in different cultures and leadership in different cultures,” she said about the course.

For Walsh, Management 3120 Honors is the most enjoyable course to teach, which he has been teaching for 15 years. “Some call it Life 101,” Walsh said about the course.

He structures to course to directly help students with their future careers, focusing on how to build successful relationships in the workplace and how to set fulfilling and realistic expectations.

Markussen and Walsh both emphasized a real-world approach in their teaching styles.

“We both have a business background. We have that kind of practical business focused approach. It’s a business school, so we really want it to be a real world and not just theoretical,” said Markussen.

Their classes study Harvard Business School cases, and they encourage students to read resources like The Wall Street Journal. Both Markussen and Walsh came into Baruch as adjunct professors, but their views on the pay of adjunct faculty were different.

“We just both love to teach and it’s a way for us to give back. I think it’s, it would be very tough if this were our profession and we were starting out,” Markussen said. 

“I mean, if you’re only an adjunct professor, I don’t know how you, how you live in financially, but you know, we’re fortunate that we can do something that we love to do and the pay doesn’t have to be a consideration, but it’s an issue,” Markussen said. However, Walsh said that the professors are already aware of the pay when starting out as adjuncts.

“The pay is set by the market, that’s the way the economic market works. It is bad everywhere, including Poland and China. It is because the market sets the value,” he said.