News from Gies College of Business
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Gies community rises to the challenge


Throughout this challenging academic year, we've been inspired by the patience and resilience of our entire Gies Business family. The people that make up Gies - students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our broader community - have made us all proud.

As we prepare for the Fall 2021 semester, Gies Business is fully prepared and committed to return to normal levels of face-to-face teaching. Although Gies delivers online education exceptionally well, we recognize the importance of face-to-face instruction for our residential undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition to the value that face-to-face instruction creates for learning outcomes, we also recognize the importance of in-person classes for developing social networks, friendships, and relationships with faculty and fellow students.

Given the outstanding testing protocols in place on campus, the rapid expansion of vaccinations, and our other safety protocols on campus, we are very optimistic about our ability to provide normal levels of in-person education for the fall semester.

Remote teaching
 From left: Gies professors like Sonali Shah, Larry DeBrock, and Aravinda Garimella went above and beyond in creating an engaging virtual experience for students
 Josh Whitman
 Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman

The Gies Business Alumni Association and Gies Business invite you to join us for a virtual Spring Luncheon, featuring keynote speaker Josh Whitman '00, Director of Athletics for the University of Illinois. Whitman’s “We Will Win” mantra and message of unity, optimism, and bold action have rekindled the fire in the hearts of Illini fans everywhere.

Friday, April 23, 2021
12:30-1:30 pm

 Individual registration deadline is April 16, 2021

During the program, we will recognize distinguished faculty and alumni with the Excellence-in-Teaching Awards, the Gies College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the Gies College of Business Appreciation Award.


Gies College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award

James Elsesser 

James R. Elsesser, '66, '67
CEO, Interstate Bakeries, and CFO, Ralston Purina (retired)

James Elsesser served as CEO of Interstate Bakeries and CFO of Ralston Purina. From 2002- 2004 at Interstate Bakeries, he led a company of 35,000 employees. He worked to restructure the company and reduce expenses in a company that had been facing declining sales and high fixed costs.
Prior to joining Interstate Bakeries, he was at Ralston Purina from 1985-2002, where he served as the chief financial officer. There he assisted the CEO in the restructuring of the company via three spin-offs and numerous sales of all operating units other than pet food. He was named as one of America’s Top Ten CFO’s by Institutional Investor. Prior to Purina he served as vice president of finance at Carlson Companies for a year. And before Carlson Companies, he began his business career with General Mills, where he served in the Treasury department from 1971-1984 and was recognized as one of Corporate America’s 50 Rising Stars by Industry Week. READ JAMES' FULL BIO

Gies College of Business Appreciation Award

Cary McMillan 

Cary D. McMillan, '80
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, True Partners Consulting

Cary D. McMillan is chairman emeritus of True Partners Consulting LLC and one of its founders. From 2005-2020 he was CEO of True Partners Consulting LLC, a nationwide tax consulting firm. Before True Partners, he was CEO of Sara Lee Branded Apparel and executive vice president of Sara Lee Corporation. He joined Sara Lee in 1999 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Prior to Sara Lee, Mr. McMillan held a number of positions at Arthur Andersen, including managing partner of its largest office in Chicago.
He currently sits on the board of directors for American Eagle Outfitters as the chair of the compensation committee. He is a member of the board of directors for Hyatt Hotels as the chair of the audit committee. He previously served on the board of directors for McDonald’s, Hewitt Associates, and Sara Lee. He is also a board member of several nonprofit organizations in the Chicago area, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, WTTW, and Millennium Park. READ CARY'S FULL BIO

GBAA Excellence-in-Teaching Award Recipients

Rob Metzger 

Rob Metzger | Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

A veteran of the investment banking industry, Rob Metzger, '89 joined the Gies College of Business faculty in 2015. Metzger serves as the director of the College's Investment Banking Academy and Honors Program. After a successful 16-year career at William Blair & Company, Metzger is sharing his expertise with high-achieving undergraduate students.

