Students Step Up to the Plate for this Final Exam

After seeing her 22 students throughout 10 weeks of class, University of Cincinnati associate professor Linda Ginter Brown figures she won't recognize many of them come Dec. 4.

That's because the students, all enrolled in technology-related majors in UC's College of Applied Science (CAS), must dress formally, demonstrate outstanding quality of conversation as well as impeccable dining skills and comportment during their final exam at Cincinnati's newest French restaurant, Jean-Robert at Pigall's, 127 W. Fourth St.

Said Ginter Brown, head of the CAS Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies Department, "I told them, 'If you show up in Reeboks, I will kill you on the spot.'"

Her light-hearted threat, while humorous food for thought and, only possibly, a worse fate than a failing grade, masks the more serious aims of her course titled "Global Civility."  It's a course on business etiquette and international protocol that requires the students to research and write on proper professional conduct around the world as well as learn how to plan an event right down to the correct toast and proper seating arrangements of differing cultures.

"It's to give them a competitive edge.  They're so used to eating fast food.  They're used to walking into class with their baseball caps on backwards.  We're a strong technical college, and while students have confidence in themselves in terms of doing the actual work, they don't necessarily have the social background for the global market," explained Ginter Brown, who is certified by the International School of Protocol.  The school was originally founded to instruct diplomats but is now open to business professionals as well.

She offered the "Global Civility" course for the first time last fall.  Thirteen students signed up.  This fall marks the second course, and 22 students enrolled, including students from CAS' mechanical engineering, information engineering technology, construction science, architectural engineering and electrical engineering programs.  Last year's final at The Palace restaurant served up a surprise for Ginter Brown.  "It's true.  They walked in, and I didn't even recognize my own students.  They were transformed," she recalled.

The most important lesson of the course, according to Ginter Brown, is that "civility is about respect, not 'being agreeable.'  You can strongly disagree with someone but still conduct yourself with civility.  It's about learning what it means to be a true professional."

Construction management senior Tangela Stephens of Finneytown agreed.  She originally took the course to explore the line between professionalism and a more casual attitude.  Said Stephens,  "I consider myself professional, but I'm out in the field on construction sites.  I'm in the mud.  It's grungy.  So, for me, professionalism has to be about more than how you look.  I can't look the look or even always be clean.  But, I can still be professional.  I'm learning that attitude, manners, how I carry myself are just as important as the technical knowledge that I have....especially for work abroad.  Knowing your field is key, but culturally correct etiquette can take you to the next level."

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Gloria Samuel entered the construction industry more than 20 years ago as a University of Cincinnati co-op student and never looked back. Since then, she has earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at UC and has taken great pride in giving back to the college by sharing her education and experiences with others as an adjunct faculty and serving on numerous community boards and committees. Currently, she is the Senior Vice President and Director of Construction Program and Project Management for Fifth Third Bank.

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