Name: Janis Prewitt Auner
Title: Associate Professor of Management
Courses Taught: Business Law and Ethics, Commercial Law and Ethics, The Legal Environment of Business, Human Resource Management, Corporate Policy & Ethics, Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics (MBA), Innovation (MBA), Negotiation (MBA)
I received my BA in Economics and J.D. from the University of Missouri. After graduating, I was hired by the largest (at that time) law firm in Springfield: Woolsey, Fisher, Whiteaker and McDonald. My law practice initially began concentrating on product liability defense cases representing such clients as Emerson Electric and Baxter Healthcare. My practice then moved into employment law because I defended a large corporate client in a gender discrimination case and found that I enjoyed that area of the law. I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in those cases. Although I concentrate in the area of employment law, I have practiced in most areas of the law except criminal defense. (When I was in law school, I interned at the State Public Defender's office and while I learned much, I decided going to the jails and prisons was not a good fit for me). I was very lucky that Missouri State University called me one day and asked if I would teach a night class in Legal Research and Writing for them, I accepted the offer-it was just once a week, at night—then they asked me to teach more until I became full time—but the luck really was with me when the then director of the Breech School called me and asked me to apply as they were to open a full time law professor position. I continue to consult in business and employment law now but my main focus is teaching.
My research concentrates in current areas of the law. I stay abreast of the large legal cases and tend to write in those areas, however, I have joined colleagues in writing case studies that sometimes do not focus on the law but more in the area of ethics.
Growing up, my father was a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals. Dad has a tremendous respect for the law and the legal profession—when it is proper and when it's members are acting properly—that respect rubbed off on me—there are good laws and good lawyers. I try to instill that in my students while also explaining some legal history and foundations. A judge's role is to teach so I grew up learning the law—I used to spend hours on cases with my dad when I was in high school—I could do legal research before I even went to law school!
My husband, Tom Auner, is also an attorney. I have two children, one, TJ, just was graduated from the University of Southern California and is planning to attend law school. My daughter, Katy, is a sophomore at Drury and is pre-veterinary medicine.
How does the Breech School of Business prepare students for their professional careers?
Because of the small class size and close community that is Breech, the students do not go unnoticed, we communicate with each and every student—they learn what we are teaching because we make sure of it. We also receive feedback from the employers when our student's complete their internship so we know that they are acting professionally and ethically.
The Breech School of Business is also a close community, and I believe that students benefit from the mixing of disciplines, backgrounds, and interests. We teach a respect for all the business disciplines, and that problems and opportunities do not generally appear neatly packaged in one discipline or area of study. We encourage our students to use a variety of analytical and theoretical tools and perspectives.
Do you have any favorite memories inside the Breech building?
I don't think that I could pick a favorite memory, however, there is not a day that goes by that something good isn't happening at Breech whether it is listening to Dr. Rohlf yell, "Is everybody happy?" or seeing the students huddled together in the Breech lounge watching the World Cup—there is always something good happening at Breech.
What advice would you offer to a new student beginning their course of study in the Breech School of Business?
Pay attention early in your career in order to be able to have time to take as many business courses but also multi-disciplinary courses as well. A good business needs a good leader and a good leader needs to understand more then just business but people and relationships. Breech and Drury will prepare students for such a role if the student takes advantage of what we offer from the time that they are a first year college student.