20 Under 40 Q&A: Jennifer WebbAssociate professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth
Get to know Jennifer Webb
Occupation: Associate professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
What do you actually do? I teach art history classes in the department of art and design. My research focuses on the history of Renaissance Art in Italy, but I also teach courses exploring the history of urban planning as well as ancient and baroque art and architecture. I also advise students.
Years in your job: 6
Education: Honors bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan; master’s and doctorate from Bryn Mawr College.
Family: Husband and two cats.
Community involvement: I’m a member of the Junior League of Duluth, a women’s volunteer organization that not only promotes volunteerism in the community but trains women to develop new skills and to be leaders. Not only does the Junior League of Duluth organize their own projects but we assist other groups as well.
What brought you to the Twin Ports?
I moved to Duluth in summer 2006 to teach at UMD.
What do you like to do during your free time?
Hiking or going for walks with my husband, swimming, snowshoeing, pilates, reading, volunteering and spending time with my amazing friends. I also love to watch football and soccer on TV and in person.
Describe your favorite place in the Twin Ports.
The Kingsburg creek trails behind the Lake Superior Zoo. It’s a beautiful place to walk in any season but especially on snowshoes when the waterfall is partially frozen and it is snowing.
What do you like most about the Northland?
The people. I have the most amazing colleagues at UMD. They are smart, completely devoted to teaching and to research as well as tremendously supportive. Through the Junior League of Duluth, I’ve met a group of women who not only inspire me to do more but who I admire for their intelligence, humor, perseverance and vision.
How can the Northland retain younger people?
As a joke, I’d say a Chipotle. But this question is really important for the Northland’s future. We are lucky to have the natural resources and outdoor opportunities that more and more people crave. To take advantage of the region’s strengths, the right kinds of jobs are critical and we need more affordable rental housing in safe and walkable neighborhoods.
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
Travel with my family when I was young and with my husband and others much more recently. I’m lucky that I get to “take” my students to interesting places all over the world in my lectures. This is one of the reasons that I love my job so much. Nothing, however, can compare with being in a city, eating the food, visiting museums and hiking through the countryside. My brother and I were very lucky because that’s what we did as children. Those trips (near and far) changed my life. I learned so much from my parents (both teachers).
What are you most passionate about?
Curiosity: I always want to learn more, meet someone new and discover something I’ve never known. This is what I want for my students as well; I want them to ask questions, to travel the world and to be life-long learners.
How have social and business networking sites changed your life?
None of the networking sites have changed my life. My best connections have been made the old-fashioned way, in person.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Knowing what and who make me happy.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?
I resist goal setting and refuse to make New Year’s resolutions. My goals for the next 5-10 years aren’t different from the ones I live by every day: At the end of every day, I want to feel that I invested all of my energy and passion into my work, my personal life and my community.
What advice would you give other young people?
People attach too much of their identity to their career, and happiness is almost always equated with success and professional advancement. The Northland community is very small and there are lots of opportunities hidden in unexpected places; “network” as much as you can and “build” your ideal career.