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Professor John Overbeck

by Tyler Russell

Professor John Overbeck

Professor John Overbeck

Professor John Overbeck worked in a number of executive positions for IBM for more than 30 years. He was even the managing director for the Ford Motor Company. He returned to his alma mater in January 2009. “Going from overseeing management teams that could include 700 people to teaching classes of undergraduate students was quite the culture shock,” Overbeck says.  
Overbeck always wants to exceed expectations. Therefore, he was a little nervous when   beginning the challenge of teaching for the first time.
After being selected as one of Niagara University’s most intriguing professors, one could say he’s met that challenge. Overbeck, who currently teaches sales communications and principles of marketing, has an interesting approach to his interactive teaching style — theater.
He’s created a theater workshop, to be more specific. His goal is to have students stand on their own two feet literally.
“The techniques used to ease and loosen up actors before a performance can also be used to head a business meeting or give a public speech,” Overbeck says. “Students who are tense sound tense, and so the workshop is intended to get them feeling comfortable — able to address a room with confidence.”
Though he does not have extensive knowledge or practice of theater, Overbeck offers invaluable real world experience, stemming from his previous time involved with Wal-Mart and Wall Street.
“I can give a first-hand perspective and like I tell my students, ‘The sale doesn’t even start until someone says no,’” Overbeck says.
Like many other well-liked educators, Overbeck stresses the importance of interactive learning. He refers to this approach as “learn by doing.”
“There is only so much you can learn from a textbook without putting that knowledge into practice,” Overbeck says.
The ability market oneself and network among peers is also very important Overbeck says. After all, NU’s own Brother Augustine was instrumental in Overbeck’s opportunity to teach at NU.
Since returning, Overbeck has quietly carved a name for himself among the NU faculty and his students. To him, that’s what makes it all worth it.
“The growth in education and personal maturity from a sophomore to a senior is truly incredible, and the thought that I play a part in that transformation is something I will forever cherish,” he says.

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