Office artifact: GSB’s Sarah Soule and her refrigerator whiteboard


Sarah Soule demonstrates a correlation coefficient on her refrigerator whiteboard, much to the consternation of cat Lorraine.

SARAH SOULE, the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, has been using her refrigerator during Zoom conferences as a whiteboard, much to the confusion of her car, Lorraine.

Soule recently shared her story with STEVE HAWK, senior editor at the Graduate School of Business, in a highly amusing article about how she is teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, “My husband is a middle-school math teacher, and now that we’re both teaching from home, he was trying to solve the whiteboard issue. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘You know what? The refrigerator might work.’ And now we’re both using it.

“When I’m going into a Zoom conference, I say to my husband and son, ‘OK, I’m going to be on the whiteboard from 10 to 11, so that means you should get your food before or after that, because you can’t come in and open the fridge.’ Lorraine, the cat, doesn’t have any such rules. She’s always meddling in my Zoom calls.”

Soule said that, in many ways, she feels closer to her students now than when they met in more traditional locations, like classrooms, partly because they see into one another’s homes.

“Right now, I mostly work with PhD students, and traditionally it’s not part of the culture to spend a lot of time with them out of the office. There may be a barbecue or happy hour once a term, but that’s about it. Now we’re having more social time, even if it’s virtual.

“Teaching remotely is also forcing us to break up our material into bite-size pieces. Before the pandemic hit, PhD seminars were run exactly as they’d always been run: You go in a seminar room for three hours with no break. Oh my gosh — three hours on Zoom would be horrible. So this is making us rethink how we do PhD training and mentoring.

“I did have a student ask me to open the refrigerator so they could look inside. This was sort of funny, because you can tell a lot about a person’s lifestyle by simply looking at the contents of their fridge.”

Read more about Soule’s refrigerator on the Graduate School of Business website.