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Alumni Service Hall of Fame 2018 - 2019 Inductees

Dr. Carson and Iris Varner

Portrait of Dr. Carson and Iris Varner

Illinois State University

Iris I. Varner was born in Silesia, Germany. She and her family were expelled from their home at the end of WWII. She grew up near Dresden, Germany. After she had finished 8th grade, the family fled from East Germany to the West where she attended gymnasium, a university preparatory school.

She studied English and Physical Education. As part of her English program she studied in Reading, England for one semester where she met her future husband, Carson Varner. Iris Varner received her Staatsexamen (1967) and Assessorenexamen (1969) from Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet in Freiburg, Germany. She later earned a Masters in German (1972), MBA (1979), and Ph.D. (1975) from Oklahoma University. She taught business communication and international business at Illinois State University from 1976 until 2009. In 1979 she developed the course, Business in a Multicultural Environment. The course has been taught every semester since then and is a requirement for all International Business (IB) majors.

Iris gave lectures and taught as an adjunct professor at numerous foreign universities and partner schools, among them: ESSCA in Angers, France, University of Dresden, Germany, University of Lugano, Switzerland, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan, ICN in Nancy, France, and Shanghai University, China.

In 2000/2001 she was the President of the Association for Business Communication. In 1993 she was named Distinguished Teacher by the Association for Business Communication. She wrote the book, Business Report Writing and co-authored Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace which is used world-wide.

Carson H. Varner was born in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in Winnetka. He graduated from New Trier Township High School and earned an B.A. from Miami (OH) University and an M.A. from Northwestern University. He had a year study abroad at the University of London and Reading University, England. He then earned a Juris Doctor and an M.B.A. from Oklahoma University.

He has taught at Illinois State since 1975 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1984. Since 1982 he has taught the honors sections of the legal environment and ethics courses. In 1977 he developed and taught the interdisciplinary course “German for Business.” Both he and his colleague in foreign languages, Dr. Richard O. Whitcomb, were awarded Fulbright Scholarships for their work. Six student Fulbright Scholarships were awarded in the ten years the course was taught.

In 1978 he developed and has now taught for over 40 years International Business Law. From 1979 to 1984 he was advisor to over 40 students in contract majors and minors in international business. The first graduated in 1981.He has taught at the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird)) in Glendale, Arizona as well as partner schools in Angers, France and Paderborn, Germany.

The Varners were pioneers in developing international opportunities for students and in developing the IB major in 1984. In 1983 they established the first COB Study Abroad program in Angers, France and later developed study abroad programs with the University of Paderborn, Germany, ICN in Nancy, France, ITESM in Quaretero, Mexico, Bristol, England, and Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan. In 2008 contracts were signed for a dual degree program with the University of Paderborn. ISU business students can receive a bachelor degree from ISU and from Paderborn if they study for one year at Paderborn. Paderborn students can earn a masters from Paderborn and an MBA if they study at ISU for one year. Today, IB majors do internships all over the globe, and the graduates of the program work world-wide.

Iris Varner became the Director of the Program in 2001. Under her leadership the International Business Institute (IBI) was established in 2007. In 2018 the IBI was renamed The Carson and Iris Varner International Business Institute.