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Gabel, new marketing professor, may just be one of a kind

Barry McNamara
Terry Gabel is shown during the height of his arm wrestling prowess in 1984. The image was used in August for a booklet published for the Consumer Culture Theory conference in Oxford, England.
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There may be a few poet/arm wrestlers in the world today, but when “business professor” is added to the combination, there can be only one match – the newest member of Monmouth College’s business faculty, Terry Gabel.
Last month, Gabel learned that eight of his poems were printed in a booklet published in conjunction with the Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) conference in Oxford, England, in August. Three of the poems were read at the event, although Gabel was not able to attend, due to his move from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith to Monmouth, where he is an associate professor of political economy and commerce (PEC).
“It would have been great to attend and read at the conference at Oxford, but the timing was not right,” said Gabel, who has won three teaching awards at three very different schools. “I had to first attend to getting my family and I moved in and then getting myself ready to start teaching classes, because I have very high expectations for myself in the classroom.
After two months of classes, Gabel reports he is still adapting to his new surroundings.
“Probably my biggest single challenge so far has been incorporating key aspects of a services marketing class I have taught for the past five years into the 400-level entrepreneurship class I am teaching now,” he said. “These aspects of the class – including the dimensions of service quality, how customer satisfaction occurs and how to handle dissatisfaction – were among the most important things I ever learned as a student. I feel that they are issues that many people in the early stages of running their own businesses often overlook. I want these issues etched permanently into my students’ minds, just as they were mine when I was a student.”   
Gabel has also had CCT etched into his mind. He explained it as the study of the cultural effects of consumption, which is essentially “the use of products, broadly defined. That can include music, healthcare and all sorts of things. CCT studies the importance and meaning of consumption.”
The CCT movement is a spin-off from consumer research, which began to take off around 1970.
“Consumer research was viewed as a radical segment of marketing at the time, involving things like qualitative research,” Gabel said. “CCT is a radical element that sprang out from that somewhere in the middle of the last of the decade.”
One of his verses reads:
“Crosswalk guards and baby pacifiers yield so much for so little
The opposite of too many things we so far more highly value.”
Gabel earned his master’s degree in marketing at Texas A&M University and his undergraduate degree in marketing from the University of Iowa, where he won the intramural arm wrestling title in 1984. At the time, the legendary Dan Gable coached the Hawkeyes’ wrestling program, and Gabel defeated one of Gable’s team members in the quarterfinal.
“It’s more triceps than anything,” explained Gabel. “You need a strong, quick wrist and forearm strength. If you can turn quick and get ’em turned so it’s your triceps vs. their biceps, that’s the key.”
Currently, Gabel is more poet than arm wrestler.
“I had shoulder surgery about 15 months ago,” said Gabel. “They basically had to reattach my arm. So I can’t do the arm wrestling now.”
Gabel, who grew up in Keokuk, Iowa, added, “Coming back to the area is a very welcome homecoming for me in more ways than the obvious geographical. It is also an intellectual homecoming – particularly with respect to the CCT poetry – given that Monmouth is a liberal arts school and that the PEC department is not your typical ‘strict practical applications/trade skills’ business school. I welcome returning to an environment where I can comfortably be myself and stray from the well-trodden scholarly path in search of understanding and knowledge.”
That off-road mentality took Gabel to Mexico for a year while doing his doctoral work in marketing at the University of Memphis.
“I still have lots of connections down there,” said Gabel, who met his wife during his time abroad.
Gabel also spent several years in Houston, Texas, serving as a product manager for the “biggest bank in Texas” and as a marketing director for an international trade company.
In addition to his teaching duties at Monmouth, Gabel is taking the lead on the college’s efforts to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP), a specialized accrediting organization that reviews the quality and integrity of business degree programs.
“ACBSP accreditation improves your image in the eyes of all your stakeholders, and it’s good for your students, too,” said Gabel. “Students who aspire to go to graduate school in business really benefit when their college has been accredited by the ACBSP.”
Maybe Gabel can find a way to get CCT, PEC and ACBSP into the same poem. After all, they do rhyme.