Longtime MBA director retires

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Professor Gary Kohut taught over 25,000 students over his 40-year career.

After 40 years of teaching and service, Professor of Management Gary Kohut is ready for the next chapter in his life. 

“I am eager to try some different things,” said Kohut, who first joined the faculty at UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business in 1983. “Some people see retirement as an end, but I see it as moving to a different chapter in my book of life. I can’t wait to turn the page.”

Kohut, who served as the director of Charlotte’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program since 2009, retired on Dec. 31. 

Kohut, who had also served as program director for the dual MBA program with EGADE Business School since 2012, estimates he taught more than 25,000 students over the years. This includes over 6,000 MBA and Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) students.  

“I look back with gratitude,” he said. “I entered a profession dedicated to assisting young people achieve their potential, to revealing or finding their best selves. As I leave it, I am taking many of you with me. You will live on in my memories. I'll always remember the things we achieved together.”

In 2002, he received the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, one of the University’s top awards.

Belk College alumnus Al Segars ‘86, ‘90 MBA said Kohut has been an important mentor, friend and inspiration to him over his career. 

“I was very fortunate that our paths crossed,” said Segars, PNC Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Everything I have been able to accomplish in my career had its beginnings in the work Gary and I did together at UNC Charlotte. Gary’s sense of duty and dedication was something I benefited from and something I never forgot. To this day, I try to replicate Gary’s craftsmanship-like approach to research, teaching and service.” 

Rankings and Accolades 

A highlight for Kohut has been serving as director of the college’s nationally ranked MBA program for 12 years. 

“Our goal has always been to maintain an innovative, high quality, and rigorous program, and this certainly was made a lot easier by the energies of our internationally recognized faculty, our exceptional staff, and the superlative students who have comprised our enrollment over the years,” he said. “Together, we achieved a great number of recognitions during my tenure. It was a team effort.” 

Janaki Gooty, associate professor of management and the newly appointed director of the MBA program, said Kohut will leave tremendous shoes to fill. 

“Gary has been my mentor and friend ever since I interviewed at UNC Charlotte 11 years ago,” Gooty said. “He has a deep commitment to our students and the community. His guidance and mentorship has certainly helped me and many others evolve into better educators. Our MBA program is so much stronger because of his dedicated leadership over the years, and I'm grateful for his service."

The MBA program saw the largest enrollment in its history last fall, with additional growth expected in August with the launch of a fully online MBA.

An Evolving MBA 

Kohut said the biggest changes he’s seen over his career have been related to the rapid development of technology, changes only accelerated during the global pandemic.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything about higher education, it’s that you can be as effective online as you are in person,” he said. “In the workplace, too, employers are looking for adaptable professionals who can handle a hybrid environment and unexpected changes. As a result, modern MBAs are increasingly emphasizing soft skills that are necessary for personal and professional success.” 

Positive recent trends, he said, include more women and minorities exploring the benefits of an MBA as well as entrepreneurs. 

“As the MBA degree evolves, the key will be to ensure that the degree is innovative, flexible, and relevant,” he added. “As we are fond of saying in the Belk College of Business, the MBA is designed to not only help solve today’s problems but also the problems of the future.”

Opportunity and People

Kohut arrived at UNC Charlotte soon after completing his doctorate from Southern Illinois University.

“The major reasons why I chose to join UNC Charlotte and why I remained over the years can be best summed up with two words: opportunity and people,” Kohut said. “I was also able to research a wide variety of topics that helped to inform my teaching and expand my knowledge. I also developed a network of friends and associates throughout the University and beyond., connections that helped create a personable, curious and challenging environment that I believe is rarely realized.”

Kohut offers this word to former and current colleagues: “Thank you for pushing me professionally, lending a hand when I needed it, and for making it a pleasure to be at work every day.”

For his next phase, Kohut is looking forward to traveling to new places, catching up on reading, continuing animal rescue efforts, and spending time with his wife and children. He also plans to continue teaching part-time at the Belk College.

“In short, I plan to explore countless activities,” he added.

Dr. Gary Kohut receives the 2002 Bank of America Teaching Excellence Award.

Gary Kohut: Career Highlights

  • Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University
  • Joined the Belk College faculty in 1983
  • Charlotte MBA director: 2009-21
  • Director of the Dual MBA Program with EGADE Business School, Monterrey, Mexico: 2012-21
  • Co-author of three books: “Business Communication: A Functional Perspective,” “Contemporary Business Report Writing,” and “Write to Win”
  • Courses taught include: Negotiation and Conflict Management, Executive Communication, Leadership and the Business Environment Seminar, and Managerial Leadership
  • 2002 Bank of America Teaching Excellence Award
  • Delivered the first non-Mexican keynote at an international business symposium in Mazatlán, Mexico. 
  • Served as faculty coordinator for the The Forum for Corporate Conscience, a program of 120 CEOs hosted by retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. in 2003. 
About the Belk College of Business 
Established in 1970, UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business is one of the Carolinas’ largest business schools, with more than 5,100 students, more than 100 full-time faculty, and an alumni network of more than 34,000. Accredited by AACSB International, the college is committed to building strong partnerships in the greater Charlotte region and beyond as North Carolina's urban research business school. Learn more about how the Belk College is driving what’s next at belkcollege.charlotte.edu, and on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.