Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business
BJ Zirger

Making Connections

Associate dean uses her networking skills to bridge the path between learning and technology.

Step into the office of B.J. Zirger, where she’s comfortably surrounded by technology.

Flanked by five computers, cell phone and iPad, the sight is a fitting scenario for the associate dean of online education in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

New technology excites her. “I’m like a kid at Christmas,” says the professor of strategic management, who has taught students in the Linder College of Business at every level: undergraduate including honors, MBA and doctorate.

Even more satisfying, she says, is the use of technology to create new learning opportunities for students, which she has done in the Lindner College of Business and the university.

Zirger is leading the charge to offer more online courses for Lindner College of Business students. She’s constructing the college’s first exclusively online program, the master of science in taxation, a 30-credit hour graduate degree.

Since her 1991 arrival at UC, Zirger has been a part of nearly 70 collaborative committees and programs at the college or university level, of which more than half have been technology related.

Her reputation among colleagues throughout UC has been one of admiration for her ability to unite a team and make an impact.

“She has been able to combine a volume of service dedication with a level of quality impact that has left lasting marks throughout the institution,” says Richard J. Harknett, associate professor of political science in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the University Faculty.

Her collaborative effort and service to the university earned her UC’s Faculty Award for Exemplary Contribution in Service by the UC Faculty Senate.

Because of her engineering background, Zirger, who holds an MBA and doctorate in management science and industrial engineering from Stanford University, developed a strong interest in technology.

“I’m very hands-on,” Zirger says. “I have an intellectual curiosity, a stick-to-it mentality, for problem solving until it’s solved. I want to know how it works, why it works and expand the limits of technology to make it do more.”

Her curiosity has led Zirger to fuse technology and education to transform teaching, learning and research to benefit students and faculty alike.

On the academic front, her mission is to tailor education to provide additional value to students. As a leader on the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Academic Instructional Technology, she collaborated with students to define technology needs. She then led a $1.6 million grant initiative from the Cleveland Foundation to introduce leading-edge technology and enhance business education in the college.

“We were the first college at UC to record all classroom lectures and makes them available to students,” she says.

She’s been a champion of instructional technology and interdisciplinary education on several other academic committees across the university that include leadership roles in UC Forward; UC/21 Anytime, Anywhere; Live Well Collaborative; UC3 Innovation Transformation Certificate; and Solar Decathlon, a competition that united business, engineering and design students to build a house totally powered by solar energy.

On the research side, Zirger is helping scientists understand what it will take to get new medical devices to market. As part of a $9 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), she’s connecting technology with a clinical need to improve patient point-of-care technologies that address acute neurologic emergencies.

“I like the people side of management and technology,” Zirger says. “I love the challenge of effecting change. For engineers, it’s about developing the technologies; for those in business, it’s about bringing those new technologies to market.”

From a teaching standpoint, Zirger works tirelessly to advance faculty development and to distinguish UC as a leader in pedagogy. She served as interim director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and is currently secretary and treasurer of the Academy of Fellows for Teaching and Learning, providing UC faculty with cutting-edge professional development to help students become successful graduates.

To advance the college’s online initiatives, she’s teaching an undergraduate capstone course, a first at being delivered in an online format.

Regardless of her multitude of service and accomplishments, Zirger is most focused on outcome instead of accolades. She says she’s expanded her own learning horizons and “sees the value in having multiple problem-solving lenses.”

“I can learn something from every single person,” she says. “Each perspective, when uniquely combined, provides for a superior outcome.”