Al Gambrel thinks often of professor Larry Foster and his Organizational Development and Behavior class at MSU. It was in Foster’s class that Gambrel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1976, first took an interest in pursuing a career in human resources.
Now, with a $1 million gift to Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, Gambrel and his wife Nancy, also an MSU graduate, have created the Gambrel Family Endowed Professorship in Management in hopes that future generations of Spartans will be inspired by a similarly dynamic professor.
“I’d love for this professor to do for these students what professor Larry Foster did for me,” Gambrel said.
For the past 10 years, Gambrel has been senior vice president of human resources at TreeHouse Foods, an Illinois-based food and beverage company with 6,800 employees in 24 locations in the United States and Canada. He joined TreeHouse Foods on the ground floor and recruited employees with the skills to bring the company to life.
Employees of the future, he said, need a plan. Students who know what their talents are and where those talents would be successful can make informed choices about their course of study and, subsequently, their career path. Gambrel said his fortuitous “ah-ha” moment in Foster’s class set the course for his future.
“I’d love for a professor to be courageous enough to engage business leaders in a way that encourages a mutual connection and awareness between them and the students,” Gambrel said.
Such awareness would give companies a preview of what their future employees have to offer. More importantly, it would give students an idea of what they need to do to prepare for and pursue a job that’s right for them.
“I thank Al and Nancy for their commitment to supporting faculty at MSU,” said President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Endowed professorships allow our university to recruit and retain educators of the highest caliber. Their knowledge and passion for their craft have the potential to make a lasting impression on each student who sits before them in the classroom.”
Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Broad College, said Gambrel’s passion for ensuring that MSU students get a real-world educational experience matches the business school’s vision of “developing transformational thinkers and doers who make business happen.”
“The Gambrel Family Endowed Professorship will go a long way towards recognizing and supporting a faculty member who has the background, mindset and commitment to make this vision a reality,” Gupta said.