News and Analysis


Doug Guthrie

Updated: July 17, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.

The ousted dean of GW’s business school was one of the architects behind D.C.’s latest plan to kickstart the local economy.


Doug Guthrie, former dean of the GW School of Business, helped craft Gray’s economic plan. Hatchet File Photo

Doug Guthrie, who was fired from the deanship last August after the school overspent its budget by $13 million, spent the last eight months as part of a working group that crafted a three-year economic plan in the final year of Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration.

Guthrie left the University on June 30 to “pursue other professional opportunities,” University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said. He is now a visiting scholar at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Gray announced Wednesday the new strategy, which aims to spur development and start-up innovation. He brought Guthrie on as an adviser in December, just four months after he was fired for allegedly mismanaging the business school’s budget.

After losing in the April Democratic primary to Muriel Bowser, Gray’s economic strategy will go into effect in the final months of a lame duck administration.

If successful, the plan would create 10,000 jobs over the next three years while expanding the city’s tax base.

Vincent Gray, mayor

Mayor Vincent Gray announced a three-year economic development plan Wednesday. Hatchet File Photo.

The advisory group that crafted the strategy also included economic advisers in the deputy mayor’s office and consultants from the Kellogg consulting firm. They conducted 133 interviews with civic and business communities across the city, according to the release.

“The future of the creative economy in Washington, DC, is tied to visionary entrepreneurs and artists who have built it thus far, and government leaders like Mayor Gray who recognized that the District’s promise lies in its ability to draw creative individuals and innovative companies and nonprofits to its borders,” Guthrie said in the release. He did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014 4:44 p.m.

Business students collaborate with SEC

Updated: June 3, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

This post was written by contributing news editor Jacqueline Thomsen.

Graduate business school students will spend the summer drawing up recommendations for the Securities and Exchange Commission about how to improve public disclosure of Fortune 500 companies’ financial records.

Eight students will review the annual financial statements of almost 50 companies before submitting a report in October to the federal agency’s top official, according to a release. They will suggest improvements to Form 10-K, the annual disclosure form for public companies.

The project, a collaboration between the University’s Institute for Corporate Responsibility and the Center for Audit Quality, a D.C.-based nonprofit, launched after SEC chair Mary Jo White called for investor-friendly improvements to the disclosure form.

Cynthia Glassman, a former commissioner and senior researcher at the Institute for Corporate Responsibility, and the Center for Audit Quality’s executive director will advise the students.

The University has looked to raise the business school’s profile and jolt fundraising after former dean Doug Guthrie was fired last year. GW announced last week that Linda Livingstone, dean of Pepperdine University’s business school, will replace Guthrie.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the last name of the incoming business school dean. It is Livingstone, not Graziado. Livingstone is currently the dean of the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University. We regret this error.

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Linda Livingstone will serve as dean of the GW School of Business starting in August. Photo courtesy of GW media relations.

Linda Livingstone will serve as dean of the GW School of Business starting in August. Photo courtesy of GW media relations.

Updated: May 27, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.

A dean who has steered Pepperdine University’s business school for a decade will take control of the business school at GW, the University announced Tuesday.

Linda Livingstone, dean of the Graziadio School of Business, will lead GW’s school about a year after her predecessor was suddenly fired for mismanaging a multi-million dollar budget. The long-serving dean has launched four new degrees and a series of online degree programs during her tenure.

A professor who attended Livingstone’s presentation to business school faculty in the spring said her vision for the school includes more collaboration with GW’s other colleges, enhancing its global positioning and focusing on public policy and entrepreneurship.

“Working with the faculty and staff to build on a strong foundation of programs and research to continue to enhance the quality and reputation of the school will be a privilege,” Livingstone said in a release.

Livingstone has overseen a quick rise in rankings, with the Pepperdine school now boasting a No. 76 MBA program. She is also known for championing women in business and will be the GW school’s first female dean since Susan Phillips stepped down in 2010 after 12 years in the school’s top post.

Provost Steven Lerman said in an interview Tuesday that Livingstone’s experience in creating new programs and courting donors set her apart from other candidates.

“When you have that opportunity with someone with such a great track record, and you have a school making the transition with an interim dean, it’s hopeful that a sitting dean – all else equal – can hit the ground running faster,” Lerman said.

When she arrives in Foggy Bottom, Livingstone will enter a dean orientation program that was piloted this year after Ben Vinson took over the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Livingstone expanded Pepperdine’s business programs across six campuses, an accomplishment that Lerman said she could use as a model at a school that is looking to increase online offerings.

Lerman has pointed to online programs as a way to bring enrollment across GW’s colleges back to historic levels. As the University expects about 2 percent fewer graduate students to enroll this year, he said the programs could attract more working professionals hoping to earn another degree.