Michael Shaw 

Michael Shaw | Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Since joining Gies Business in 1984, Michael Shaw has become a world-renowned expert in IT governance and business intelligence. The Leonard C. and Mary Lou Hoeft Chair of Information Systems, Shaw teaches graduate-level courses on IT governance and strategy. His reputation with his students has consistently earned him a spot on the “List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students."

Minjeong Kim 

Minjeong Kim | Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance

While pursuing her PhD in Accountancy, Minjeong Kim has quickly earned a reputation as a impactful teacher. Kim, a teaching assistant in accountancy, has been named to the "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students" in 2017 and 2018.

DEI divider

Making Gies a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion
Dr. Denise Lewin Loyd, associate professor of business administration, was named the College's first associate dean for equity in August. Since then, she has led Gies' diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, and she and her team are working to align that strategy with university priorities and implement the recommendations of College leadership and related working groups.

 Denise Lewin Loyd

Q. What are your roles and responsibilities as associate dean for equity?
A. As Associate Dean for Equity, I am tasked with guiding the College’s strategic vision for diversity, equity, inclusion. The vision is a comprehensive one as it involves all constituents of our Gies community including students, alumni, staff, faculty, our corporate partners, and the surrounding Champaign-Urbana community.

Q. What approach has the College taken to address this complex issue?
A. In the fall we embarked on a strategic planning initiative including approximately 50 members of the College across five working groups focused on our different constituencies. We intentionally pursued a dual focus of building trust and fluency discussing DEI as well as generating ideas Gies should pursue over the next five years. I am delighted that we now have a strategic plan we are beginning to implement.

Q. What tangible steps can be taken to make Gies a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism?
A. We are adopting a multifaceted approach. For example, we are employing workshops to increase individual knowledge of and fluency discussing DEI issues. We are making our curriculum more representative by expanding the diversity of speakers, case materials, and topics. And, we are proactively reviewing our policies and practices to disrupt unintentional bias. Our collective work as a community will allow us to fulfill our goals.

College News
Sridhar Ujjal 

Rapid bulk-testing for COVID-19 key to reopening universities
A new paper co-written by a team of Gies professors shows that rapid bulk-testing for COVID-19 along with other standard mitigation measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing were the keys to successfully reopening universities during COVID. READ MORE

Lester McKeever 

McKeever adds perspective to challenges of Black CPAs
Lester McKeever Jr., '55 says he believes progress was made toward racial equality while he was a student at Gies, and promoting the needs of African American students is one of the reasons why he’s remained so involved with the College. READ MORE

Airies Davis 

Davis addresses workforce during pandemic, civil unrest
Gies Business alumna Airies Davis, '13 is often called a business education unicorn. She seamlessly applies educational theory and practicum to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing business today. READ MORE

Share your expertise

Help Gies research on leadership through COVID-19, social injustice
COVID-19 and unrest around social injustice have created unprecedented challenges and opportunities for business leaders in the US and around the world in 2020. We are interested in understanding leaders’ experiences in navigating these circumstances. If you are a leader in an organization of more than 500 people, we would love to learn how you have led your organization through this unique context.

Your experiences will shed new light on the ways leaders make sense of crises; the ways in which they ‘process’ crisis circumstances; and how this informs their leadership behaviors, communication, and engagement with those they lead. 

Please consider participating in a confidential 50-60-minute interview via phone or Zoom with a researcher from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Your participation is voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time. If you would like to learn more about this study, please contact Dr. Denise Lewin Loyd at or Dr. Miriam Yates at

We understand that your time is valuable. As an indication of our gratitude, we will offer participants of this study the opportunity to enter a lottery. There will be two winners of the lottery who will be able to select a charity of their choice from a list. This charity will receive a donation of $150 in each of the winners’ names.

NOTE: We welcome all those who lead in an organization of more than 500 people. Please consider passing this opportunity along to leadership within your organization.

