Gies responding to challenges of COVID-19
In order to keep our students, faculty, staff, and community safe, we’ve made some dramatic changes here at Gies College of Business in recent weeks. We, along with the entire University of Illinois, have suspended face-to-face courses through the end of the summer and moved all classes to remote instruction. Fortunately, we’ve developed significant expertise in online education and have an outstanding eLearning team, which has helped to make that transition as smooth as possible.
All students who are able to safely return to their permanent home address have been asked to do so, and we have instructed all employees who are not deemed “essential” to work from home for the time being. The College is in a great position to withstand any long-term negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in large part to the support of alumni and friends like you. While we’ve had to temporarily adjust the way we deliver life-changing business education, we’re confident we’ll bounce back as strong as ever.
Join Us for a Spring Chat with Dean Jeffrey Brown
We will miss seeing our loyal alumni at Spring Luncheon, but are excited to virtually connect you with the College through a conversation with Gies Business Dean Jeffrey R. Brown in lieu of Spring Luncheon. Hear the latest news from Gies Business, and learn how the College is continuing to provide excellent education to our students under challenging circumstances.
Spring Chat with Dean Jeffrey Brown
Friday, April 24
12-1 pm CDT
This Q&A will be led by Gies College of Business Alumni Association President Joan Rockey ’93, CFO & Partner, Cerity Partners LLC.
We want to hear from our alumni! If you have a question you would like Dean Brown to address, you will have an opportunity to provide that when you REGISTER. Dean Brown will try to address as many of your questions as time allows. We look forward to meeting with you on April 24.
Gies College of Business Emergency Scholarship Fund
With the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are beginning to see a significant negative impact in the lives of our students. Many are losing their part-time jobs, and several more have parents who have lost their jobs. Sadly, this could be the difference between a student being able to continue their education at Gies and being forced to drop out of school.
In order to support these students until they’re able to get back on solid financial footing, we will need to provide more emergency scholarships than ever before. Learn about how the College is ensuring students facing a personal financial crisis are able to continue their education uninterrupted. READ MORE
Innovating with “Stackability” of Online Programs
Stackability is one of the exciting, unique aspects that sets Gies’ online programs apart. You can think of stackability as individual Lego pieces, which you can put together in all kinds of ways to build out the education you need.
The first thing we did was put a collection of Lego blocks of prerecorded noncredit content on Coursera, which anybody in the world can browse for free. The next step in the building block is to watch all the videos for a certain course, and then after you’ve completed three courses in a Specialization, you can pay for a certificate from Coursera.
The next layer of stackability is to get access to the live sessions and take the course for graduate credit at Illinois. You can then transfer that credit to another program or you can apply to the iMBA or iMSA (online master’s in accounting) having already successfully completed one of the required courses. Finally, you can decide to fully join the iMBA or iMSA program, which grants you access to the full suite of University of Illinois resources and positions you to earn a full graduate degree from the University of Illinois.
The great thing about stackability is it allows you to try things out. You can pick certain courses or specializations without committing to the full degree. That’s the magic, and it’s totally different than the other online programs that exist.
New Undergraduate Core Curriculum
At Gies, everything we do is intentionally designed to help students connect the dots between their education and a purposeful future. That’s why we are relentlessly innovating our curriculum. Our new undergraduate core includes two semesters of data analytics for all students and a sequence of cohort courses that are foundational to the educational experience.
All first year students complete Business 101: Professional Responsibility and Business. This course explores the social value of business, the vocation of business, and ethics and professional responsibility. Business 101 helps students think aspirationally about business and how it adds value for customers.
Business 201: Business Dynamics is built around a business simulation. Second-year students are introduced to the primary functional areas of business and how they interconnect to create a business system. In addition to engaging in a dynamic business simulation, students are taught to think and engage like leaders.
Business 301: Business in Action is the largest experiential learning course in the nation. Students work on a real organizational problem with an actual client. They identify, analyze, and present recommendations for a viable solution. This course develops key presentation skills along with teamwork and problem solving.
Finally, Business 401: Global Business Perspectives teaches all seniors about the globalization of business. Students learn to take stock of the world around them, while also developing skills to overcome personal and professional obstacles, reflect upon what motivates them, and think about small ways they can improve the world around them.
