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PROFILE: Emphasis on Fairness Leads to Egg-cellence

Date: Nov. 6, 2000
By: Carey Hoffman

Video special
Channel 9 Replay: 5 p.m. Sunday Jan. 14, 2001
Watch a replay of the Channel 9 Web cast
Get RealPlayer 8 to watch the Web cast.

The following is a profile of a UC faculty member featured in the Channel 9 special "One Day: University of Cincinnati." Find out about other featured students and faculty at

Suzanne Masterson

Suzanne Masterson considers teaching "Managerial Effectiveness" one of the most rewarding classroom experiences she has had in her three years at UC. "It is such a fun class to teach. You really get to know the students very well," Masterson says. "Several of them let me know that it was one of the best classes they took. They really get a lot out of the class, because it is such a hands-on experience."

Masterson challenges her students with a final exercise in teamwork and ingenuity -- an egg drop competition that comes as a complete surprise the day of the contest. Her students work in pre-established learning teams. After arriving for class, each team gets a box of plastic straws and tape and 30 minutes to devise a product that can protect an egg during a drop of up to three stories.

The students must then make a short presentation about their product to the class. Finally, they find out just how good their product is by dropping their eggs in the Lindner Hall atrium. "All three eggs survived the one-story drop," Masterson said. "But by the time we got to the top floor, only one survived that three-story drop."

egg drop team

Afterwards, the class went through a debriefing session, where students examined what happened during the exercise in light of the management principles they had learned over the entire quarter. You can be sure Masterson told them it was a fair test of their talents. Masterson, an assistant professor of management, teaches organizational behavior and human resource management and has a strong research interest in the subject of fairness.

A native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Masterson was interested in studying total quality management when she began pursuing her doctorate at the University of Maryland. "But one of my professors early on was doing a study on performance appraisal fairness, and it just resonated with me.I guess I am a person who is motivated by fairness, so I jumped on board and ran with it."

Masterson is currently working on one study that looks at how different communication mediums within organizations have different fairness implications. A second study is examining fairness issues for non-traditional workers.

"I try to build fairness into all of the things I do," Masterson says. "When I talk to my students at the beginning of the quarter, I tell them, 'If you think something in this class is not fair, I want to hear about it because it is one of my hot button issues.' "

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