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Marketing professor Brenda Sternquist remembered as renowned scholar, impactful teacher

By Chelsea Stein
Monday, June 26, 2023

On June 5, the Broad College lost a beloved faculty member: Brenda Sternquist, professor of marketing, passed away.

Brenda Sternquist headshot

Brenda Sternquist, professor of marketing

Sternquist was a faculty member at Michigan State University for 45 years, serving in the Broad College’s Department of Marketing since 2012. She was a specialist in international retailing and was renowned for her expertise in this space, advancing important theories and publishing several books with a focus on China, India and Japan.

“The loss of professor Brenda Sternquist is irreplaceable for the marketing department,” Suman Basuroy, chairperson of the department, said. “She was a true scholar, teacher and world traveler. As poet Antonio Machado wrote, ‘Traveler, there is no road; you make own your path as you walk.’ Brenda walked and created her own beautiful path. We remain grateful for her lifelong dedication to MSU, inspiring generations of students, scholars and colleagues.”

Sternquist worked with several colleagues to build the retailing program at MSU. At its zenith, the major had more than a thousand students at all degree levels. She was a trailblazer in developing curriculum on international retailing and culture and how the two intertwined. Colleagues who worked with her said, “Brenda was a master teacher. She was dedicated to developing unique, high-quality courses and curricula based on a solid foundation of research. She was an exceptional role model for aspiring young educators and industry professionals.”

Through grants, she often traveled the world to collect data on the emerging economies of Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East, bringing these experiences back into the classroom. Sternquist also represented the university by presenting research papers internationally and teaching in Dubai.

“Brenda was an extraordinary colleague. She was very committed to working with students, always ready to help and a genuinely kind person.”

Over the course of her distinguished career, Sternquist received many prizes and awards for her excellence in research and teaching, including being selected as the first Outstanding National Retail Educator in 2004 by the National Retail Federation, Center for Retail Studies at Texas A&M and JCPenney. At MSU, she was recognized frequently for her exceptional work, notably earning the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1999 — the highest award given to faculty for outstanding achievements in research, teaching and service.

“Brenda was an extraordinary colleague,” Richard Spreng, associate dean for undergraduate programs and United Shore Financial Services Faculty Fellow in Sales, said. “She was very committed to working with students, always ready to help and a genuinely kind person. But beyond her professional accomplishments, she was the consummate hostess, convening the marketing department in her home for a variety of parties over the years. She cared deeply about creating a culture of belonging for both faculty and staff, and she will be greatly missed.”

Sternquist enjoyed gathering with friends, colleagues and loved ones and was a lifelong Christian. She was active in many charities and causes, including the Zonta Club of East Lansing. During the last 12 years, she became particularly committed to MSU’s College of Music. Her impact and enthusiasm will be deeply missed.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University, master’s from the University of Alberta and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy for the Sternquist family may be shared at

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