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Mentor, friend, confidant

JMSB reflects on the life and legacy of Gregory Kersten
June 11, 2020
By John Molson School of Business

It is with great sadness, and an extremely heavy heart, that we announced the sudden passing of Gregory Kersten on May 26, 2020. Gregory joined the John Molson School of Business on July 1, 1999. The knowledge he brought with him, and created here, has had such an important impact on students, staff and faculty alike. He was a close friend and mentor to many across JMSB, but Gregory’s connection with the department of Supply Chain and Business Technology Management was especially profound.

Always a collaborator and friend, his loss is deeply felt by all who knew him.

“Gregory has played a special role in my life as he did for many of us,” says Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of the John Molson School of Business. “He encouraged me to take on my first administrative role, as graduate program director of the Graduate certificate in e-Business that we created together. I accepted this post, knowing that he would be there to support me, and was he ever!”

Many colleagues have shared their memories about how present and cheerful he was, and what a great mentor, friend, and confidant he was to many. “I'm grateful and thankful for having had Gregory cross my path,” remembers Ka Pong Law, Manager, Centre for Instructional Technology. “He was my mentor and a very good friend. He was always there to help me along my journey. Gregory was the kind of person who never said, “if you need anything, let me know”. He would not wait for you to reach out. Instead, he would hold your hand and walk with you through difficult times.”

“When I returned to teaching COMM 226, the core BTM course,” recalls Meral Buyukkurt, Professor, Supply Chain and Business Technology Management, “he shared all his mini cases and examples he was using in his section so that I could create in-class discussion questions using a technology that he wanted to use as well. During this process, I had a chance to re-connect with him and observe how much he cared about the quality of his teaching.”

“Gregory was a scholar and a gentleman,” remembers Lea Prevel Katsanis, Professor, Department of Marketing. “ I had the pleasure of working with him on various projects, and he always combined great insight with warmth and humour.  He will be greatly missed."

“Every week for as long as I could remember we would sit down and enjoy a wonderful cappuccino together and share our love for everything Italian,” says Eva Ferrara, Department Coordinator, Supply Chain and Business Technology Management. “Of course, the deal was that we would only speak Italian, which he knew pretty well.  The pandemic did not stop our cappuccino breaks [as we continued them virtually]. This is the type of person he was, kind, humble, and very generous.  I will miss him more than words can say, because he was genuine in all that he was and all that he did.”

Gregory had a profound impact on the future of the John Molson School of Business as well.

“I do not forget the speed of traffics when he, Anne-Marie (Croteau) and I, were communicating together to write a joint external grant to build a computer lab for our students,” says Jamshid Etezadi-Amoli, Professor, Supply Chain and Business Technology Management. “We were able to secure about 220K from NSERC that resulted in building a state of the art computer lab for our department and school at the GM building. He had numerous contributions to our school and university. He established collaborations with top researchers in Europe, Asia, US and South America and attracted millions of dollars of collaborative research funds.”

“Gregory was a remarkable, bright, and an extraordinary person, scholar, teacher, and a leader. He was the leading scholar in the areas of Group Decision and Negotiations, and a pioneer in introducing electronic negotiation systems,” remembers Rustam Vahidov, Chair, Supply Chain and Business Technology Management. “He had a massive collaboration network with leading researchers and research centers around the Globe. He was the one who would bring in energy and excitement when he would briskly walk into the department flocked by a group of graduate students, research assistants, international students and collaborators all vividly discussing details of an upcoming experiment, and also where to go for lunch. He was my long-time mentor, collaborator, and a friend.”

In 2011, Gregory founded the “Fundacja Kerstenów” (The Kersten Foundation) to continue the legacy of his parents, Adam and Krystyna.  In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to help fund a scholarship that the family will be creating in his name under the Kersten Foundation. 

Our thoughts are with his family and all those who knew him.

“You will be forever remembered in our hearts as a wonderful, kind, humorous and gentle soul.” –Norma Paradis, Budget Assistant, JMSB

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