Dec. 2, 2020
A clinical associate professor of international business since 2010, Ostergaard also earned in 2016 his Ph.D. in business administration with an emphasis in international business from the Moore School. He has a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University and a Master of National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. Ostergaard is the only Moore School Ph.D. graduate to be retained or hired as an international business clinical faculty member immediately after graduation, said Kendall Roth, senior associate dean of international programs and partnership and chair of the Sonoco Department of International Business.
Ostergaard’s superiors and peers describe him as authentic, genuine, inspiring, engaged, passionate and dedicated. Many recount numerous instances when Ostergaard went above and beyond for students.
Stipulations for the 2020 Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors candidates are that they have a remarkable impact on students through quality and quantity of nominations; have a noteworthy influence on business practices, public policy, business trends, etc.; make impactful contributions to their respective fields; reach notable career milestones; have a unique teaching style or techniques; and have a noteworthy and highly recognized public profile or reputation.
Ostergaard received more than 20 nominations from his current and former students.
“He is simply a gifted master teacher, with capabilities beyond any other teacher I have evaluated or observed,” in more than 30 years at the Moore School, Roth said. “And this performance is uniform across his ten years of teaching at [UofSC].”
Ostergaard is part of a respected program that includes many students with SAT scores around the 1,500 range who are part of the UofSC Honors College. Admissions are highly selective and limited to just 150 students from locations throughout the U.S. and the world. The undergraduate international business program has been ranked No. 1 for 22 consecutive years, according to U.S. News & World Report. Roth noted that this reputation of the IB program shows that faculty have extremely high expectations for all students in the classroom.
“[Ostergaard] has an uncanny ability to bring out the best in each student, even when they are tired or the environment is very tense,”, said Carrie Queenan, a management science clinical associate professor who accompanied Ostergaard on a class trip to Israel.
At least a dozen of Ostergaard’s students in their recommendation letters for the Poets & Quants designation acknowledged that while Ostergaard is one of their most supportive and passionate instructors, his courses are also the most challenging in the curriculum.
“Ostergaard demands the absolute best from [his students] day in and day out. I would not hesitate to credit him with a large part of the prestige of the No. 1 ranking of our international business program,” said Nancy Jones, a rising senior majoring in international business and economics. “Any student who passes through one of his classes comes out on the other side changed: with an incredible sense of self-possession, a belief in their capability to do the hardest things out there that they did not have before, and their eyes open to the challenging subtleties of the business world.”
Jones and several of her peers raved in their nomination letters about the practical real-world examples Ostergaard provides in his lectures.
“His teaching was unique and engaging because it was relevant. I knew why I was learning what I was learning and could see why I needed this knowledge through events that were happening in the world every day,” said Avery Venetta, a rising junior majoring in finance and international business. “Ostergaard deserves this award because he had what I consider to be a superhuman ability in sensing what needs to be taught and how it needs to be taught.”
Beyond the classroom, students lauded Ostergaard’s seemingly tireless ability to create networking opportunities for students and even alumni to build community.
He hosts regular barbecues at his home for more than 100 students and knows all of the attendees by name, said Andrew Spicer, international business associate professor. After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all in-person activities, he organized weekly virtual meetings that included Tuesday company panels, Thursday language tables and Friday happy hours for the remainder of the spring semester. He manages a highly active private Facebook group for international business students and alumni with more than 1,100 members; on this page, they discuss everything from career advice to current events.
“I have never had a professor as talented as Ostergaard, who could engage students to the level at which he does, inside and outside the classroom,” said Taylor Bilardello, a 2018 alumna who majored in international business and global supply chain management. “He achieves this level of engagement by seeing and acknowledging the excellence and value of each of his students, thereby reminding them of their responsibilities as the next generation of international business leaders.”
While Ostergaard’s enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring students is practically unmatched, according to his students and colleagues, his resume before he began on the faculty at the Moore School is equally impressive.
In addition to running multiple international consulting firms, Ostergaard served as one of the youngest captains of the U.S. Coast Guard and acted as the executive director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council. He said he has visited 77 countries over the course of his career.
“Ostergaard successfully weaved his real-world experiences into his curriculum and went to great lengths to extend valuable advice for our future careers,” said Sekani Adebimpe, a rising junior majoring in international business and marketing. “Yet despite his great qualifications, he engaged students with such humility and respect that I have rarely encountered throughout the entirety of my education.”
Regarding the award, Ostergaard said he appreciates the Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors recognition.
“One of the interesting aspects of being a professor is that we do not necessarily see the influence we are making on students,” he said. “We hope that the life lessons we are imparting are being absorbed, but the challenge of creating leaders for the future is that the future is where the impacts will oftentimes be found. To have so many current and former students nominate me for this award is absolutely humbling.”