Denise Schoenbachler

Endowed Professor in College of Business, Marketing

Denise Schoenbachler

What year did you start at NIU? 1992

Where is your hometown, and where do you reside now?
Franklin Park, N.J. Currently live in Monroe Center, Ill., on a farmette.

Which department do you teach in? Marketing in the College of Business.

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
University of Louisville, BSBA in Finance and Management and MBA; University of Kentucky, Ph.D. in Marketing.

Were you ever undecided, and/or did you change majors?
I knew I wanted business and started with management. Then, my first finance class shifted that interest. I found marketing as an interest later in my MBA and decided I wanted a career in academia.

What advice would you give to students either just starting their college journey or currently attending NIU? 
Try different things while you are here. NIU has so much to offer in terms of classes, activities, clubs, sports, etc. And, be patient with yourself in finding your major or your passion/interest. Most of us did not know what we wanted to do when we were 18 to 20 years old.

What do you like about working at NIU?
From the very beginning, I fell in love with the students here and the opportunities I have as a professor and have had as an administrator to make a difference in their lives—a real difference. I love the work ethic, the intelligence, the passion these students have. And, I have the best colleagues in the College of Business who truly believe in what they do, and they work hard for the students. Being surrounded by young people is so energizing!

Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
Currently, I am working on research on women in academia — specifically, challenges they face with student perceptions and expectations — and I am working on a project exploring career progression for women in academia. In addition to this being my research interests, I advised a summer research project on the topic for a graduate student, and I’m currently working with another graduate student on this topic for her capstone project.

What do you hope students take away from your class?
I want my students to not only learn marketing strategy theory and concepts, but how to think strategically about problems, how to build strategy and implement it. I want them to learn to really think broadly and critically about issues. I use a lot of case studies for this reason.

What is your favorite campus event?
I love the annual Presidential Commission on the Status of Women Outstanding Student Awards ceremony held each year on Honors Day. The stories of these amazing women students are just so inspiring, and it is a beautiful day.

What’s the most important thing you could tell a prospective student about NIU?
NIU is a big school with an even bigger heart. You can have so many opportunities here, and you will find caring, supportive faculty and staff. I’ve heard time and time again of students who started someplace else and transferred to NIU, and then couldn’t believe how wonderful it is here.

Who has influenced your professional path?
My mentors here were David Graf and Dennis and Stacey Barsema. They encouraged me to become an academic leader and then helped and supported me along the way. When I decided to return to the classroom, they were the first people I went to for advice. My colleagues have influenced me as well. They motivate, critique and push me.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
Well, for some time, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, all through high school I wanted to be a secretary. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I decided I wanted to go to college and study international business and do foreign relations. I’m not doing any of those today!

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am a 4-H volunteer and have been for 20 years.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I have a horse and love to ride, and several other pets all bring peace. I love flower gardening and reading. And I just took up playing the violin through NIU’s Community School of the Arts.


Denise Schoenbachler is the Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Professor in Business for the College of Business.

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