Business executive backs into graduate education

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Jim Rumple isn't a conventional business student. Nor is he a conventional businessman.

"When I was young, I felt that who you worked for was more important than what you did," he said.

That isn't a common sentiment these days, but at 57, and as vice president of imaging and manufacturing for LexisNexis's California, Md., lab, Rumple still feels the same way. He always wanted to work in the academic field, and considers himself fortunate to have worked with good people in a good industry.

Now, as an upper-management businessman, Rumple is enrolled in Norwich University College of Graduate and Continuing Studies' (CGCS) Master of Business Administration program.

Rumple has always approached education in an unconventional - some might say backward - fashion. As an example, he earned his bachelor's degree in 1992 after 20 years of night classes. Many people get an education with the intention of applying it to their career. Rumple's career is well-established, and he uses education to fill in the gaps.

While his own formal education took a roundabout path, as a businessman Rumple has been on the forefront of education technology his entire career. He started off in the shipping department of University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI) - now ProQuest - in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company that specializes in archiving dissertations, periodicals and newspapers on microfilm and digital media.

In 30 years, he advanced to operations manager of advanced document manufacturing, where he worked on digitally archiving periodicals. In 1999, he accepted an executive position at LexisNexis, a leading provider of online media archiving, where his team just wrapped up the process of digitizing 25 million pages for the LexisNexis Congressional Hearings Digital collection, dating back to 1824.

Academic archiving has given Rumple a unique perspective on the way technology impacts education — especially online education such as his own business administration program.

"When I first joined UMI, microfilm was technology," he said. Microfilm was cutting edge at the time, and carried connotations of James Bond and secret messages. Then, computers and videotape appeared and microfilm became "old" technology.

Now, in addition to archiving on microfilm, LexisNexis archives their congressional and historic collections digitally.

"The velocity at which technology changes is mind boggling," Rumple said.

Throughout his career, Rumple was responsible for archiving resources that students use for research. As a student, Rumple himself now uses ProQuest and LexisNexis Academic - resources he helped to create.

"Formerly, it was like working at a candy factory without ever being able to sample the product," Rumple said.

He expects online education to be a growing trend in the future. Being in the business administration program provides a unique opportunity for him to connect with end users and provide feedback for his job. This helps LexisNexis serve the educational community better.

"It is important to keep up with technology, use it, but remember what it is you are trying to accomplish. I've seen companies jump on a technology bandwagon and get themselves in trouble," he said. "It's important to keep your mission in mind."

He sees that mission as not only putting information in front of students, but actually becoming a part of the workflow in the process of researching and learning. It's a mission he enjoys carrying out.

"Of all the careers or career paths I could have chosen, I guess I got lucky," he said.