News & Updates

The business of writing

At a time in his life where many people sit back, relax and enjoy their retirement, Bob DeGise used his free time to start a new career.

After retiring from his job as a writer at Caterpillar in 1988, DeGise began teaching business writing at Bradley University part time - an experiment that has turned into a 20-year relationship with the University. Since being hired as a part-time instructor, DeGise has taught English 306, "Advanced Writing - Business Communication," to more than 2,000 students.  But his teaching and business insights haven't been the only gifts he has given to his students and the University.

In 1997, Bob made a gift of 1,000 shares of Caterpillar stock to the University for the Department of English. Even in the midst of last year's economic downturn, that gift remained twice its initial value.  His endowed gift has been used by the English Department to fund conference travel for students and faculty.  His funds have also been able to provide the department with software and other support for instruction in professional writing and in web writing.

"The attention and dedication that Mr. DeGise gives to his business writing course has completely exceeded my expectations," said senior Finance major Kyle O'Herron, a member of DeGise's current English 306 class.  "I know his real-world knowledge and special tips will help me succeed in the business world when I graduate in May.  He presents the course with a strong common sense approach, that has made it one of the most effective courses I've taken."

DeGise's students aren't the only ones in admiration of his hard work and dedication.

"He teaches that course with a special emphasis on business preparation, not simply in terms of how to craft clear and efficient texts, but also how one communicates as a professional in non-verbal ways," said Dr. Robert Prescott, the chairperson of the English department.  "From the first, and to this day, his students have responded with deep appreciation of the special insights he brings to his teaching from his years as a professional writer in a Fortune 50 company.  They also will tell you about his kindness as a teacher and about the many ways he encourages them to grow as writers."

DeGise, a former Marine who served at Iwo Jima during World War II, was recently recognized for his generosity and service to students by the Department of English with a commemorative plaque that will officially name an office in his honor. In addition, the Department announced that it would begin a renewed "DeGise Professional Writing Award" in January.

"This new approach will solicit entries not just from ENG 306 and 305 students, but from all the students in the University," Prescott said. "As Bob has said many times, the most important skill students will take away from college is their ability to write well."