Gerstacker Institute set to celebrate 50 years of student success

Alumni will return to the Albion campus Nov. 10-11 to tell their success stories and celebrate the Institute's 50th anniversary.

October 26, 2023

From entrepreneurial pursuits to international business, the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management at Albion College has helped many students find their path to success.

Many of those alumni will return to the Albion campus Nov. 10-11 to tell their success stories and celebrate the Institute’s 50th anniversary.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” said Roy Mathews, director of the Institute. “This is a program of distinction and a value-add for our students, who go on to make a significant impact on the workforce. The Institute provides personal and professional skills, internships and experiential learning opportunities, not to mention a vast network of more than 1,300 alumni who are eager to help mentor our students.”

Dr. Vicki Baker, chair of the Economics and Management Department, has worked closely with the Gerstacker Institute through the years and helped plan the celebration.

“The Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management (formerly known as professional management) has been a model for business education rooted in the liberal arts for five decades,” said Baker. “Through a rich and vibrant history, we have engaged brilliant faculty and staff and positioned ourselves on the forefront of business education and developed cutting edge business leaders who are visible in their communities.”

The institute has two special public events planned for the celebration that will focus on the many success stories of the Institute and provide a forum for current students and alumni to make connections. 

The first public event will be a business version of “Brit Talks” Friday, Nov. 10 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Norris 101. Four Gerstacker alumni will share their business insights and post-graduate experiences, including: Josh Sales ’06, president and founder of CreateMyTee; John Pearce ‘11, portfolio manager at Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; Caroline Hurteau ’12, executive director of INNOVATE Albion and community liaison for Caster Concepts, Inc.; and Natalie Krausse ’18, program director for Aladdin.

The second public event will be “Gerstacker Through the Ages,” a panel discussion Saturday, Nov. 11 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the old bank building in downtown Albion, featuring alumni from each of the past five decades sharing their experiences. Through this panel, Mathews hopes to document how the Institute has grown over the years. Moderated by Mathews, the panel will feature Rick Lange ‘70, retired, State of Michigan, Michigan National Corporation and Plante and Moran; Eileen Smith ’86, senior vice president of data and analytics at Cboe Global Markets; Heather Luciani ‘94, chief strategy officer with Honor Credit Union; Meaghan (Walters) Cole ’09, Oakland University School of Business Experiential Program Manager; Blake DeCarlo ’09, account executive with Bella Exhibits and Retail; Jacob Lee ‘10, client results executive for Sentrics; and Ellie Debo ’22, business data analysis at CMU Health in Saginaw.

There is no cost to attend either event.

“The Economics and Management Department and the Gerstacker Institute have had a long-standing relationship since Gerstacker’s Founding,” said Baker. “While that relationship has evolved throughout the decades, the foundation of that relationship has remained intact, which is the delivery of a strong business education rooted in the liberal arts.”

Despite its business focus, the Gerstacker Institute welcomes students from every major and provides all students with learning experiences critical to success after graduation. “Most of our students are connected to business or are minoring in business, but we have computer science majors and biology minors,” added Mathews. “These are students who develop the personal and professional skills that employers are looking for and who can hit the ground running when they get into an organization.”

John Pearce ‘11, who will participate in the Friday Brit Talks panel, majored in mathematics and economics and minored in business. Coming to Albion from far away and with little future direction, he credits the Institute for creating for him a “tight-knit and caring community” that helped him to “blossom into a man who knew where he wanted to head next.” According to Pearce, “I would not be who I am today without the friends and mentors I was blessed with at Albion. The staff and faculty involved in the program went above and beyond in supporting me in my four years at Albion and thereafter.” 

Among those individuals who made the biggest impact for Pearce was former Institute Coordinator, Gina Cornacchia. “One individual deserves a special callout,” he said. “I spent countless hours receiving free career, academic and life advice from Gina.” 

And like many Gerstacker students, past and present, Pearce said the internship experience provided through Gerstacker was critical to his career success. “The single most important impact Gerstacker made on my career was the internship requirement,” Pearce said. “Like most of my classmates, I spent my junior year looking for internship opportunities. The Gerstacker Institute office helped put me in touch with an Albion alumnus who was a partner at an institutional investment management firm that had a quantitative equity portfolio management team.”

Established in 1973, the Institute is named for former Dow Chemical Chairman of the Board, Carl A. Gerstacker, who believed in high ethical standards and a commitment to people as the key component to a successful business. The Institute provides students with the opportunity to participate in professional development opportunities, internships, and global travel.