Professor Greg Osland received his first taste of learning about cultures of the world when he completed a study abroad trip to Mexico while completing his undergraduate degree. Since then, Osland has visited 40 countries and spent at least six years of his adult life living abroad. He may be retiring from teaching full-time, but his sense of adventure and his thirst for knowledge about cultures beyond his own will still be hard at work.
“I don’t view retirement as slowing down but rather doing a different set of things,” he said.
Osland already has booked four flights for next year. These include a trip to Colorado to visit family, a family trip to New England, a flight to Atlanta to present at an academic conference, and a two-week trip to Uganda to help with a few economic development projects.
Most of his upcoming trips are for personal or pro-bono consulting travel, something Osland hasn’t typically done. The majority of his time spent abroad has been for work or research. Prior to earning his Ph.D. at Michigan State University, he spent three years in China working for a business consulting company developing and delivering Executive Education programs. This experience was part of the reason he pursued a Ph.D. in International Marketing.
Professor Dick Fetter, a friend and colleague of Osland’s for 25 years, said that when they hired Osland in 1993, international business was a relatively new concept in business schools.
“Greg has really brought a global perspective not just to the classroom, but to the campus as well,” Fetter said.
Although known as the “China expert” across campus, Osland has developed interests, over time, in other parts of the world, particularly Latin America. In 2007, he and a few other colleagues helped to develop a course as part of the core curriculum titled “Frontiers in Latin America.”
“I’ve enjoyed teaching that course because it integrates a number of disciplines and I’m a little more eclectic than just marketing,” Osland said. “It allows me to do some other things with other elements of learning.”
Fetter confirmed Osland’s view of himself when he recounted the time Osland came to him in early 2000s asking to take his sabbatical with his family to learn the Spanish language in Mexico.
Fetter, dean of the College of Business at the time, was a bit taken aback.
“I barely have conquered the English language,” Fetter joked. “And here Greg had conquered the country of China and the Mandarin language and now he was ready to move on to another language in a different part of the world.”
Fetter was impressed. Osland did two more sabbaticals abroad, one in Costa Rica and the other in Panama.
Osland’s newfound excitement for Latin America has been passed on to his students as well—especially one. Alicia Helfrich ’16 was one of Osland’s advisees and students, and she can vividly recount Osland’s impact on her understanding of the world, and ultimately her interest in working in Latin America.
When she was deciding between studying abroad in Spain or Chile, Osland recommended Chile because of his own experiences there.
“After some debate, I decided to take his advice and can say it was one the best decisions I have ever made,” Helfrich said. “I had a life-altering experience in Chile, gained fluency, and returned with a mission to work in the region again post-graduation.”
Now, Helfrich works for a non-profit in Guatemala City. If it wasn’t for Osland’s guidance to study abroad, she says she wouldn’t be in her current role or discovered some of her greatest passions.
Beyond Osland’s travels, he and his wife, Joyce, have been heavily involved with not-for-profit organizations, both locally and all over the world. Osland even started his own 501(c)(3) when he was living in Noblesville, titled Project Eden.
The organization’s mission is to “reconnect people with the creation, and to restore broken ecosystems,” Osland said. Ultimately the non-profit aims to reconnect people with nature through gardening, nature hikes, planting trees, and ecological restoration projects. Grace Church now carries out all Project Eden’s initiatives.
In retirement Osland plans to continue volunteering with various organizations; spend time with his parents and three daughters, Katie, Beth, and Dianne; stay connected to Butler by teaching a class every now and again; doing Executive Education; or maybe even administrative work.
Plus, he loves Butler basketball, has season tickets, and loves walking to the games with his wife.
“There are a lot of opportunities to continue to engage with Butler,” he said.
Although Osland retired as a Professor of Marketing at the end of May, he has continued on as a full-time part of the faculty and staff of the LSB. On June 1 he began a new role as the LSB Director of Assessment of Learning (AOL), while also engaging with the School as Professor Emeritus of Marketing. He looks forward to working with the faculty and administration to help develop an AOL process that will be useful, manageable, and sustainable in enhancing student learning and improving our programs.