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ISNU alum establishes endowed accounting graduate fellowship

Gary Gemberling

Gary Gemberling graduated from Illinois State Normal University in 1963 with a degree in business administration.  He remembers every professor he took classes from during his four years on campus, but one professor stands out foremost in his memory.

“Dr. Raymond Esworthy, the only accounting teacher at ISNU, became a big influence in my life,” says Gemberling.  “He was the primary reason I decided to become a certified public accountant.”

Gemberling says the things he learned from Esworthy and other professors on campus helped him become a dedicated student who was determined to pursue his interest in accounting.  “ISNU did not offer enough accounting courses in those days to allow me to sit for the CPA exam,” says Gemberling.  “I picked up correspondence courses while in the military during the Vietnam War and then attended DePaul University while working at Arthur Anderson in Chicago after the war.  The classes I took at ISNU gave me the proper foundation and interest to continue my education and obtain the courses I needed to sit for and pass the CPA exam.”

That determination has certainly paid off for Gemberling.  It has also kept him busy.  He is presently the owner of Gemberling & Associates CPAs, a full-service accounting firm located in Minier, Ill.  He is also a partner in O & G Financial Consulting; the chairman of the board of First Farmers State Bank; and has served as the chief financial officer of Malcolm Group, Inc., an international manufacturing and marketing firm, since its inception more than 30 years ago.

It has been said that the more things you have to do, the more you get done.  In addition to his busy and varied career, Gemberling is involved in many fraternal, professional, religious and social organizations.  “I have always been involved in community activities as my way of giving back.  I also enjoy the association with other people who have similar interests.”  Gemberling is also an active and committed alumnus of Illinois State.  His affinity for the University began very early in his student days after he arrived on campus from his hometown of Armington, Ill.

“When I started at ISNU in 1959, enrollment was about 4,500 students.  However, I came from a town of 300 people and a graduating class of 16 at a high school with 48 students, so I had never seen so many people all in one place,” says Gemberling.  Despite his initial shock, he quickly settled in and made the most of his time at the University.  “I lived off campus in an upstairs room in a personal residence with seven other students.  I loved my classes and the school routine.  One of my friends got me involved in many extracurricular activities, so the school soon became home for me.  I also loved the Business department.”

Today, Gemberling brings his business experience to the table as a member of the University’s Foundation Board and serves on the Board’s investment and development committees.  He also plays an active role in supporting the mission of the College of Business, and specifically the Accounting department.  Like his overall affinity for the University, his affinity for business and accounting education is personal.  Just as Raymond Esworthy influenced him, Gemberling has seen a long-time friend influence the accounting careers of many Illinois State students.

A few years ago, Gemberling made a generous gift to the Accounting department to establish an endowed graduate accounting fellowship in the name of his ISNU classmate, Herbert Sieg, now a retired accounting professor.  The fellowship is awarded to high achieving fifth-year graduate students who are preparing for careers in professional accountancy.  Gemberling is currently working with the College of Business to raise additional funds to enhance the fellowship.

As a student, Gemberling saw the importance of being an active member of the campus community and he feels that active engagement should continue after students graduate and move on with their lives.  He feels alumni have a lot to contribute to the mission of the University.  “Because of my associations within the College of Business and the Foundation Board and its committees, I see the importance and value of alumni involvement in the life of Illinois State,” says Gemberling.  “Alumni represent the past, present and future of the University.  Active involvement by alumni is an absolute necessity in the University’s future as it makes the necessary changes to reflect society and maintain academic excellence.”