Larry Gales retires from Lindner International Programs

Larry Gales, academic director of the International Programs office in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, retired at the end of July after 31 years at the University of Cincinnati and 22 years in that position.

When he arrived at UC in 1988, the college had no international education programs. Today, LCB sends more than 700 students abroad each year to 36 countries. The college offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs in international business and has student and faculty exchange agreements and dual degrees with 15 partner universities worldwide.

Early study abroad programs

Hired as an assistant professor of organizational theory, Gales saw his career take an unexpected turn in 1997, when Associate Dean Ralph Katerberg hosted two visitors from the Toulouse Business School interested in partnering with LCB. At the time, Gales served on the graduate programs committee.

He volunteered to develop a graduate study abroad program at Toulouse, working with Susan Sadlier, the administrator who managed what was at the time the college’s only international partnership. That partnership ­with another French school, École Supérieure de Commerce de Nantes Atlantique in France, offered a summer study abroad program for Lindner undergrads and semester abroad opportunities for ESC Nantes Atlantique students at UC. 

“It was a one-week program for MBAs,” Gales remembers of the graduate program he and Sadlier created at Toulouse. “We had no idea how many students would be interested. We thought maybe we’d get 15 or 20. We got 59.”

Not knowing the logistical problems they could face, they took all 59 of those grad students to France the next spring. The program included company visits and cultural activities and became the basic model for the college’s short-course, faculty-led programs for both undergrads and graduates.

Larry Gales stands in front of a waterway with Prague Castle in the background

Gales in Prague

Assured of student interest and seeing the value of real-world experience for students in a global workplace, LCB created the International Programs Office in 1999, with Gales as academic director and Sadlier as director.

Gales, Sadlier and then-Dean Fritz Russ developed the college’s initial strategies for international education. Gales explains, “We looked at what we considered to be important strategic locations. That didn’t always match up with what we could do, though.” After initially failing to find a partner in Germany, they looked to Austria, and Gales created a program with Johannes Kepler University. Semester and exchange programs at JKU followed, and then other short-course programs in Europe and the Americas.

Gales and studentss pose in front of a large robot and a futuristic cityscape

Gales with a group of MBA students in Chongqing, China

Another part of the world that Gales and his office prioritized was China. With introductions from a group of Chinese executives had who studied at UC (“There’s strategy and then there’s opportunism,” Gales points out), he traveled to China with Riall Nolan, director of the Institute of Global Studies & Affairs, which was the predecessor to the UC International office. The trip led to Gales developing programs with Beijing Jiaotong and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (Chengdu), the first of several strong partnerships in the country.

From the start, a critical ally in LCB’s internationalization was the new Lindner Honors-PLUS program, which built in a requirement that all of its students study abroad. In 2000, Gales traveled with LHP’s first cohort on their trip to Nantes, Paris and Brussels, which was led by marketing professor Raj Mehta. It was the beginning of a decades-long working relationship, as Mehta is now the vice provost who leads both UC International and the University Honors Program.

New directions

As the college’s study abroad offerings multiplied, Gales and LCB faculty worked to develop program format and content as well.

Originally, the trips stood alone as quarter courses. Gales recalls, “The model at the time was, that was the course itself, the time they spent in-country,” with just a few prep sessions beforehand. Now the programs are incorporated into semester courses, with a minimum of seven classes prior to travel. Faculty use international experiential learning to help students master specific course content.            

The programs are integrated more closely into degree programs as well, with dual-duty topics that fulfill requirements both in subject majors and in international business. Examples are a graduate luxury marketing program in Italy or an undergraduate supply chain management program in Chile.

Topics continue to evolve as new trends in business arise and as LCB sets its sights on new regions. Gales cites a new program in Ghana that Charles Appeadu in Finance and Prince Ellis of UC Clermont are developing, where students will work with small entrepreneurial groups. A development grant from the UC International office supports that program. Gales hopes to see more programs to the Middle East next.

