Interview with John Silbernagel, Director of Graduate Education

Tell me a little bit of background on yourself.
I am a native New Orleanian, born and raised here. I completed my undergraduate degree at LSU where I was a marketing major. I came to Tulane to attend the full-time MBA program. During my graduate studies, I worked in the admissions office. In my last semester, the person with whom I worked closely left and recommended me for her job. Even though I was on a finance path going through late-stage banking interviews, I really enjoyed what I was doing in the admissions office so I decided to stay. I thought I would work here for a few years but I celebrated my 25th anniversary at Tulane last June. Since I started working at Tulane, I have been able to do a lot of different things. I’ve worked in graduate admissions, undergraduate admissions, student services, financial aid, and now more program management and advising.
How long have you been in your current position?
I started the semester after Katrina so about 8 years.
What do you think is the most attractive think about Tulane to prospective students?
I think the smaller, high quality program that the Master of Accounting degree has to offer is unique. The opportunities that it provides are somewhat different than our other programs in that there is a very specific path that most students want to follow with the Big Four accounting firms. Our students do really well coming out of the Master of Accounting program. I also think that regardless of how the economy is doing, there is always demand for accountants, which draws some of our top students who are very smart and diligent, and have the characteristics that the firms seek.
What is your favorite thing about New Orleans?
As I said, I was born and raised here so I am definitely a die-hard New Orleanian. To me, New Orleans is unlike any other place. I have been fortunate to travel all over the world and it just always feels good to come back here. It is a very unique place with a strong culture, wonderful food, and great music. I love both Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. People in New Orleans have a strong desire to celebrate life and have a “work hard, play hard, and eat well” mentality.
What is the best advice you have ever been given pertaining to your career?
I think the most important advice I have received is just to enjoy what you do and hopefully to help others at the same time. I think that’s what’s great about working at Tulane. I have enjoyed working closely with students and being a part of their professional development.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally, enjoying my retirement! Practically speaking, I see myself continuing my career in academia, definitely at Tulane and in New Orleans.