Program Brings Expert in International HR Issues to Campus

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Executive-In-Residence for the College of Arts and Sciences, James J. Nealis III '69, former executive vice president of human resources for construction materials giant Lafarge North America, visited campus for the day on Wednesday, October 17. Now retired, Nealis and his wife recently established the Bernadette B. and James J. Nealis '69 Program in Asian Studies with their gift of $2.5 million. The interdisciplinary program will be housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. The program will begin at the start of the 2008-09 academic year and will replace the minor and certificate program in Asian Studies that are currently offered.

During his career, Nealis spent several years in Lafarge SA world headquarters in Paris as vice president for international development, HR. Among other duties, he was responsible for the direction and management of the selection and integration of new management teams in India, China, the Philippines and Indonesia as well as in Central Europe, Romania, Russia/CIS and South Africa. Nealis believes that increased diversity in the nation's classrooms, workplaces and communities, which includes immigrants from many different Asian countries, requires greater understanding of myriad cultures.

"Those with knowledge of world history, languages, global health and international affairs will be able to make informed decisions regarding domestic issues influenced by global circumstances," he said. "By the same token, with an entire generation lacking in this knowledge, the United States is in danger of putting itself at a competitive disadvantage."

During his visit to campus, Nealis will meet with students from both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Haub School of Business who have an interest in how different Asian cultures impact business practice in Asia. He will also visit several classes, including Introduction to East Asian Civilization, Legal Environment of Business, and Modern China.

"It was a great experience serving as the Executive in Residence," said Nealis. "I met with an impressive group of students throughout the day who were knowledgeable and very much interested in Asian studies."

--Patricia Allen

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