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Before Casey Cegielski began encouraging college students to exercise their mental muscles, he displayed flex-worthy biceps, triceps, deltoids and abdominals as a competitive bodybuilder and personal trainer.
When he wasn’t chiseling his physique in rigorous workouts, he was sharpening his entrepreneurial skills and working his way through his undergraduate years of college by putting 20 to 30 personal training clients at a time through grunt-and-sweat sessions of their own. He has since learned that there are more than a few secrets to success in the gym that carry over into academia and business settings.
“Everything I learned at 15 years old about bodybuilding and everything I employed in competitive bodybuilding has enabled me to be successful,” said Cegielski, an associate professor of information systems management in the Department of Aviation and Supply Chain Management. “It’s discipline, it’s commitment, it’s work ethic, it’s knowing what you want, making a plan and following through.” That approach has served him well as a researcher, as a classroom instructor and as a mentor to countless students. As a result of his demonstrated excellence in those areas, Cegielski became one of two Auburn University faculty members selected for the 2013 Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The awards recognize full-time, tenured faculty members for “effective and innovative teaching methods and a continuing commitment to student success” as advisors and mentors. Cegielski, who joined the College of Business faculty in 2000, said he’s honored to be recognized in such a way. “It reinforces the idea that I’m doing the right thing with the right people at the right moment,” he said. “There’s something inherently rewarding in teaching people.” Cegielski’s multifaceted background helps him connect with students and to prepare them for their preferred industry settings. He began his career in public accounting, but adjusted his focus during the mid-1990s techno boom. “The auditing type of work led me to [information systems management],” he said. “At that time, in 1995, nobody really looked at auditing technology.” Cegielski’s current research interests include information security in cloud computing settings utilized by supply chain companies. He has written more than 30 research articles that have appeared in international information systems journals, but remains connected to industry trends through consulting work. “I really enjoy engaging with companies,” Cegielski said. “Our field changes so quickly that if I don’t do that, it’s impossible for me to prepare these kids for what they need tomorrow.”
As Cegielski sees it, one of his primary goals as a faculty member is to help get his students “off their parents’ payrolls.” “It’s about kick-starting them in a career with the knowledge they need to be successful,” he said. In other words, it’s personal training of a different sort – a process that challenges students and conditions them to be problem-solvers and difference-makers.