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Knighthood for Waissi

February 06, 2007

Gary WaissiGary Waissi, dean of ASU's School of Global Management and Leadership at the West campus, has earned recognition as Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland.

The recognition was awarded by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, and is based on civilian accomplishments while Waissi served as Honorary Consul of Finland in Michigan from 1998 to 2006. He received a call from Osmo Lipponen, Consul General of Finland in New York, with the news and will receive his medal in a ceremony in New York this month.

“This is a real surprise, but also a great honor,” says Waissi, who joined ASU in June from the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he served as dean of the School of Management. “I thought it might be a practical joke of some sort, but because the call came directly from the Consul General, I knew it could not be a joke. I have never received recognition of this magnitude; this is very special and very rewarding.”

The Order of the LionThe Order of the Lion of Finland was founded Sept. 11, 1942. It was introduced to compliment the prestigious Order of the White Rose of Finland and to facilitate the awarding of honors for military and civilian merit. The president of Finland wears the Star of the Order of the Lion of Finland and is Grand Master of the order.

“In order to receive this honor, which is among the highest honors awarded, the candidate has to contribute significantly in the areas of cultural and scientific exchanges, collaborative research exchanges, as well as business and trade relations between Finland and the United States,” says Consul General Lipponen. “Dr. Waissi has had a high and active profile representing Finland in Michigan and in the greater Detroit metropolitan area, and he has contributed greatly to the activities of one of the largest Finnish-American communities in the USA.”

During Waissi's tenure as Honorary Consul, the international educator worked to increase collaborative activities between his native Finland and the state of Michigan, primarily in the areas of cultural exchanges, art and architecture. Additionally, Waissi introduced a series of student and scholar exchanges between universities in Michigan and Finland.

“We were able to make collaborative connections and increase the interest at many levels between Michigan and Finland and even between the United States and Finland,” said Waissi, who speaks five languages and earned his doctorate in engineering with an emphasis on operations research, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. “The Finnish immigrant Eliel Saarinen designed the master plan and several buildings at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts and the Cranbrook Museum in Bloomfield Hills (MI), so we built off that collaboration and used such examples as we promoted a greater partnership between the state and Finland. On a larger scale, Saarinen's son, Eero Saarinen, was the architect behind the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. ”

Waissi's contributions as Honorary Consul mirror a professional résumé that is international in scope. In 2005 he taught at the International Business School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. During that time, he also participated in an executive education General Management Program and delivered faculty workshops on topics including online learning and interactive teaching techniques. Other international and domestic projects include assessing degree program curricula for Tampere University of Technology, Finland; conducting online teaching and learning sessions for Bankworld, Inc. executives in Washington, D.C.; and evaluating statistical and modeling of Discovery, VISA and Mastercard for Asset Acceptance Corporation in Troy, Mich. 

Before his appointment as dean of U-M's School of Business, Waissi served as chair of the Department of Management. Prior to that appointment, he worked with Philipp Holzmann AG in its headquarters in Frankfurt/Main Germany and in Nigeria . More recently he has consulted with higher education institutions in developing countries such as Rwanda and Uzbekistan .

The School of Global Management and Leadership at ASU's West campus provides multiple learning experiences to students, the community and the profession through a learning environment based on innovative programs, applied learning, research and collaboration with the community derived from faculty-based discovery, dissemination and application research.