Dr. Karli Peterson Talks About Educating the Chickasaw Nation with

Ada, Oklahoma's East Central University services a diverse cross-section of its state's residents, including many members of the nearby Chickasaw Nation. Because of the assistance the university's given to their business enterprises, the Nation recently gifted funds to establish an endowed professorship there. spoke with Dr. Karli J. Peterson, the first recipient of that professorship.

By Eric Garneau

karli peterson Would you tell our readers about your own educational and professional background before coming to East Central University?

Karli Peterson: I earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Moorhead State University in accounting. I then completed a Master of Science program in Business Administration with a human resources emphasis from Central Michigan University. At that time I was employed at a university in North Dakota. From there I took employment in Wisconsin at Northcentral Technical College. Then I accepted employment at East Central University in Ada. Upon my employment here, I was told that I would need to complete a Ph.D. program to keep my teaching position. I received a Ph.D. from Capella University in organization and management with a specialization in leadership while employed at ECU. After completing the Ph.D. program, I completed another master's degree program in accounting at East Central University. How long have you been at East Central, and what kind of courses do you teach there?

KP: I accepted a continuous faculty position at ECU in the fall 2001. I teach courses in business strategy, entrepreneurship, human resources management and organizational behavior. How did you first become involved with the Chickasaw Nation?

KP: The Chickasaw Nation is a strong supporter of education, which they use to improve the lives of their people. After completing my Ph.D. program, I assisted the Nation in providing workshops and training session in mid-level management. The primary areas I focused on were leadership and working with the multiple generations employed with the Chickasaw Nation. How did you become the first recipient of the Chickasaw Nation endowed professorship in business administration at East Central University? Was this something you sought, or something given to you?

KP: ECU and the School of Business selected me for this honor. I believe I was selected because I'm interested in working with the Nation and I'm a strong supporter of education. I also have a high regard for the Chickasaw Nation. Switching gears for a second, you earned a Ph.D. through an online program. Is that something you would recommend to others? Why?

KP: I appreciate the strong academic experience I received through Capella University. The courses were challenging and interesting; the professors were engaging and supportive. I believe Capella University's competitive advantage is to deliver a high-quality education within a framework that supports individual student success. As difficult as the Ph.D. program was to accomplish, I believe my life has improved because of the experience, as have my intellectual capabilities. In fact, a paper that I wrote while finishing my dissertation was accepted at Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, the premier international conference on entrepreneurship.

I think Internet-based education is a requirement for today's population. The working world and academia have blended into a 24-hour presence. This requires a shift to meet the time constraints of learners. Students are more desirous of fitting education into their lives rather than fitting their lives into a rigid time slot established for education. Is there anything further you'd like to tell our readers about your experiences with teaching the Chickasaw Nation or anything else?

KP: This is a quote taken from my cousin who teaches at the University of Colorado. I have the same belief:

'That's what people do.' So replied the North Dakota farmer when asked why she had taken in dozens of people whose cars were stranded in a prairie blizzard last fall. 'That's what people do.' My grandparents in North Dakota would have said the same thing, and in the same tone, as if the reporter were slightly addled to ask in the first place. Helping when needed, righting wrongs and providing comfort are not extraordinary actions but everyday acts, a part of living in a family, a community and a world.

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