A motivated seller: Fond memories of UC inspires alumnus to support future Bearcats

Gift will support Center for Professional Selling, Lindner Business Honors and UC Athletics

Jim Grau, BBA ’73, wants to encourage his fellow University of Cincinnati alumni to visit campus and reengage with the university.

“Come see how advanced the campus is today,” he says. “Even though you had wonderful experiences here, come back, and you will be incredibly proud of the university from which you graduated.”

Long before he attended UC, Grau was a Bearcat fan. Among his fondest memories are listening to UC basketball games on the radio in the living room with his family. Growing up in Cincinnati’s Dillonvale neighborhood, Grau, a first-generation graduate, could not have guessed the impact UC would have on his life. 

“It is not an overstatement to say that I would not have the career and the life that I have if it were not for the education and experience I had at UC,” says the retired CEO of Cross Match Technologies, a biometric and technology company. 

Jim is the ultimate friend to our beloved university. He is intentional about creating future leaders, and his incredible support of the Lindner College of Business, our students and UC Athletics supports our bright future.

Neville G. Pinto UC President

His appreciation of the past, enthusiasm for the present, and intentions for the future inspired Grau to make a significant and transformative gift to the university. The multi-faceted donation encompasses his passions and interests: professional selling, the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, UC Athletics, and his high school alma mater, Archbishop Moeller High School.

“Jim is the ultimate friend to our beloved university,” said UC President Neville G. Pinto. “He is intentional about creating future leaders, and his incredible support of the Lindner College of Business, our students and UC Athletics supports our bright future.”

The Center for Professional Selling

three students sitting

Professional Selling students Savana Berhane, BBA '24; Kendall Kelly, BBA '24; and Morgan Guyler, BBA '24.

Selling, says Grau, is fundamental to every business because it promotes and facilitates revenue generation. During his career, he realized how essential a professional sales force is to business.

His elevation of the Center for Professional Selling at the Lindner College of Business will benefit the business community. Lindner’s approach to teaching professional selling skills to students is unique. Companies wanting top sales talent will seek out Lindner graduates with this skill set, especially since it's often unusual for recent graduates to have this level of expertise.

Active listening and various sales techniques are among the skills taught at the center. The program combines classroom teaching with experiential learning, and a robust list of corporate partners assist students with mock interviews, elevator speech practice, classroom sales competitions, networking socials, workshops and the biannual Sales Expo, a sales-focused career fair.

The Professional Selling minor attracts 300 to 400 students each semester from students majoring in fields from ballet to engineer to business analytics. “The skills they learn in our courses are life skills that benefit any career choice,” says Jane Sojka, PhD, academic director for the center. “Our students are amazing. They are driven and hard-working and Jim’s remarkable gift will help more students develop sales skills through real-word experiences,” adds Jennifer Barlow, executive director, external affairs for the center.

Grau’s gift includes programmatic support for the center and its professional selling lab. The lab allows students to fine-tune their presentation skills with access to video cameras and opportunities for feedback. There are plans to name the center The Grau Center for Professional Selling in honor of his gift. 

Jim is aligned with our purpose of nurturing a culture of problem solvers and fostering student success.

Marianne Lewis, PhD dean and professor of management, Lindner College of Business

Lindner Business Honors

Group of people on Lindner Hall steps.

Jim Grau, center, with UC and UC Foundation leaders. Left to right: Marianne Lewis, Grau, John Cunningham. Second row: Peter Landgren, Jennifer Barlow, Jane Sojka, Lauren Jacquot, Steve Rosfeld.

Grau recalls reading about Lindner Business Honors (LBH) students years ago and admiring how Carl H. Lindner Jr. engaged with students and encouraged them to gain experience through co-op. When Grau became involved with the Lindner College of Business, he found the LBH students to be engaged, intelligent and extremely well-prepared for their future business careers.

“As a result of the program’s rigorous academics, multiple co-op assignments at major corporations, and international and domestic work/study trips, graduates of the LBH program are prepared, from day one, to be business problem solvers and become business leaders,” he says.

Through his gift, Grau connects two passions — the LBH program and his high school alma mater. The Grau Family Lindner Business Honors Endowment Fund will assist Archbishop Moeller High School graduates and other students with financial need who are enrolled in LBH.

“I am incredibly grateful for Jim’s partnership with our college,” said Marianne Lewis, PhD, dean and professor of management, Lindner College of Business. “He is aligned with our purpose of nurturing a culture of problem solvers and fostering student success.”  

A Bearcat fan since childhood

Grau’s gift will also support UC Athletics and student-athletes. He appreciates and admires the personal commitment made by UC’s student-athletes and the recognition they bring to the university.

“You only need to meet Jim once to recognize his love of our university, our students and our athletics department,” said UC Athletics Director John Cunningham. “I appreciate the energy and dedication he invests in our student-athletes and programs.”

UC Athletics was Grau’s first connection to the university. He easily recalls the UC men’s basketball players from the 1950s and 1960s.

“When I think back to that little house in Dillonvale, sitting in the living room with my Dad and brothers, that was my first introduction to UC,” he remembers. “Athletics can provide a focal point and a center for the whole community.”

Even though he now lives in Florida, Grau can frequently be seen on the UC campus at Lindner or at a UC football or basketball game. He enjoys the unique energy he sees at UC and, “I’ll always be a Bearcat,” he says with a smile.

Featured image at top: Jim Grau. Photo/Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Next, Now

With its focus on innovation and impact, Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati is where ambition meets action. At the University of Cincinnati and UC Health, we’re driven by next; thinking bolder and dreaming bigger to create the tomorrow we envision, today. Learn more at nextnow.uc.edu.

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