Common Threads Form a Strong Fabric for Leadership and Organization


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Who better to send communication students off to Cisco, Fidelity Investments, Massachusetts General Hospital, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the US Department of Homeland Security than Dr. Carl Zangerl, the domain lead for Communications & Media at the college. The common thread in Dr. Zangerl's career is his constant striving and desire to learn new things.

Dr. Zangerl had wanted to begin his career in academics; however, it wasn't a good time to teach humanities and history in 1970s, so he decided to pursue what he saw as a practical degree, as he went on to get a Master's in Public Administration from New York University (NYU). That led to his first foray into academia when he began work as the first chief of staff for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at NYU. Dr. Zangerl also taught at Purdue University and Stanford University.

During Dr. Zangerl's 23-year corporate career, he took on many challenges including learning about websites, data base marketing, and direct mail, a breadth of interests and education that probably began as an undergraduate. Starting at University of Illinois, Dr. Zangerl earned his BS in History, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, followed by an MA in History from the University of Michigan. Then he went on to get a PhD in modern German history from the University of Illinois. 

Eventually, he moved to Boston to begin his career at New England Financial, which merged in the mid-nineties with MetLife, where Dr. Zangerl worked as a strategic planner, webmaster, corporate speech writer, and in internal and external communications within the sales division. He went on to become the head of field and executive communications.

"The field of communication is incredibly dynamic in this era of digital disruption, and you have to commit yourself to lifelong learning to stay current - this is where curiosity plays such a critical role," said Dr. Zangerl. "This spirit of curiosity is something we emphasize in the learning experience we provide our students. We encourage them to act on their curiosity, their passion."

One such example is Zirui Yan, a tri-lingual student in the class of 2018 in the Master's in Corporate and Organizational Communication. She is the co-founder of Lean In to Grow, a network of Northeastern students, alumnae, faculty, and professionals to empower and transform the personal and career success of the university's growing population of international female students. In its short time on campus, Lean In to Grow has already inspired more than 200 students through monthly events and discussions.

"It has also been very exciting to implement Dean Mary Loeffelholz's vision of competency-based learning that cuts across the college's disciplinary domains," said Dr. Zangerl. 

A recent example is the launch of a new MS in Human Resources Management program. While the curriculum is based on a solid foundation of core human resources courses, the concentrations are interdisciplinary and cutting edge. The Digital HR concentration draws on courses in the Informatics master's program, and the Global Talent Management concentration leverages courses in cross-cultural communication. And the Artificial Intelligence (AI) concentration prepares students with the analytical skills they will need to implement AI technologies in the workplace.

The spirit of curiosity that Dr. Zangerl appreciates in his students applies to the faculty of the Communications & Media domain, too, as they create new degrees and new courses to stay in step with the rapidly changing professional world.