International Perspective

Thanks to an endowed professorship, international business scholar Dr. Balbir Bhasin now calls UAFS home

Dr. Balbir Bhasin“It was a big deal; it made a big difference,” says Dr. Balbir Bhasin of the Ross Pendergraft Endowed Professorship that helped bring him to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith this fall to teach international business and, ultimately, to develop an international business program. “It not only pays a portion of my salary, but it also helps fund my research, most of which takes place internationally.”


That research—on subjects like international trade and investment, cross-cultural variances, global entrepreneurship, and doing business in emerging markets—has been published in top-level scholarly journals and presented at gatherings of organizations like the Academy of International Business and the Society for Global Business and Economic Development.


Bhasin also brings extensive undergraduate and graduate teaching experience to UAFS, as well as 19 years in the international business world. Before he turned to teaching, he served as both president of a private investment bank based in Hong Kong and New York, and as CEO of an international business information company.


Bhasin, who is known for his practical, real-world teaching style, is already working with Neal Pendergraft—son of the late Ross Pendergraft, in whose honor Bhasin’s professorship is named, and a member of the UAFS Foundation board—to bring a top Procter & Gamble executive to campus to speak to UAFS business students. And Bhasin has plans to bring in even more business leaders from around the world. “They’ll know about us,” he says, “and we’ll learn about the rest of the world.”


In addition to developing new courses—International Management this fall, then Cross Cultural Relations in the spring and then, next fall, a new core course called Introduction to International Business—and working toward an international business major, Bhasin is also charged with simply providing the college and the university with a broader international perspective. It’s an ideal role for someone who has lived and worked in 12 countries and speaks six languages, including Chinese, Indonesian/Malay, and Urdu.


Competition is keen today for truly exceptional teacher-scholars like Dr. Bhasin, and endowed chairs and professorships can make a crucial difference. Thanks to a gift made in 2005 by Donnie D. Pendergraft, Ross Pendergraft’s wife, the university’s College of Business has been able to hire not only Bhasin, but also Dr. Amelia Baldwin, another outstanding teacher-scholar who holds the Neal Pendergraft Endowed Professor of Accounting.


“The Pendergraft gift,” says Dr. Steve Williams, dean of the College of Business, “has allowed the College of Business to recruit high-caliber faculty who might not otherwise come to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Endowed faculty like Dr. Bhasin in international business and Dr. Baldwin in accounting not only provide an enhancement to the standing of UAFS, they also serve as role models, mentors, and excellent teachers.”