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The Poetry of Business

August 1, 2021
Jim Warner, COB Content Developer

Jim Warner is the College of Business’s “man behind the curtain.” He’s part of the team responsible for developing the voice the College generates; establishing it as a credible, respected institution for students and employees alike. It’s not just Jim’s technical skills that have contributed to this voice though; his passion and dedication ensure everyone has a seat at the table. It’s this dedication that earned him a Cardinal Spirit Award.

“There should be a reason for everything that’s there on the page—even down to a microscopic level.” Jim says this while discussing his background in teaching MFA students how to develop their writing style and how all writing choices matter. It’s an apt quote from him though, as it doesn’t just apply to his writing skills, but his passions and connections to the University of Louisville.

Composing the Voice

As the College’s Coordinator of Publications and Marketing, Jim is responsible for drafting or editing nearly any piece of print or digital media the College produces, but it doesn’t stop there. “I think I’m the department’s Swiss Army Knife. It’s enough knowledge to be dangerous, maybe enough to be competent,” he jokes. “It’s everything from writing…to web design, to voice-over commercials, and producing podcasts.”

He joined the College in 2018 after relocating to Louisville when his wife was accepted into a PhD program in Rhetoric and Composition at UofL (as he says, “I follow the talent”). Jim brought with him years of creative experience, having earned an MFA from Wilkes University. He utilized his education to teach, did editing and production work in Philadelphia, managed an international literary magazine, and worked with an NPR affiliate. Jim’s a published writer, and as staff and faculty have witnessed during monthly meetings, an accomplished poet. A vast career in liberal arts brought a recognizable strength to his current position.

“Understanding voice and the economy of language comes from poetry in particular. It’s seeing those skills as transferable,” he explains. “Being a poet in the College of Business—well, I think for both sides, we’re saying ‘This isn’t what we were expecting, but it’s working.’”

Writing Opportunities

Jim’s understanding of the College’s voice isn’t just from technical experience; it’s also born from a very personal choice to lead in the areas he feels needed. He’s co-chair of the College Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee and is the Communications Chair for UofL’s Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality (CODRE). In both spaces, he’s committed to making impactful change. “I’m a builder. I’ve helped create those spaces because growing up, I didn’t always have access to them,” he says.

Reading circles have been a tool the university has utilized to help faculty, staff, and students in understanding and supporting an anti-racist agenda. For Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist, Jim stepped up to the plate to facilitate a difficult conversation for readers. His tactful and caring approach in this setting is what earned him his Cardinal Spirit Award.

“During one of our Friday sessions where we were talking about issues, Jim started to open up to everyone about his experiences, as someone who can be sometimes perceived as an invisible member of a community. I saw it as a really important moment in opening up and stepping into a leadership role in leading one of the circles,” says Dr. Andrew Wright, Assistant Professor in Information Systems, Analytics, and Operations and Director of Learning Initiatives in the Digital Transformation Center at the College of Business.

Drafting Confidence

Having previously served as the faculty co-chair on the D&I Committee, Dr. Wright understood the gravity of Jim’s choice to lead and share in this circle. “His deftness at handling the facilitation role…I understand how difficult it is to lead those conversations carefully, diplomatically, but honestly. In that way, I was so happy to see him growing into his comfort in being able to share those aspects about his journey that people didn’t understand and really embodied that Cardinal spirit.”

Jim’s presence and talent are felt by co-workers and co-committee chairs alike, who are grateful to have his voice. He is honored by the award and promises to continue leading in these spaces where he’s needed. “I feel like I am an ambassador for the College in what I do. There’s a responsibility to that; to demonstrate that this is what the College of Business looks like. I want to further that narrative. An award like [the Cardinal Spirit], it’s validation.”