Livingstone will lead seven departments that have spent a year waiting for a new leader. Former dean Doug Guthrie was fired last August after top leaders discovered that the school had overspent its budget by $13 million.

Guthrie had invested more than University leaders anticipated in online and executive education programs, which he said could have eventually increased revenues but required larger start-up costs. The plan put him at odds with top administrators, who said they fired him because they and Guthrie failed to compromise over the future of the school.

Guthrie was also the subject of several investigations in the University’s legal office. Scheherazade Rehman, last year’s Faculty Senate executive committee chair, claimed Guthrie had inappropriate sexual relationships with senior officials and was skimming money off the top of GW’s funds to start a campus in China.

One of Livingstone’s first tasks will be to solve the school’s budget woes, and she will meet faculty who are planning to ask for more control over department budgets, several professors on the search committee said.

University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman picked her from a short list this month after a 16-person search committee narrowed down the pool in April.

James Bailey, a professor of management and member of the school’s dean search committee, said Livingstone’s experience and commanding, yet calming, persona helped her win over many of the school’s faculty. He said she was the “right person for this moment in time for the school.”

“The last three years have been pretty tumultuous. It’s fightened a lot of people. It’s just taken a toll here,” Bailey said. “Somebody that’s had experience in leadership, that’s moved the place forward but hasn’t created as much stress, is why the sitting dean was especially important.”

When she visited campus in April, Livingstone pitched the idea of finding new niches for online programs, like courses that focus on small business, Bailey said. She also claimed she would be inclusive in decision-making. When Guthrie led the school, professors had complained that the former dean kept them out of major planning.

She beat out three other candidates, including a former Fortune 100 chief executive officer, the dean of the University of Albany – SUNY’s School of Business and a senior associate dean from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. She was the sole female dean candidate to visit campus.

This summer, Livingstone will also become the leader of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, GW’s accrediting organization.

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christopher kayes

Interim business school dean Christopher Kayes led the school through its accreditation process this fall, which culminated with a campus visit this week. Photo courtesy of GW Media Relations.

The accrediting body of the School of Business has met with students, faculty and staff this week, the final leg of the school’s five-year review.

The site visit by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the last step in a years-long accreditation process, which evaluates the school’s status and mission and gives weight to the institution. The visit had been pushed back from November to give the school more preparation time after the unexpected firing former dean Doug Guthrie in August.

As the school prepared over the last few months, Provost Steven Lerman said administrators looked mainly at classroom objectives to “determine the extent to which the students have learned things that we claim are their educational outcomes.”

He said accrediting groups, like the business school association, are increasingly focusing on how well colleges are teaching students, rather than what resources colleges offer.

The school has recently expanded its learning assessments by testing students on material months after they learned it.

“If you said ‘this was the outcome,’ you ought to be able to downstream ask, ‘Are there ways to measure whether you’ve learned that or not?’” he said.

Christopher Kayes, the school’s interim dean, declined a meeting this month to discuss the school’s preparation for accreditation.

The school’s leaders completed a self-study for the business association last fall, which included three years of preparation and reports done by the school. Kayes asked the accrediting body to delay the site visit three weeks after Guthrie was fired so he would have more time to prepare the school.

Faculty said then that they feared the school’s accreditation would be in jeopardy. But after Kayes had been at the helm of the school for a few months, most said their concerns had blown over.

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Duques Hall, home of the GW School of Business. Hatchet File Photo

The GW School of Business will spend this month courting candidates for its next dean, looking to vet the top 10 finalists over the next few weeks.

Those finalists will be invited for on-campus interviews in late March and early April, the committee’s chair, Murat Tarimcilar, said. The committee will then select three candidates from which University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman will choose.

The committee was formed quickly last fall after former dean Doug Guthrie was fired for failing to reconcile with top leaders over a $13 million budget gap.

A six-page document outlining the dean’s roles and qualifications, which was provided to The Hatchet this week, stresses managerial experience, strong commitment to global education and the ability to work with faculty, staff and students.

“GW’s culture enables Deans to function with a great deal of autonomy and with a spirit of support, not micromanagement, from University leadership,” the job description said.

The document also lists that “budgeting experience is strongly desired.”

Guthrie’s nearly two-year tenure was also marked by faculty strife, with professors claiming they’d been shut out of GWSB decisions, including to focus on development in China.

Tarimcilar, who is also a professor of decision sciences, pledged to make the hiring process transparent for business school professors and staff.

The search committee – which comprises 16 professors, staff, students and board members – has been working with an outside firm called Isaacson Miller to target top applicants since last fall but started aggressively targeting candidates this month, Tarimcilar said.

In an email to business school faculty last fall, Tarimcilar promised to provide information about the candidates and present updates on the search at faculty meetings.

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Universities fail to teach future business leaders the importance of humility, former GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie wrote in Forbes on Friday.


Hatchet File Photo

The perfect case study for that theory? His own tumultuous deanship at the GW School of Business.

Guthrie was fired in August after he and Provost Steven Lerman could not agree on a budget for next year. Lerman said Guthrie overspent on academic programs by $13 million last year.

But the China scholar and former New York University professor’s deanship was also controversial among business school faculty, many of whom never quite bought into his plans.

Here’s what he wrote in Forbes:

My GW tenure proved to be equal parts exhilarating and jarring—and, most importantly, a true lesson in the importance of humility in leadership. I loved the strategizing, but did a poor job bringing the faculty along. With every homerun, there seemed to be a strikeout or two. We launched a successful program here, and the faculty battled me there. We raised more donations than ever, but spent more than we budgeted. It was a roller coaster ride of failure and success…

…Regardless of the headlines, and there have been many, I realize today that I was ultimately expelled for the most personal of reasons: I was inexperienced and too impatient to suffer academic minutiae and delicate egos. I might have had a vision for the school, but I also needed more hands-on experience to complement my expertise. I did a terrible job of managing up. I’ve taught leadership theory to executives and MBA students for more than a decade, but the painful reality is that I lacked the important element of humility when I walked through the doors at GWSB. I thought I knew everything when I really had much to learn.

The business school is searching for the next dean this year.

Here are some of those headlines Guthrie references:
Business school dean met with faculty strife (Dec. 3, 2012)
Business dean Doug Guthrie fired over $13 million budget gap (Aug. 22, 2013)
A look back on Doug Guthrie’s turbulent deanship (Aug. 24, 2013)
Pushed by ambitious agenda, Guthrie takes fall (Aug. 25, 2013)
Guthrie claims GW backed away from expansion plan (Sept. 8, 2013)
Top faculty leader accused of slander attack against Doug Guthrie (Sept. 16, 2013)

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Provost Steven Lerman outlined a set of requirements that would determine whether GW would build a campus in China. Corey Zagone | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Provost Steven Lerman said GW would consider a set of principles while deciding how to move forward in China. Corey Zagone | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Provost Steven Lerman expressed caution about the possibility of a GW campus in China on Friday, warning that GW won’t go ahead with any program or partnership unless it meets strict academic standards.

GW has been in talks with Chinese universities to create a campus in Beijing, but Lerman told members of the Faculty Senate that administrators were “nowhere down the road on anything like that.”

For GW to consider building a campus, the China university must demonstrate the same academic quality and a similar strategic plan and the partnership must be financially self-sustaining partnership and earn faculty buy-in, Lerman said.

“We’ll probably want to set a very high bar, and it doesn’t seem likely to me that any offer we’re likely to get would beat those four principles,” Lerman said.

A faculty committee will spend this year evaluating programs that other universities have in China and deciding whether GW should lean more towards teaching or research – and how far the University should go in either direction. The committee was formed this fall after faculty complained that they had been largely shut out of discussions for two years.

If GW chooses to pursue a campus in China, it could take years to maneuver the planning phase, including working with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

New York and Duke Universities, which have both gained degree-granting status in China, held years of discussions with the Chinese government and partner schools before being approved.

Only a handful of universities have achieved degree-granting status, and Lerman said it is likely that only a few more will.

“It’s a difficult and complicated environment for us because there are explicit rules and of course, the system of governance is quite different,” Lerman said. “China does want engagement internationally, but only of particular types.”

Lerman took control of the University’s initiatives in China in late August, after Doug Guthrie was fired as dean of the School of Business and vice president for China operations.

Guthrie oversaw the growth of several initiatives in China, including master’s of finance exchange programs in finance and accountancy. He secured GW classroom space in Suzhou National Park in 2012.

Faculty criticized administrators for allowing Guthrie to lead the expansion of China programs mostly single-handedly.

Charles Garris, a professor of engineering and chair of the professional ethics and academic freedom committee, said administrators were right to form a faculty committee reevaluating GW’s direction in China.

“I think things started off in the wrong direction when Dean Guthrie was in charge, but I think now they’re straightening out the things that are going on. He said everything right,” Garris said.

Garris added that while Chinese universities have a special interest in business programs, foreign engineering and science programs have been less successful.

- Cory Weinberg contributed to this report

This post was updated on October 14, 2013 for clarity.

