News from Gies College of Business
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Gies iMBA named #1 Business School Innovation of the Decade

Gies College of Business is a mission-driven college, committed to creating life-changing access to business education. That purpose drives our passion for innovation and our push to deliver great business content in bold, new ways. Business education publication Poets&Quants ranked the Gies online MBA (iMBA) as the world’s #1 Biggest Business School Innovation of the Decade, ahead of other known innovators like Harvard, Virginia (Darden), and California (Haas). Here’s what P&Q Editor-in-Chief John Byrne (left) said about the iMBA:

Poets&Quants Editor-in-Chief John Byrne 

“Despite the bare-bones price, Gies put its most senior faculty into the online courses, having them hold weekly live Internet classes and office hours, with occasional city meetups between students and faculty, and a portfolio of elective courses with eight different specializations, including a new data analytics track in spring 2019. All for a price at which rival programs are generally stripped down digital textbooks with no live classes, trips, or electives.” 


At Gies, we don’t just claim to be innovators; it’s in our DNA. As John Byrne puts it, the iMBA is “disruption epitomized.” The iMBA set a new record for applicants this fall, and we owe a great deal of that success to our dedicated faculty and staff as well as our outstanding students and alumni. Now the world is learning more about the culture of innovation at Gies.

  • Associate Dean Brooke Elliott was featured in an article in Inside Higher Ed titled At Home, Workers Seek Alternative Credentials,” which explored how interest in alternative online credentials has spiked after people started working remotely this past spring.

  • Dean Jeffrey Brown was a featured speaker in a Boston Globe Op-Talk on “College Disrupted: How the Pandemic Will Shake up Higher Education.” You can watch a recording of the discussion with SNHU President Paul J. LeBlanc, MIT Professor Amy Glasmeier, and University of Chicago student Samantha Herrera moderated by the Globe's David Scharfenberg. This talk was sponsored by Gies College of Business.
 Associate Dean for Equity Denise Lewin Loyd

Loyd named Gies’ Associate Dean for Equity
Dr. Denise Lewin Loyd, associate professor of business administration, has been named the first associate dean for equity at Gies College of Business. In this new position, Loyd will help Gies become a leader among business schools in diversity, equity, and inclusion by leading the College’s DEI strategy, aligning that strategy with university priorities, and implementing the recommendations of College leadership and related working groups.

“I am honored and excited to serve Gies in this new way,” said Loyd. “The creation of this role is an important step for the College. With hard work and creativity, I know we can make Gies a leader in equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. I look forward to working with all who identify with and love this College to create an even brighter future.”

 Director of Leadership and Culture LaTonya Wilkins

Wilkins named Director of Leadership and Culture
LaTonya Wilkins
has been named Gies' director of leadership and culture. Wilkins will partner with Dean Jeffrey Brown, Associate Dean for Equity Denise Lewin Loyd, and others to put the College-wide anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy in motion. Wilkins will co-lead the DEI culture committee, be an active member of the College steering committee, and oversee the creation of College-wide affinity groups. She will also continue to focus on broader leadership development, leadership coaching, and culture strategy at Gies.

“I am honored to be partnering with Gies to advance our organizational culture, which plays a role in everything we do,” Wilkins said. “Let’s work together to create the bright future that we all want to experience.”


On October 26, 2017, the College announced the $150 million gift from Larry and Beth Gies and the naming of Gies College of Business. To commemorate this gift, we have set aside a day each year in October for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to give back as well and demonstrate our Business on Purpose promise.

This year, Gies Giving Day will be held Monday, October 26, 2020. While we’re not able to celebrate in person this year, we invite you to join us for a discussion between Dean Jeffrey Brown and Larry Gies where they will discuss College priorities and highlight the impact scholarship support has on student success. Please register to watch this discussion on Gies Giving Day at 1 pm CT on October 26.

Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, donations will be collected online throughout the week for the Gies College of Business Emergency Scholarship Fund, which provides emergency aid to students facing a personal financial crisis. LEARN MORE


Gies Associate Dean Ron Watkins Leading SHIELD IL
Ron Watkins, associate dean for strategic innovation at Gies, is serving as managing director of SHIELD IL. The University of Illinois System started SHIELD IL to deploy the new saliva-based test for COVID-19 and the tracking system associated with it statewide. The goal is to help the state safely open schools, governments, and other essential entities. One of the key innovations was the development of this saliva-based test, which is now being used to test faculty, staff, and students


Gies Faculty Contributing to Safer Illinois App
Vidya Haran, teaching assistant professor, Simrun Sethi, lecturer of business administration, and the Siebel Center for Design team conducted a 7-week human-centered, qualitative study to understand the behavioral barriers to adoption of the Safer Illinois app. Their insights highlighted that the app exists in an ecosystem of the wider campus and requires effective tone and communication around empathy, reciprocity, inclusivity, and authenticity.


Analyzing the Spread of COVID-19 Misinformation
Joseph Yun, research assistant professor of accountancy and director of the Data Science Research Service, is a co-PI on a team that has received an NSF grant for their project “Tracking and Network Analysis of the Spread of Misinformation Regarding COVID-19.” They will use machine learning to track dubious claims related to the pandemic on the web and on social media with the goal of providing scientists and policymakers with potential information mitigation strategies.

 Professor and ISOI Director William Ocasio

Gies launches Illinois Strategic Organizations Initiative
In order to build on our rich history of pioneering breakthroughs in strategy and organizational behavior, Gies College of Business is proud to launch the Illinois Strategic Organizations Initiative (ISOI). ISOI’s mission, under the leadership of Professor William Ocasio is to conduct, sponsor, and promote world-class interdisciplinary research and thought leadership in strategic organizations.

“No business school in the world has taken the lead in researching the area between organizations and management,” said Ocasio. “We are going to take the capabilities that have existed at Gies for years, and elevate them further. We’re going to make Gies a leader, if not the leader, at the intersection of organizations and strategy. Gies has afforded me an opportunity to follow my passions in a way that I could not do anywhere else. I applaud the College’s leadership for recognizing this opportunity.”

If you'd like to participate in Gies faculty research, you can join the Gies Business Research Panel. As part of the panel, you will be invited through periodic emails (not more than once a month) to participate in research studies on various topics in accounting, organizational management, finance, and/or marketing.


Dean Brown Reappointed for New Five-Year Term
Dean Jeffrey R. Brown was reappointed as dean for another five-year term. Provost Andreas Cangellaris noted a strong appreciation for Dean Brown's innovative and visionary leadership and his exemplary advocacy for the College and its vibrancy and promise, and his impressive fundraising record. Under Dean Brown's leadership, the College continues to stand out as one of the leading business schools in the nation. 


19 New Faculty Members Join Gies this Fall
Gies is proud to welcome 19 new tenure-track and specialized faculty members to our ranks this fall. From mobile marketing to tax policies to workplace motivation, these rising stars are researching topics that impact businesses and consumers around the world, and they're preparing our students to be tomorrow's business leaders. Please join us in welcoming these new faculty to Gies, and read more about their research.


US News Ranks Gies #9 Public Business Program
Gies is once again ranked as a Top 10 public undergraduate business program, according to US News & World Report. Gies was ranked #9 among public undergraduate business programs and #19 overall nationally. The publication asks deans and senior faculty members to rate undergraduate business programs accredited by AACSB.


Gies Appoints First Director of Social Innovation
Gies is expanding its commitment to purpose-driven entrepreneurship by appointing Benjamin Lough as the College’s first director of social innovation. In this position, Lough will help Gies broaden its curricular offerings around social innovation, enhance experiential learning opportunities for students, and strengthen the College’s external strategic networks and partnerships to deliver social innovation.


Shebik Gift to Boost Gies South Campus Profile
Steve and Megan Shebik have long thought the south end of the University of Illinois campus could better showcase the treasures found there and the enterprising future of business-related higher education. “We see an opportunity to create more interaction and collaboration, which reflects how business works today and into tomorrow,” said Steve (’78 ACCY, FIN). He and his wife, economics major Megan (‘80 LAS), have pledged $2.5 million to Gies College of Business to construct a shared instructional facility. 

“One of the things that struck us both is how Gies College of Business and the University Library already bring people together, and we wanted to strongly support further development of that,” said Megan, who along with Steve, noted the dynamic, open environment of the Business Instructional Facility (BIF), which was completed in 2008.