Gies Professor Using Virtual Reality to Teach Taxation
For many students, depreciation and cost recovery aren’t the most exciting concepts to learn, but now a Gies professor has found a unique way to make learning about taxes fun. Using 360-degree GoPro pictures of an Airbnb and a virtual reality headset, Angel Chatterton is helping students understand everything from proper tax classifications to expense to identifying items that are tax deductible. READ MORE
Each year since 1960, the Gies family has gathered for the annual Spring Luncheon in Chicago to honor the achievements of our faculty and alumni. While the cancellation of the 2020 event will not allow us to celebrate this year’s award winners at the luncheon, we recognize them here and encourage you to reach out with your congratulations. A grateful Gies community thanks them for their dedication to the College and our students. Stay tuned for plans to recognize them on campus on the Friday during Homecoming weekend!
Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
Alan D. Feldman, ’74 BA, ’76 MBA
President and CEO (retired), Midas International Corporation
Chair, University of Illinois Foundation Board
After Alan Feldman earned his BS in marketing and his MBA from Illinois, business faculty were encouraging him to stay and earn his PhD. While he appreciated their confidence, Alan was ready to begin his business career, a career that included nearly 40 years in senior management positions in the consumer goods industry. “The business faculty were instrumental in preparing me,” he says. “They had great expertise and high expectations. They helped me see the potential I might have, and their connections even helped me get my first job running a small international construction company.” READ THE FULL STORY
Appreciation Award Recipient
Edith (Edie) A. Stotler, ’68 LAS
Partner of Stotler Grain Company and President of Homer Grain Company (retired)
A loyal Illinois alumna, Edie is a member of the Laureate Circle of the University’s President Council and a generous financial supporter of Gies. She was named an Illini Comeback Honoree in 1986 and received the Illini Loyalty Award in 1993 and the LAS Dean’s Quadrangle Award in 1994. But despite her LAS roots, Edie’s business experience and interest in lifelong learning drew her close to Gies. “I like to say that Gies College of Business adopted me,” she says. “I’ve spoken to classes, attended lectures, and served on the Dean’s Business Council. I’ve built some wonderful relationships with incredible people who are visionary and committed to students. It’s an honor to be able to share some of my experience with such a world-class group and a privilege to be recognized with the Appreciation Award.” READ THE FULL STORY
GBAA Excellence-in-Teaching Award Recipients
Rachel Schwartz | Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
As an educator since 1982 and a Gies faculty member since 2003, Rachel Schwartz has had a lifelong commitment to students’ learning and personal growth. In addition to teaching, for which she has consistently been named to the “List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students,” she has been the academic director of the MSA program since 2012. Her commitment to the College earned her one of the first Dean’s Impact Awards in 2017. Schwartz says there is nothing more satisfying than “seeing students light up as we work together through complex subjects, building their knowledge, skills, competence, and the confidence that comes with a full understanding of what previously appeared to be incomprehensible.”
Michael Bednar | Excellence in Graduate Teaching
Michael Bednar joined our faculty in 2008, since then, he has been recognized for his service to students and the Gies community, earning the Dean’s Impact Award in 2018 for his “tireless work in developing and piloting Business 301,” the College’s undergraduate action learning course. In addition to his teaching and research interests, Bednar is the College’s academic director of experiential learning. “There is something magical when students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to their own lives. That’s one thing that’s so gratifying about working with graduate students who are often able to immediately see the applicability of the things we discuss in class.”
Sulaiman AlBader | Excellence in Teaching Assistance
Sulaiman AlBader came to Gies as a PhD student in the Department of Finance in 2016 after earning an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. As an instructor for Finance 221: Corporate Finance, he brings his philosophy of delivering engaging, real-life content to the classroom and shares with students his experience as a manager of investment and corporate finance. In 2019, he received the Paul Van Arsdell Award in Finance. Sulaiman will join the faculty at Kuwait University’s College of Business Administration as an assistant professor in the fall.
