Former FAU Dean Gary Luing Passes Away
Gary Luing, Ph.D., former dean of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and Public Administration, died this month at his home in Lake Wales. He was 82.
Luing’s wife of 65 years, Sherry, said he was trading stocks, one of his favorite pastimes in retirement, when he suffered a heart attack.
“It was just his time,” she said. “He was a man of great integrity and honor, and a family man who trusted God. That’s the best legacy you can have.”
Luing was appointed dean at age 32 in 1969, at that time becoming the youngest in Florida to serve in the post. In 1971, Luing and Darab Unwalla, Ph.D., started an executive master’s program in business administration, one of the first in the country. Luing built the foundation that later propelled the college to establish itself as a national brand.
In the early 1980s, Luing oversaw the then-College of Business and Public Administration’s first accreditation by the American Assembly of Colleges and Schools of Business. Both the graduate and undergraduate programs were accredited at the same time, a significant accomplishment. The public administration program was later moved to FAU’s former College for Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs.
He also started a joint-Ph.D. program with Florida International University in 1987, and facilitated a $1 million donation for the first Eugene and Christine Lynn Eminent Scholar in Business in 1983.
The overwhelming choice of the faculty for the position was William Lazer, Ph.D., a former president of the American Marketing Association, adviser to the White House on trade policy and distinguished scholar at Michigan State University.
“But Dr. Lazer had to be convinced,” said Eric H. Shaw, Ph.D., emeritus professor of business and an associate dean under Luing, as well as a protégé and friend. “Gary and Eugene wined and dined him until he agreed to come as a visiting professor for a semester to make up his mind. At the end of the semester, he had decided to become our first eminent scholar.”
After 18 years, Luing stepped down as dean in 1987, and remained as a professor on the accounting faculty until retiring in 2002 after 37 years at FAU. He and Sherry moved to Lake Wales, where he enjoyed ornamental gardening.
“When I became the new dean of FAU’s College of Business in 2013, Gary was very helpful to me,” said Daniel Gropper, Ph.D. “He called and welcomed me to FAU, shared his insights, was available whenever I wanted to talk. He also stopped by my office on campus about once a year. He was a scholar and a gentleman, and he left a very positive legacy here.”
Colleagues remembered Luing for his esteemed service and wry wit. He once warned Shaw that other faculty members would tease him that his promotion to associate dean would be like “a mouse in training to become a rat.”
“That cracked me up,” Shaw said. “Sure enough, I heard the joke from several colleagues.”
Shaw also said Luing made sure at the time that accounting professor Tom Costello and management professor Jerry Abbott shared an office so that the sign on the door could read “Abbott and Costello.” But he referred to them as simply Tom and Jerry, Shaw said.
Dick Schmidt of Boca Raton came to FAU from Chicago in 1968, serving as a graduate assistant while getting a master’s degree in business administration. The Schmidt family is FAU’s top benefactor, with the College of Arts and Letters named for Dick’s mother, Dorothy, and the College of Science and College of Medicine named for his father, Charles. Additionally, the grand opening for the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence is expected soon.
In 1970, when the time came for Dick Schmidt to take a job back in the Windy City, he was commiserating with Luing, who told him he had done well teaching and offered him a chance to stay as an assistant professor of accounting. Startled at his good fortune, Schmidt asked Luing why he wanted to hire him.
“He said, ‘Because you’ll work cheap,’” Schmidt remembered with a laugh. “He became a mentor and a great friend.”
In addition to his wife, Luing is survived by his daughter, Heather Luing, M.D.; son-in-law Daniel Aflalo; and grandchildren Tristan, Nathaniel and Lillian Aflalo.