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The University issued a statement Monday that officials have found no evidence to substantiate rumors that Doug Guthrie profited off the University’s growth in China. Hatchet file photo

The University issued a statement Monday maintaining that GW leaders’ allegations of illegal payouts, inappropriate sexual relationships and defamation detailed in a Hatchet report have not been substantiated by internal investigators.

Those refuted allegations also include the ones by Kimberly Acquaviva, a Faculty Senate member and nursing professor, who went to the Board of Trustees with claims that Faculty Senate executive committee chair ran a defamation campaign to get former business school dean Doug Guthrie fired.

Guthrie told The Hatchet that he thought that alleged defamation played a role in his firing.

On Monday, the University fired back:

“We are deeply disappointed that Professor Guthrie has linked these matters to his dismissal from his position as dean of the School of Business. Professor Guthrie is fully aware of the reasons for his dismissal, and in fact has discussed his disagreements with the administration over the management of the School of Business in previous statements to the media,” the statement said.

“University officials have repeatedly assured Professor Guthrie, over many months, that they neither believed the allegations against him nor had found any evidence to support those allegations. Similarly, the university has found no evidence to support the allegations against Professor Rehman that were reported today. None of those allegations played any role in Professor Guthrie’s dismissal from the deanship.”

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christopher kayes

Management professor Christopher Kayes was named the interim dean of the School of Business Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy of GW Media Relations.

The University named a 13-year management professor as the interim School of Business dean Wednesday, about three weeks after administrators fired Doug Guthrie.

Christopher Kayes, an associate professor, will oversee the school until a permanent dean is selected, according to a University release. 

A professor in the business school as well as the College of Professional Studies, Kayes has taught at GW since 2000.

Kayes will take over a business school that was stunned last month when its three-year leader, Guthrie, was abruptly fired. Administrators said that decision was made after Guthrie overspent by $13 million – a quarter of its budget.

He will also steer the school through its accreditation process, with the school’s report due within a month.

Phil Wirtz, the vice dean of programs and education, oversaw the school’s day-to-day operations for the past three weeks. He told faculty at a meeting Monday that he did not want to be the interim dean because he was not the best person to lead the school through accreditation.

Kayes holds a Ph. D. in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Butler University. He studied political science and religious studies at Indiana University.

He did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Philip Wirtz, vice dean of programs and education, hastily called a meeting of business school faculty Monday, calling on them to unite against Rice Hall leaders. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.

In a dramatic meeting of about 60 business school faculty, the professor with temporary control over the college railed against GW’s top brass for the “reprehensible” firing of Doug Guthrie over two weeks ago.

Philip Wirtz, the vice dean of programs and education, urged faculty to cease infighting and come together against “the true enemy” – administrators in Rice Hall.

Politics boiled over in the hastily convened meeting, where Wirtz argued that the $12 million budget dispute hanging over the school was “totally outrageous” and did not justify Guthrie’s dismissal.

“I’m getting real tired of the business school being hung out to dry for essentially attempting to grow,” said Wirtz, who was appointed by Guthrie last year and was at his boss’s side the morning of his firing.

Wirtz, who ran the school’s day-to-day operations for three weeks after Guthrie was fired, mostly blamed University President Steven Knapp and Executive Vice President Lou Katz – hinting that Rice Hall was divided on the issue.

Provost Steven Lerman named management professor Chris Kayes the school’s interim dean Wednesday.

Sok-Hyon Kang, a business professor who previously served as vice dean of faculty and research, questioned Katz’s office for not detecting “a so-called $13 million overrun.”

“We have a serious problem at the university level in terms of financial management and the financial recording system at the very least,” he said.

Theodore Barnhill, a professor of finance, claimed the University was “addicted to the cash flow” from the business school, which led administrators to pull the plug early on Guthrie’s tenure.

To end the business school’s reputation at GW as a money maker, Barnhill said: “Faculty need to come together and demand change.”

Knapp sent out an email to the University Wednesday after Lerman’s announcement, assuring GW of the administration’s commitment to the school. He said the school was “central to the implementation of the Strategic Plan” and that administrators will support the school so it continues to grow.

“In the past few days, questions have been raised regarding the university’s commitment to the School of Business. I want to give you my personal assurance that there has been no reduction whatsoever in the University’s commitment,” Knapp said.

Looking at the school’s overall financial picture, Wirtz said the figures from Lerman and Knapp did not tell the full story. While he admitted Guthrie did overspend by $12 million last year, the school also earned $12 million more than expected in revenue – providing the University millions in revenue.

“If you read the numbers appropriately, we could be way ahead of the game,” he said.

That story is similar to the one Guthrie told reporters last week, which the University shot down and said Guthrie failed to submit a new budget.

Lerman will likely name an interim dean by the end of the week, Wirtz said, adding that he had no interest in the role.

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