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February 29, 2024

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Professor acclaimed

Sherry Sullivan never expected to find her theories discussed on blogs or at professional conferences or to read reviews about her book urging everyone to go out and buy it.

But after the release of “The Opt-Out Revolt: Why People Are Leaving Companies to Create Kaleidoscope Careers,” Sullivan, a management professor at the University, and her co-author Lisa Mainiero, have been highly acclaimed for their work.

The book, which analyzes people’s dissatisfaction with their corporate jobs, also offers solutions to improving employee satisfaction within the workplace.

“We had always planned on working on something. It was one of those things that you say you are going to do, but then things just keep coming up,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that she and Mainiero decided on a topic for their book when the material that they were teaching was not matching up to what was going on in real life.

Mainiero said that during the 25 years in academia, Sullivan was the best co-author she ever had.

“I would send her early drafts of chapters and she would work on them in revision, and we would work back and forth until we both felt we had communicated the information in a way that was accessible and correct,” she said. “She also spent all kinds of hours on the background research for the book.”

Madeline Crocitto, a friend and former co-author of Sullivan, said that anyone who has worked with or met Sullivan knows she is hard working, gracious and helpful.

Crocitto was organizing a symposium when the death of her father demanded that she go to Florida to handle the funeral arrangements.

“I had 10 speakers doing 10 different sections and I asked her, ‘What am I going to do? I can’t disappoint these people.’ She said don’t worry about it,” Crocitto said.

Sullivan finished organizing the symposium and never took any credit for the work that she did.

Mainiero believes it’s that same hard work and dedication that makes Sullivan an outstanding teacher.

In 2003 Sullivan was named the Reed Center’s Outstanding Educator, and in 2002 she received the Janet Chusmir Award Service Award.

“She is kind, generous, intelligent, always concerned about her students, and works hard in all aspects of her job, including her research and her teaching,” Mainiero said.

Sullivan, who started teaching at the University of Memphis, said she had been interested in teaching all her life.

“I enjoy it. You never know what you are going to get,” she said.

Sometimes she had pranksters, sometimes she would have students who were really interactive, and sometimes she had classes that were hard to keep interested in the material.

“Each class has a different personality and comes from a different background. When you go in, you get to know your students and how they relate to the material,” she said. “And how they reflect it back to you allows you to see it through their eyes and how they see it differently.”

Sullivan said that one of her favorite memories about her students happened while she was at the University of Memphis. Sullivan had three students who were in the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“There was one woman, she was the higher rank of the three, and the two guys sat in front of her. I asked one of the guys if he could give me an example of what I was talking about and he said he did not have an example,” she said.

The female officer then said, “Didn’t you do the assigned readings? Don’t you have even one example?”

Sullivan said the man almost shouted out, “Ma’am, no ma’am!”

“I am sorry ma’am they do not have examples for you, but let me provide you with an example,” the female officer said.

It was moments like this that showed Sullivan the type of personality that her class would have.

“Teachers like her are rare. I think Bowling Green is lucky to have her,” Mainiero said.

Sullivan is uncertain whether her future will hold authoring more books.

“When you finish a book there is so much time involved in writing that book, that the thought of another make makes me go ‘Ugh don’t even mention another book to me!'” she said.

Sullivan added that she plans to retire at the University.

“Bowling Green is lucky to have a teacher like her. She loves her students at Bowling Green, she treats them like they were her nieces or nephews,” Crocitto said.

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