ΦKΦ Member Spotlight

Marla Elsea
Mar 30, 2022

Richard "RJ" Podeschi grew up in Mattoon, Illinois, and now lives in nearby Decatur, where he serves as the dean of the Tabor School of Business at Millikin University. He earned a bachelor of science in management information systems as a James Millikin Scholar and holds a master of business administration from Millikin, as well as a master's degree in management information from the University of Illinois Springfield.

In addition to being a two-time graduate of Millikin, his time there has included teaching courses in database and security, working for more than a decade in various information technology positions, and his initiation into Phi Kappa Phi as a faculty member in 2017.

As avid runners, he and his wife, a Phi Kappa Phi chapter officer, started Penguin in the Park – a not-for-profit 5K run that raises funds for a Millikin scholarship and local youth athletic programs. He also gives back to his community by serving as a director at Staley Credit Union and in various leadership roles at his church.

Let's get to know RJ!

Why did you accept the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi?
My colleagues nominated me to join as a faculty member at Millikin in 2017. My wife is a Millikin chapter officer, and I barely missed the cut as an undergraduate, so I was familiar with the Society. Being associated with a professional organization that shares the value of lifelong learning was important to me, and I appreciate that membership recognizes scholastic achievement. I'm also grateful for the Love of Learning award that I received in 2017. It helped me research using Raspberry Pi computers for distributing processing tasks.

What is the best joke you have ever heard?
Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked.

What kind of music do you like?
I don't feel my tastes are incredibly unique, but they do cross over multiple genres. When I run or work out, I listen to classic rock, which unfortunately now includes the '80s. When I'm working, I stick to music without lyrics which ranges from classical favorites to Disney theme park music. When I want to relax, I go with jazz or folk music. I got into vinyl over the pandemic, so that's been a fun hobby.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The real satisfaction is when I get to witness students perform without my assistance or intervention. It's like giving a push to someone learning to ride a bicycle. They wobble a bit at first, but then they straighten out and keep pedaling.

Do you play any sports?
I played golf all through high school and part of college, and it's still a sport I play as often as I can with my parents. I got into running after my Millikin hall-of-famer wife convinced me to. I hated running as a kid but now consider it a great activity with many health benefits, and it helps to clear my mind. I'm also a huge tennis fan – Roger Federer, for those asking. I play a couple of times per week and enjoy the challenge of solving problems on the court.

What is your drink of choice?
Not going to lie; I'm a Northern California wine fan, Russian River Valley, to be specific.

If you had a boat, what would you name it?
Money Pit

What podcasts do you enjoy?
I sometimes listen to podcasts while mowing the lawn. I enjoy a variety of NPR-produced podcasts in addition to Reply All and Freakonomics Radio.

What do you value most about traveling?
I value the privilege of being able to travel domestically and internationally. I feel that being able to experience the United States and beyond provides an opportunity to be immersed in other cultures, actively learn history, and relax. Often, traveling revolves around a must-see or must-do list, but my favorite trips are the ones that include what I'll call in-the-moment experiences that aren't landmark-centric. It's about the simple things for me – an amazing farm-to-table meal in a small village in Italy, hiking through the Scottish Highlands in the rain or being in one of the thousands of European cathedrals when a choir or organist happens to be performing. It's the serendipitous moments that make a trip my favorite.

What three words would your colleagues use to describe you?
I like to think my colleagues would say I'm trustworthy, optimistic and kind.

To learn more about RJ and connect, visit his profile within our online member community, here.

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