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Inside / Out

Q/A with a Valpo Professor – Elizabeth Gingerich, J.D.

Winter 2019
Elizabeth Gingerich
The Louis S. and Mary L. Morgal
Chair of Christian Business Ethics
College of Business

Professor Elizabeth Gingerich, a Valparaiso native who also spent some of her childhood in Chicago, currently teaches business law to undergraduates and international gover-nance and ethics in the MBA program. For 18 years, students at Valpo have benefited from her hands-on teaching style and from her legal background. A practicing lawyer for 38 years, Professor Gingerich’s areas of expertise include small businesses, contracts, estates, tax, and civil litigation. She also serves as the editor in chief of the Journal of Values-Based Leadership, a pub-lication from Valpo’s College of Business. A passionate advocate for mitigating the forces of climate change, Professor Gingerich keeps herself equally as busy off campus — wood-working, gardening, painting, and spending time with her one-year-old grandson.

You’ve worked extensively as an attorney and as a professor. What are some of the similarities and differences between these two roles?

I always say that there are many similarities between the classroom and courtroom. In both settings, to hold interest and to deliver the best product, one must be fluent in the subject taught to secure the attention of your students and to present the best possible case for your clients.
On a humorous note, a basic difference between the two is that you can overrule the objections in the classroom! Additionally, having the “client” (i.e., former students) continue as a “client” for decades and having continual positive and uplifting feedback from current and former students means you are perpetually sharpening the tools of your game.

What have you found most rewarding about being in the classroom?

The most rewarding experience is when students raise their hands and demonstrate they are engaged. Typically, every session that meets results in a certain amount of stimulating dialogue.
But giving students a chance to see outside of the classroom what they are learning inside the classroom is also gratifying. Beginning in the fall of 2013, my Introduction to Business class — numbering close to 60 students — incorporated our-selves into a business. Our name was BECO Incorporated. We purchased Bagasse Food Containers in lieu of white styrofoam and partnered with several Valparaiso-area restaurants to entice customers to use this biodegradable alternative. It was so successful that we received two invitations for private funding to continue.

You’re the editor in chief of the Journal of Values-Based Leadership. What can you tell us about that publication?

In 2007, I was approached by our then-dean Tom Boyt to spear-head what was just a concept to highlight ethics in business, government, and academics. Each issue features an interview with a prominent individual in those fields. Featured individuals and companies have included Ray Anderson of Interface Global; Mary Polack, the Minister of Environment in British Columbia, Canada; IBM; and Whole Foods. Our 22nd issue was published in June 2018. Visit to view the digital collection.

The word is that you have some strong University ties. Can you say more?

I’m fourth-generation at Valpo. The University’s first president after it became Lutheran in the 1920s was William H.T. Dau, Ph.D., my great-grandfather. My uncle, Robert Bertram, Ph.D., served as the head of the combined theology and philosophy departments in the 1950s. My father, Walter Reiner, was hired in the late 1940s as assistant football coach and later went on to develop the school’s urban studies program in Chicago. My mother, Lois Reiner, taught English, and my daughter completed her MBA here. Valpo is simply part of our DNA.

Being so familiar with the area must mean you have some inside knowledge. What’s the best way to get around town?

I emphasize walking to my students! I live only a few blocks off campus in a 100-year-old home. This is a neighborhood I cherished as a child, and now it gives me the luxury of walking almost everywhere — to the office, to classes, to meetings, and to the downtown area where restaurants, City Hall, and the courthouse are all within a navigable distance.

More from the Winter 2019 Issue