Invest in Gies

Gies receives anonymous gift supporting students, faculty, and staff 
At the end of 2020, Gies College of Business received a generous seven figure gift from an anonymous donor in support of student scholarships, faculty research, and emergency funds for Gies faculty and staff. The COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges, and the gift not only helps students and faculty, but also staff. A portion of the funds was allocated to immediately award 125 student scholarships during the Spring semester. Additional scholarships will be awarded in the future.  

 Gies students

This year, it has been very stressful to stay motivated and continue excelling academically,” said Taryn Wallace, a junior accountancy major. This scholarship means a lot to me because I feel an extreme amount of support and understanding. It shows that people recognize the struggles students have been facing and genuinely want to help.”  

The gift also provided an unprecedented level of incremental research funding to support the research efforts of Gies faculty. The Dean’s office has solicited research proposals from full-time specialized and tenure-stream faculty. To date, nearly 60 high-quality proposals have been received. 

“With this generous support of our scientific mission, Gies faculty members were able to step back and think not only in terms of their next study, but also in terms of their entire research programs,” said Mark Peecher, Deloitte Professor of Accountancy and Associate Dean of Faculty. This funding has generated positive buzz among the faculty and has been an encouraging, bright light in a challenging time for everyone.  

Funds will also be used to support the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, which helps in times of crisis or unexpected financial need. 

If you want to support Gies, make a gift here.
Campaign update
Events and Engagement Opportunities

In the interest of public safety and in keeping with University of Illinois policies, we continue to provide virtual engagement opportunities at this time. The health and safety of our Illinois family and our broader community is our highest priority. We look forward to connecting with our alumni and friends through these virtual opportunities now and in person again in the future. 

Webinar: Climate Change Effects on Innovation, the Economy, and Diplomacy | Tues., April 20
9-10 am CT | Zoom
Don Fullerton, Gutgsell Professor of Finance, will host a special event in recognition of Earth Day. This virtual event will feature a discussion between Professor Fullerton and Gideon Behar, Israel’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and Sustainability. They will share their unique perspectives about current climate change innovation research and its effects on the economy and diplomacy. REGISTER

Webinar: Creating a Workplace Climate that Welcomes Diverse Perspectives | Thur., April 22
2:30-3:30 pm CT | Zoom
Many organizations have found the goal of a truly inclusive workplace difficult to realize. One reason is that we’ve lost sight of an important axis of diversity: diversity of perspectives—political, ideological, and otherwise. We often recognize that a climate with open communication and where a range of perspectives are welcomed is also one where cooperation, productivity, and innovation will thrive; however, getting there has remained elusive. This new climate doesn’t come from a toolkit or a checklist of to-do items: It comes from a new way of thinking. We’ll talk about how to bring it to life.  Ilana Redstone is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a faculty fellow at Heterodox Academy, and founder of Diverse Perspectives Consulting. REGISTER

Virtual Spring Luncheon | Fri., April 23
12:30-1:30 pm CT | Virtual Event
Register to join the 2021 Spring Luncheon featuring keynote speaker Josh Whitman, Director of Athletics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Each year, the Gies Business family gathers to honor faculty and alumni achievements at the annual Spring Luncheon by recognizing the recipients of the Excellence-in-Teaching Awards, the Gies College of Business Appreciation Award, and the Gies College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award. The tradition continues virtually this year, hosted by the Gies College of Business Alumni Association and Gies Business. REGISTER

Webinar: How a Student Project Can Benefit Your Business | Wed., May 12
2-3 pm CT | Zoom
Join us to learn how you can connect with some of Gies College of Business’ top talent, gain dynamic solutions to real-time business problems, and make an impact through sponsoring a student project. Alumni, employers, small business owners, and leaders of industry are all welcome to learn how they can impact the academic growth of Gies students by sponsoring an Experiential Learning Student Project. REGISTER

To stay up to date on Gies events, visit and bookmark the College events calendar.

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