After 18 years of dedication to Ursinus College, Dr. Carol Cirka will retire this year from the business and economics department.
“Up until a couple of years ago, I couldn’t envision myself retiring. I couldn’t envision myself not continuing to work for the foreseeable future,” Cirka said.
According to Cirka, one of the things that changed her vision for the future was the collaborative opportunity that she had over the last year with Ursinus alumni and longtime Ursinus trustee, Will Abele ’61, and his wife Joan Abele. Cirka worked with the Abeles to help start the Abele Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps students who face significant challenges to further their education post high school. Cirka enjoyed her time working with them and plans to continue to work with the Abele Family Foundation on a more flexible schedule after retiring from Ursinus.
After retirement Cirka also hopes to travel more, and spend more time with family, especially with her grandchildren.
Cirka looks forward to the retirement: “I worked for a long time; it’s time to take a break.”
Over the years, Cirka has taught classes on business management, strategy, research methods, leadership ethics and human resource management. She is also the co-founder and co-director of the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies along with Dr. Rebecca Jaroff of the English department.
During her time at Ursinus, Cirka sought to disseminate entrepreneurship on campus. The creation of the U-Imagine Center was a big part of this effort.
“[The] U-Imagine Center was [created] to provide a bridge for students between what they are experiencing as a part of their undergraduate education and how [their] skills can be applied no matter where [they] work,” Cirka elaborated.
Reflecting on her teaching style, Cirka explained the importance of this applied-focus for students. ”I’m demanding . . . I like to take whatever I’m teaching and show how it relates to what students are going to be doing in their careers.”
Cirka noted that she likes to use various teaching methods, particularly the experiential learning method, where she can use activities to get students out of the Ursinus bubble. According to Cirka, her purpose as a teacher was to have students leave Ursinus with “the knowledge that they can compete anywhere against anybody and be successful.”
Danielle Kuller, a senior applied economics major with minors in management study and psychology, praised Cirka’s work and teaching style. Said Kuller, “[Cirka] is one of the smartest professors I’ve ever had. Her class is always interesting and informative . . . She pushes you to be a better student and think more critically.”
Another legacy that Cirka will leave at Ursinus is a project she collaborated on with five other professors concerning the influences of digital technology. The project consists of classes with a wide variety of topics such as digital storytelling, analytics in digital marketing, and psychological changes through digital contents.
According to Cirka, “the cluster of classes has to do with [how] what we do has changed because of digital technology and platforms . . . [It] doesn’t matter what your major is or your plans, you should be comfortable in a digital world. The classes go well beyond what many students are comfortable with right now, which is social media and using computers.”
Cirka wants students to be successful in utilizing the information and the technology that the digital world has to offer, instead of solely being consumers of that technology. Although Cirka will not teach any of the courses because of her retirement, she believes these classes will integrate well with the new core curriculum.
The only concern Cirka has about retirement is that she will miss the people of Ursinus, especially her colleagues from the business and economics department.
“I will miss the day-to-day [at our department]. We are a fun department, we get along and we work well together. We know how to enjoy our jobs [while taking them] seriously,” said Cirka.
Before she leaves Ursinus, Cirka would like to offer some advice to students: “Work hard, be an excellent communicator, learn fast, [and] adapt quickly to the working environment. The rest [of your job experience] will teach you”.