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Remembering Popular Professor Joan Zielinski

Memorial service Jan. 30 for teacher who had "special way with students"

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A memorial service for Northwestern University faculty member Joan Zielinski, whose oversubscribed classes were perpetual favorites among the Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program undergraduates she taught, will be held Wednesday, Jan. 30. It will take place at 4 p.m. at Alice Millar Chapel. A reception will follow.

“Joan had a special way with students,” said Kapnick Business Institutions Program (BIP) director Mark Witte. “She was extremely concerned for their welfare and went to great lengths to ensure that their Northwestern experience would help in their successful transition to life after graduation.”

Zielinski, who taught classes in sociology and marketing in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences as well as marketing at Kellogg School of Management, was regularly nominated for the Associated Student Government’s Faculty Honor Roll. Voted by the seniors of 2009 to deliver the “Last Lecture,” she shared her best wisdom about living life fully with that graduating class at a popular Chicago music venue.

Zielinski’s “intimate style of teaching made the material she taught relevant and so much fun to learn,” said BIP senior Corey Moss, who took sociology of organizations class last year. “She was not just a terrific teacher but a kind of mother figure who baked treats and had real rapport with her students. People took her classes simply because she taught them.”

Zielinski served as executive director of the New Jersey Lottery and taught marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business before joining the Northwestern faculty. She played a key role in developing BIP’s three-course series of marketing management, consumer behavior and marketing ideology.

Her commitment to her students was reflected in the energy she put into developing contemporary, engaging examples of the concepts she taught as well as the time she spent meeting with students outside the classroom, according to Alice Tybout, professor of marketing at Kellogg.

“It was the alchemy of theory and practice that made her such a spectacular teacher,” said 2009 alum Neal Sales-Griffin, who last year founded Starter League, a business that teaches software development. “She provided a whole new lens with which her students could look at the world. What I’m doing today is in large part the result of a way of thinking that she taught me.”


Zielinski’s strength was in making the subjects she taught “starkly relevant to her students and teaching them in a way that stayed with her students forever,” said BIP’s Witte. “Her good humor and positive attitude will be sorely missed,” added Tybout.

Zieliniski is survived by her husband, Dr. Peter A. Alsberg, and their two daughters, Marisa and Sasha. A resident of Lake Forrest, she died unexpectedly of a heart attack Dec. 13. For further information about the memorial service, call the Kapnick Business Institutions Program at (847) 491-2706.

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