University-Industry Engagement Week

U Louisville offers special cocktail of training programs for distilled spirits industry

By David Schwartz
Published: January 23rd, 2023

A detailed article on the University of Louisville’s customized engagement offerings for the distilled spirits industry appears in the January issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here.

Universities are continuing to invest in efforts to build out industry partnerships by adding adult continuing education to their offerings, and the University of Louisville has distilled that strategy into a toast-worthy mix of executive education and workforce-boosting programs with help from its partner Beam Suntory (maker of Jim Beam) and other bourbon industry behemoths.

The UofL strategy to very specifically target a major local industry with customized education for its workforce is an excellent illustration of how tailoring industry engagement efforts to the specialized needs of partners can help build long-lasting ties and deeper corporate relationships. 

Louisville’s distilled spirits offerings run the gamut between courses for the area’s bourbon industry employees who may have no advanced academic background at all and leadership classes for MBA candidates. The university’s investment, says Bob Hausladen, MBA, who spearheads Louisville’s programs, is surprisingly affordable.

“In terms of finance, the money you put in is just the money to pay your faculty. Almost everyone on our program’s faculty came from the industry,” says Hausladen, who himself worked in the liquor industry for about 30 years.

Enticing industry leaders into the ranks of professors is easier than it sounds. Ever since Hausladen, Louisville’s College of Business executive-in-residence and director of the Distilled Spirits Business Certificate Program, was enrolled in an MBA program, he envisioned a future for himself in academia and took the step of teaching at a small, local college. When retirement loomed, he reached out to U Louisville’s business faculty and came aboard.

But conventional offerings, says Virginia Denny, assistant dean for executive education at Louisville, weren’t making the most of what Hausladen had to offer — they weren’t tapping into his exceptional knowledge of the state’s bourbon industry. “You’ve got to have a leader who is a faculty member,” she says. “And we already had Bob Hausladen.”

When the business school’s most recent dean suggested to Denny, “Let’s leverage what makes Louisville, Louisville,” she and others thought of the Blue Grass state’s brown liquor history and approached Hausladen. “We kind of dreamed it together,” she says.

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Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week