The college has also added cultural competence programs for freshmen and sophomores. These general courses introduce students to international education, emboldening them to try further opportunities like a semester abroad or an exchange.

Partnerships and dual degree programs

Moving beyond study abroad, LCB began to develop articulation agreements in the mid-2000s. These agreements allow students enrolled in partner programs around the world to earn degrees at UC in their final one or two years of study. The first undergraduate agreements were with early partners Audencia (formerly ESC Nantes Atlantique) and Toulouse. An MS in finance with Xiamen was the first graduate agreement. During his tenure, Gales worked to develop agreements with more than 20 universities around the world.

Some of those universities, including Beijing Jiaotong University, Chongqing University, and the University of Quebec at Montreal, are now university-wide partners. Gales had a hand in that evolution as well. He was appointed by then-Provost Santa Ono as UC’s China area representative and has since served with UC International’s China Strategy Group from its formation in 2012. The group is one of the seven regional groups of faculty, administrators and community advisors that help guide the UC International office in the university’s strategic globalization.

International business program, teaching and research

Another of Gales’ legacies to Lindner and UC is the international business degree program, which he was instrumental in developing. Since the subject crosses academic departments, it needed strong advocacy. Originally an “orphan” track that students could take as a double major, it is now the third largest major in LCB, after marketing and accounting.  Gales taught some of the core courses.

Larry Gales stands by a screen showing part of a slide with UC branding elements.

Larry Gales accepts the Mrs. A.B. Dolly Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching

Teaching experiences are some of Gales’ most valued memories from his career. “I’ve taught in China, I’ve taught in Austria, I’ve taught in France. Teaching in China in particular—the Chinese culture puts academics on a very high plane. It’s very gratifying to see how much they value education and educators.”

He earned awards for teaching excellence from LCB, UC and the wider educational community. He was nominated for the Harold Gilliot Award in 2002 by students grateful for his leadership when they were in France and Spain during the 9/11 attacks.

Along the way, Gales’ international work changed his own area of study, which grew to focus on cross-cultural issues. His primary research focus became cultural conceptions of organizational justice, the fair treatment of people in organizations.

A living legacy

People pose with a retirement cake on a table decorated with international flags.

Lindner's retirement party

Gales was awarded emeritus status on his retirement. His department head in Management, Elaine Hollensbe, summed up the recognition of his peers, “In his 30 years with us, he provided exceptional service as academic director for international programs and as a member of our faculty. His leadership contributed substantially to the ongoing success and reputation of our international programs. The effects will be felt long after his retirement.”

Lee Armstrong, associate director of international programs, agrees. “Larry will be remembered for creating a blueprint for globalization for Lindner. Thousands of students and faculty have been influenced by study abroad over these past 20 years. As I looked around the room at his retirement party, I realized that his vision for globalization will continue, as the room was full of colleagues he influenced by inviting them to lead study abroad or visit international partners.”

The Lindner College of Business, which built some of the University of Cincinnati’s most important international partnerships from that blueprint, now sends almost twice as many students abroad as any other college. “I feel really proud of that,” says Gales. “It’s not just me. I’ll take credit for pushing the initiative along, but it’s a lot of people. It’s been very much a—I wouldn’t even say a team effort—a community effort, a college-level effort.”

He foresees the effort continuing under LCB’s new dean, Marianne Lewis. “She’s very committed to globalization. She values it as something that’s essential, having come from a European business school and having led study abroad programs when she was a faculty member here.”

Michelle Johns, who comes to UC from Miami University, will take over parts of Gales’ work in the International Programs office.

Gales will be carrying on the work, too. He’ll teach two courses online this fall, one in Austria in October and possibly one in Chile in spring.

But he is looking forward to one major perk of retirement. “Yeah, not having to spend time in airports. I hate airports.”

Explore Lindner's international programs and discover where you'll go next.

The featured image shows Gales in front of a street art mural of the cityscape in Valparaiso, Chile.