UTSA professor tells of hip-hop past

Her high school classmates back in Rexburg, Idaho, would remember her as an outcast. But the punk rocker matured into UTSA’s Pepe Lee Chang, assistant professor of business ethics in the College of Business Department of Management.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Utah. She put her marketing degree to work in numerous jobs including Grammercy Films, a radio station and recording artist management.

But Chang knew she didn’t want to give away 8-10 hours of her day to someone else doing work that was meaningless. Chang had enjoyed a course in philosophy, and after a few more courses, she was hooked and on her life’s path.

Along the way, however, Chang was sidetracked by music. She “accidentally” became half a Utah hip-hop duo, Furthermore. First under contract to Tooth and Nail Records, then signed by Universal Records, she left grad school for a year and went on tour with numerous indie punk rock bands.

Tooth and Nail Records released two CDs, “Fluorescent Jellyfish” in 1999 and “She and I” in 2003. The single “Letter to Myself” was signed by Universal Records. She calls her music “electronic indie hip-hop.”

After her short-lived music career, Chang returned to grad school. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Utah in 2007.

She went on the management and philosophy job markets, and eventually received job offers from both markets. She was immediately drawn to UTSA, however, because of its energy and enthusiasm for the future. She joined the faculty in fall 2007, and is excited about the direction of the department and its potential for growth.

Among her areas of specialization are business ethics, healthcare and medical ethics, moral philosophy and ethics, and the German philosopher Nietzsche.

Chang talked about the current economic crisis and what she called the myth of the free market. She explained that the free market assumes that businesses will act in their own self-interest.

Her research is theoretical. Philosophers are in the business of finding truths about the world. According to Chang, many beliefs that people take for granted need further investigation to determine if those beliefs are actually justified. As an example, she cited the movie “The Matrix,” where the point was to show that the reality we all take for granted can easily be doubted.

One thing that is real is that Chang’s students will have an excellent foundation in ethics that will set the stage for the rest of their lives.