Don (FIN ’88) and Anne (ACCY ’88) Edwards support innovation at Gies
Innovation is a strategic priority at Gies, and visionary leaders like alumni Don and Anne Edwards are committed to supporting the College’s innovative initiatives. Their recent $10 million gift to the university, the largest ever by a trustee, includes a $7 million gift to Gies Business. $2 million of that gift will support merit scholarships for our business students. The remaining $5 million will support the relationship between Gies and the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in the following ways: $3 million will support Gies faculty working at DPI in Chicago, and $2 million will be earmarked for a DPI-Gies Technology/Innovation Fund to support facilities and innovative programs.
“The Gies Business-DPI partnership is a powerful opportunity to drive innovation and growth throughout our state,” said Don Edwards. “I am excited that this gift will promote research and new ideas within the College and enhance Gies’ entrepreneurial mission. Anne and I are so pleased to play a part in helping this vision become a reality.” READ MORE
VITA Program Sees Overwhelming Turnout
Gies' Department of Accountancy saw a local need and reached out to meet it. For the second year in a row, accounting faculty and students provided free tax preparation services to low-income, elderly, and limited English-speaking residents through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In the first three weeks of the program, more than 60 students helped prepare 158 returns. When the program was suspended on March 10 due to COVID-19, there were 140 pending appointments and still a month to go, putting it on target to easily surpass the total of tax returns students prepared in 2019.
Accounting instructor Mandi Alt, who supervised the program, says the department’s participation provides “an important community service as well as unique opportunities for students to interact face-to-face with clients, where they can learn something new from each experience.” Senior accounting student Iqra Burney agreed. “It is a privilege to help people with what can sometimes be an intimidating task,” she said. “Plus, it gives us valuable experience to take the concepts we learn in the classroom and put them into practice.” Alt says the department looks forward to bringing the VITA program back in 2021 and reaching even more local residents.
All spring 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. There are still opportunities to connect with the College virtually, and we've included save the dates for late summer and fall events we hope to hold.
Webinar: Ethics in Global Commerce During Coronavirus | Wednesday, April 22
2-3 pm | Online Event
Patricia Werhane shares information on the global ethical dilemmas faced during the coronavirus outbreak and how to make these difficult decisions. The webinar will begin with an outline of the ethical dilemmas facing global commerce in light of the pandemic, tackle the “local identify versus the interconnectivity and dependence on global commerce” issue, and explain and set out a values-based decision process for making difficult ethical choices in crises such as this global pandemic. REGISTER NOW
Spring Chat with Dean Jeffrey Brown | Friday, April 24
12-1 pm CST | Online Event
Join Gies College of Business Dean Jeffrey R. Brown for a special conversation, in lieu of Spring Luncheon. Hear the latest news from Gies Business, and learn how the College is continuing to provide excellent education to our students under challenging circumstances. This Q&A will be led by Gies College of Business Alumni Association President Joan Rockey ’93, CFO & Partner, Cerity Partners LLC. REGISTER NOW
Save the Date: New Alumni Welcome | Thursday, August 27
6-8 pm | TBD, Chicago, IL
Join Gies Business and the Gies Young Alumni Committee to welcome 2020 graduates to our amazing alumni family.
Save the Date: Fall Finale Golf Outing | Monday, September 14
10 am-6 pm | Glen Oak Country Club, Glen Ellyn, IL
Join Gies College of Business, Gies College of Business Alumni Association, and the Dean's Business Council for the 9th annual Fall Finale Golf Outing at Glen Oak Country Club. We hope you will help us follow through on our commitment to provide a transformational learning experience to the next generation of business leaders.
Save the Date: Investiture of Professor Matthew Kraatz | TBD, September
3-5 pm | Business Instructional Facility, Champaign, IL
Please join us to celebrate the investiture ceremony of Professor Kraatz as the Merle H. and Virginia Downs Boren Professor in Gies College of Business; reception to follow.
Save the Date: Illinois Real Estate Luncheon | Friday, October 2
11 am-1:30 pm | University Club, Chicago, IL
Network with fellow Illini and current members of the Rho Epsilon Student Real Estate Club and learn from leaders in the real estate industry.
Save the Date: Gies Homecoming Business Bash | Friday, October 16
All day | Champaign, IL
Mark your calendar to celebrate an Illinois Homecoming at Gies College of Business. We'll have special events planned to help you reminisce and reconnect, all held in the heart of campus, including our annual Business Bash Celebration.
To stay up to date on Gies events, visit and bookmark the College events calendar.
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