The new business building will house larger classrooms, expanded facilities for Gies’ eLearning team and the Magelli Office of Experiential Learning, more offices for the College’s growing faculty, and additional production studios for its world-class online learning offerings. In addition, the Shebiks have pledged $2.5 million to help launch a project that will ultimately transform portions of the Undergraduate Library and Stacks in the Main Library to create a more holistic learning environment. READ MORE


Farewell, Larry: Innovative Gies Leader and Professor Retires
Larry DeBrock, a visionary educator and beloved professor, retired this spring after 40+ years with the University. The Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics served as the ninth dean of Gies from 2009-2015. He became a faculty member at the University in 1979.

DeBrock began his tenure as dean by opening the Business Instructional Facility, the first building at any public university business school to receive LEED Platinum certification for its green design and construction. His commitment to excellence led to the College’s continued accreditation in business and accounting by AACSB International (placing it among the top five percent of the world’s business programs), students’ education in professional responsibility through Business 101, faculty successes, partnerships with other institutions, the continuously high placement numbers of Gies Business Career Services, and the number of companies who recruit Gies students and alumni.


Under DeBrock’s leadership, the College’s online infrastructure was built, recording studios for online teaching were created, the eLearning office was established, and the College’s highly successful iMBA program was conceptualized, approved, and created. He also led the creation of an online business minor, multiple online courses in partnership with Coursera, and the first-ever 3D printing lab in a college of business.

DeBrock masterfully leveraged what technology offers by building his courses specifically for online learners. He then modeled its effective application for other instructors. DeBrock did more than support and oversee the iMBA; he was one of the first professors to teach in the program. His “Firm Level Economics: Consumer and Producer Behavior” course is one of the program’s highest-rated courses, with an average user rating of 4.8 out of 5.

DeBrock has touched the lives of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students across a spectrum of programs – including the full-time and professional MBA, the Executive MBA, the iMBA – guiding students on a path to discovering their purpose and putting that purpose into practice to make the world a better place.

Colleagues say his dedication as a teacher and strength of character as a leader will continue to inspire them. Most of all, they will remember DeBrock for his integrity and kindness.


All fall in-person events have been cancelled in the interest of public safety and in keeping with University of Illinois policies. The health and safety of our Illinois family and our broader community is our highest priority. We look forward to connecting with our alumni through these virtual opportunities. 

Sponsor a student project
Students describe experiential learning projects as life-changing and pivotal in their college experience, and you can be a part helping our students grow into future business leaders. The Magelli Office of Experiential Learning provides opportunities for students to gain real-world experiences in business and to enable companies to engage more deeply with our students and the College. The team of highly talented, highly motivated students you work with will bring fresh thinking and an outside perspective to your challenges. We are accepting submissions for spring projects until November 30, 2020. LEARN MORE 

Homecoming 2020
Homecoming has always been a highlight of the year, and we are looking forward to celebrating with the Gies Business family. This year, Homecoming will be held the week of November 29-December 5, and activities will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please watch your email for future messages from us with more details on how we can all gather virtually.


Gies Giving Day | Monday, October 26
All Day | Virtual Celebration
Celebrate the three-year anniversary of Larry and Beth Gies' $150 million gift and the naming of Gies College of Business. Register to join us virtually at 1 pm CT to view an important discussion between Dean Brown and Larry Gies. LEARN MORE

V. Dale Cozad Lecture on Entrepreneurship | Wednesday, November 4
4:30-5:30 pm CT | Virtual Event
Attend the annual Cozad Lecture, presented by a speaker in the entrepreneurial space who highlights their entrepreneurial journey. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are encouraged to attend. REGISTER NOW

Webinar: How Can Artificial Intelligence Effectively Augment Human Intelligence? | Tuesday, November 10
11 am-12 pm CT | Zoom
While the transformative potential of AI is widely recognized, there is still significant uncertainty for businesses on how to effectively integrate AI into their existing processes. Aravinda Garimella, assistant professor of business administration at Gies College of Business, will discuss key issues to consider before designing, implementing, and using AI-augmented systems. Visit the Gies Teaching and Learning Webinar page to register and get more information about upcoming webinars. REGISTER NOW

Business 101 Capstone Competition Judging | Wednesday, December 9
4-7:30 pm | Virtual Event
Help shape our future business leaders by participating as a judge for the Business 101 capstone competition. The event will be fully virtual for the first time. REGISTER NOW

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

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