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Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University
Make a Difference Giving To Michigan State University

Employment Starts in the Classroom

"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."

Al and Nancy Gambrel

Employment Starts in the Classroom

Al Gambrel (’76, Business) thinks often of Professor Larry Foster and his Organizational Development and Behavior class. It’s hard not to, as it was in Professor Foster’s class that Gambrel first took an interest in pursuing a career in human resources.

Now, with a $1 million gift to the Eli Broad College of Business, he and his wife, Nancy—who also graduated from MSU in 1976, with a degree in Home Economics Education—have created the Gambrel Family Endowed Professorship in Management, in hopes that future generations of Spartans will find the same kind of inspiration in the classroom of a similarly dynamic professor.

 “I thank Al and Nancy for their commitment to supporting faculty at MSU,” says 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.”

The Voice of Experience

After graduating with a degree in personnel administration, Gambrel entered the world of human resources and never looked back.

Having spent the past ten years as the SVP of Human Resources at TreeHouse Foods—a private-label food and beverage company that works with grocery retailers and food service providers all over the U.S. and Canada—it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about hiring capable people. In fact, he joined TreeHouse Foods on the ground floor and helped build the company in a way that only an HR professional can: by recruiting employees with the skills to bring the company to life.

But what can the employees of the future, many of whom are recent graduates, do to make the job search less daunting? Gambrel knows a thing or two about that, too.

Putting the Future on the Syllabus

It’s all about having a plan, Gambrel says. Students who know early on 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. His fortuitous “ah-ha” moment in Professor Larry Foster’s class ended up setting the course for his future. In the classroom of the future Gambrel Family Endowed Professor in Management, he hopes “ah-ha” moments like that will be the norm.

“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,” he says. 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 right now to prepare for and pursue a job that’s right for them.

 “Al and Nancy’s passion for ensuring that our students get the most relevant real-world educational experience completely matches the vision of the Broad College which is to develop transformational thinkers and doers who make business happen,” says Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Eli Broad College of Business. “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. We thank Al and Nancy for giving us the opportunity to inspire the next generation of business leaders.”

“I’d love for this professor to do for these students what Professor Larry Foster did for me,” Gambrel says.

With any luck, he or she will. And long after those students have followed the path to their dream jobs, they, too, will think fondly of the professor whose class gave them the idea to follow it in the first place.

For more information on making a gift to the Eli Broad College of Business, contact Senior Director of Development Vivian Leung at or call (517) 355-8504.

Author: Devon Barrett