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Larry DeBrock

Becoming more learner centric–A journey to the future of higher education

Learners are demanding high quality higher education become more accessible, flexible and affordable. They are seeking out engaging online solutions that will help them grow in their current professions or switch careers. On the front line of responding to this revolution is Larry DeBrock, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics at Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is one of the architects of the college’s iMBA program, called “breakthrough” by Poets & Quants. DeBrock will share his experiences about evolving education for the digital space and identify ways to drive the advancements in pedagogy and educational models that will support learners of the future around the world.

Larry DeBrock served as ninth dean of Gies College of Business from 2009 to 2015. He has been a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1979.

DeBrock has been a longtime champion of technological advances, embracing the role of technology in higher education, and leading the College’s charge into fully democratizing online education. From both a leadership perspective as a dean and an instructor’s perspective as a professor, DeBrock understands the value of technology in the classroom. He has both advocated its use within the College and modeled its effective application for other instructors.

Under DeBrock’s leadership, the College’s online infrastructure was built, recording studios for online teaching were created, the eLearning office was established, and the iMBA program was conceptualized, approved, and created. The iMBA, launched in 2016, has been highly successful, and is the first online MBA degree program offered through Coursera.

DeBrock did more than support and oversee the iMBA; he was one of the first professors to teach in the program. His “Firm Level Economics: Consumer and Producer Behavior” course is one of the program’s highest-rated courses, with an average user rating of 4.8 out of 5. DeBrock has proven to be an online innovator, expertly blending content from multiple subject areas in his courses and engaging his students from around the world. He masterfully leverages technology offers by building his courses specifically for online learners, from whom he has consistently earned rave reviews.

Even though DeBrock has reached the summit of business education, he loves teaching Business 101, a foundational course for all Gies College of Business freshmen and transfer students. The course addresses ways to develop professional responsibility as an individual, in one’s career, and as a member of organizations that play a critical role in society. As a professor, he has touched the lives of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students across a spectrum of programs, including the full-time and professional MBA, the Executive MBA, the iMBA, guiding students on a path to discovering their purpose and putting that purpose into practice to make the world a better place.

DeBrock began his tenure as dean by opening of the Business Instructional Facility, the first building at any public university business school to receive LEED Platinum certification for its green design and construction. He advanced technology in the College through the creation of an online business minor, multiple online courses in partnership with Coursera, and the first-ever 3D printing lab in a college of business. His commitment to excellence led to the College’s continued accreditation in business and accounting by AACSB International (placing it among the top five percent of the world’s business programs), students’ education in professional responsibility through Business 101, faculty successes, partnerships with other institutions, the continuously high placement numbers of Gies Business Career Services, and the number of companies who recruit Gies students and alumni.

DeBrock, who earned his PhD in economics from Cornell University, has displayed a consistent record of outstanding achievement throughout his career. He has received numerous department, College, and University awards for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels from 1983 to the present. MBA students named him Faculty of the Year seven times, and he has won professional, graduate, and undergraduate campus teaching awards, and a teaching award from the Commerce Alumni Association. Over his 40-plus years at Illinois, DeBrock’s students have noted his gift for making complex economic concepts both compelling and understandable.

An internationally respected researcher and a nationally recognized economist, DeBrock focuses his research on health economics, industrial organization, and the labor market. He has served as a consultant and expert to several public panels. DeBrock is published in and has refereed top journals, including, among others, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Law and Economics, and the Journal of Labor Economics. DeBrock is an avid baseball fan and has written scholarly articles on such topics as labor management negotiations in major league baseball and the impact of salary distribution. 

About Gies College of Business
Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a world-class educational experience for the next generation of business leaders. For more than 100 years, the College has delivered on the promise of innovation in business education, with a commitment to cutting-edge curriculum design and delivery, exceptional experiential learning opportunities, and unparalleled academic excellence. Today our faculty prepare more than 7,000 students, including 3,100 undergraduates, to be at the forefront of innovation and leadership in the global economy.

Mary Kay Dailey, Executive Director of Communications, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, call +1 (217) 244-8706; email mkdailey@illinois.edu

Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign