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Rudebock Recreates Career To Teach And Serve

March 3, 2003

He overheard his business students groaning about the "one-eyed green monster" course last year, so he enrolled to see what all the fuss was about.

This logic makes perfect sense to Rudebock, a second-year assistant professor of management. We've only got so much time, he says, and we've got a lot of learning and serving to do.

Another motivation for taking the class was the chance to get to know 35 more students. Rudebock calculates he already knows a quarter of the sophomore class. And he's looking for ways to get to know more of them.

That's why he gets excited about a stack of papers he has to take home and grade over a holiday. They are the third chapter of his students' four-chapter individual development plan assignment, the capstone of his business seminar course. While the other chapters describe their background, their personality, and how they plan to meet their goals, this one tells where students think they are headed.

Rudebock sees grading papers as another window into students' minds. He's just privileged enough to peek.

He can pull out his own individual development plan he completed in graduate school and show you how he's right where he said he'd be. This is not coincidental, he claims. It's a "God wink" as a popular Christian book terms it. Rudebock notices a lot of these moments when he says God smiles and says, "I told you so."

"Every time I get to sit down with a student, it's a 'God wink,'" he said. "It's such an honor to have a part in guiding their lives like that."

Meeting his wife was a wink, he said. And so was getting a job at OBU. The first time he ever picked up the Chronicle of Higher Education was the single issue in which OBU listed an advertisement for his position.

"Sometimes walking across campus, I think 'I just can't believe they pay me to do this,'" he said.

The fact that he's a professor after spending almost 30 years in sales and management is ironic too, he added.

A native of Ohio, Rudebock graduated from Kent State University in 1974, where he worked his way through college in food service. After graduating, he served as manager of dining halls at State University of New York at Owsego, Texas Tech University, Alfred University, and a nursing home and hospital. He later made a natural transition to sales for food service distributors.

He got his first taste of teaching during that period, as an avocational instructor for Dale Carnegie Courses and Training Systems. He later would go full-time with the company as a training consultant.

The dream of teaching had always been there, he said. To most people, the age he started back to school would seem too late in life to earn a doctorate. But he knew it was the right path.

He remembers being nervous for his first class at Oklahoma State University after being out of school all those years. He had no idea if he could compete at that level, he said. Walking back to his car after the class, he felt confident.

"I can do this," he said to himself.

He wants his students to have the same confidence in themselves.

"I try to set the stage the first day," he said. "If they can walk out of my class saying, 'I can do this class,' then I've done my job."

In addition to business seminar and business ethics courses, Rudebock also directs OBU's co-op internship program.

"I try to work with students on things I expect from them as an employer," he said.

His more than 20 years teaching with the Dale Carnegie program has shaped his classroom style.

"I really feel like it's made me a stronger classroom instructor here," he said. "My style is more facilitative and student-involved than a straight lecture."

Out of all his activities, his dedication to service has brought him the most recognition recently.

In 2002, he was the recipient of Oklahoma's Clyde Benn Service to Youth Award, presented by Youth Leadership Exchange and Leadership Oklahoma City. He also was a finalist for a Heartland Award, from the Volunteer Center of Central Oklahoma.

He is a 14-year veteran volunteer at the Contact Crisis Help Center in Oklahoma City, donating hours each month to answer phones and serve on committees. He's also active in the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. He takes several OBU students with him to the organization's monthly luncheons.

At one point in his career, he was struck by how much he took from the world around him and he was moved to reciprocate.

"I really felt like it was time to give something back to the com-munity," he said. "I was raised to do that, but I got out of the habit.

"These students are going to be better educated than 90 percent of people they will come into contact with," he said. "They need to be giving something back."