MANKATO — At 26, Basil Janavaras was the youngest faculty member at the new MSU business college in 1969.
At 70, Janavaras is the oldest professor and about to retire from the college where he was instrumental in building an international business program.
A Greek immigrant who was only allowed to stay in the U.S. through special legislation in Congress, Janavaras established the International Business program and the International Business Institute, started successful businesses, lectured around the world, and taught many students who went on to take top roles in international business.
Later this month, many of those former students will honor Janavaras and speak at an international business conference in Mankato.
“I’m proud the university gave me the opportunity to teach and I’m proud of my students. I always took my students out to get hands-on learning, to world trade conferences in Chicago, to monthly seminars in Minneapolis, to conferences at 3M. I took them to Canada to Greece.”
Brenda Flannery, dean of the business college, said that when Janavaras started the international program in the 1970s, it was one of the first in the nation.
“He was really ahead of his time doing that. And Dr. (Margaret) Preska was instrumental in that, too,” said Flannery of the former MSU president.
“He’s a wonderful person. When I’m out and talking to alumni, he’s one of those faculty whose name keeps coming up, saying how much they admire him. He keeps in touch with people. He helped a lot of them get their first job.”
The international institute has helped mid-size businesses do business globally.
On April 25 former students will honor Janavaras at a dinner roast — “Roasted Basil” — and the Janavaras International Business Conference will take place April 26. Several former students who serve as executives of international companies will speak.