The Professor Is In: Q&A with Jim Lawler

Did you know that Seidenberg Professor Jim Lawler is an undercover history buff and world traveler? When he’s not meeting penguins in Patagonia and the Sultan in Oman, read how he gave up being a corporate exec for encouraging students to help underprivileged members of society in this month’s The Professor Is In! >>Read More

Seidenberg Professor of Information Technology Jim Lawler, PhD, has a lot of hidden talents up his sleeves. Known for his generosity and kindness, as well as having a passion for helping others, Professor Lawler enriches the lives of Pace students and young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities through the use of technology in his Community Empowerment through Information Systems Course (CIS 102W). Lawler is encouraging both students and young people in the community to work together, and helps build both relationships and rewarding experiences.

In 2010, Professor Lawler was the recipient of a national Jefferson Award for Community Service, and was specifically noted for his involvement with AHRC NYC, a nonprofit organization in Lower Manhattan dedicated to serving individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class as a college student was marketing, and my least favorite class was statistics.

What was one thing or person that made you passionate about your current career?
From my corporate experience at Merrill Lynch from 1976 to1998 in managing an internal learning organization, I learned that helping others in the learning of computer technology had an immediate impact on personal performance, which was a consideration that motivated me to begin a concurrent career as an Adjunct Professor at Pace from 1983 to 2001 and as a Professor from 2002 to the present at the Seidenberg School.

What quality do you most value in your students?
The quality that I value most in my students is self-motivation to succeed, which is a quality that I require of students that are in my extra-curricular programs of service that are helping teenagers and young adults with disabilities at the University.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I would encourage undergraduate students to be engaged in different extra-curricular programs not only in their fields of study but also in other fields in the schools of the University, from which they would develop a network of faculty and students that would be helpful to them when they graduate from the University, and I would encourage them to be engaged in community organization projects in helping others less fortunate than themselves. Education is not only learning but also engagement in the life of a university.  Few students leverage the advantages of extra-curricular programs at a university.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
If I had to do it over again, I would prefer to be a professor upon graduation from university, and not be a corporate executive, which was my official profession until I joined Pace as a non-adjunct professor in 2002. Though the compensation as an executive of Merrill Lynch was exceptionally great, the experience of helping others, as I am helping students and those not as fortunate in society, is greater than in a corporate organization. The impact on others is greater in a university.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
My favorite books are generally 20th century history, and my favorite TV is the history and military channels, though my favorites in entertainment are the Met operas of Wagner and the plays of Shakespeare at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Lantern Theater (Philadelphia).

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
If I had an extra hour every day, I would read even more history.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My favorite journey was to Antarctic and Patagonia in South America in 2006, where I met millions of penguins, and my favorite exotic journeys were to India in 2008, where I met in person the actress Aishwarya Rai, and to Oman in 2004, where I met the Sultan.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
“Three Glories of Speech: Brevity, Steadiness and Wisdom”—from the precepts of King Cormac as recorded in the Irish “Book of Leinster.”

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
I would choose Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan—my favorite presidents.

Interview by Pace student Helen Arase ‘14