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Doug Guthrie

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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Doug Guthrie | Hatchet File Photo

Updated Sept. 7 at 8:55 p.m.

Doug Guthrie said Thursday that the University pulled back from its pledge to invest in the GW School of Business, with administrators instead thinking of the college as a “cash cow” that would bring money in to GW at large.

In his first extensive interview since he was fired two weeks ago, Guthrie told the popular business school blog Poets & Quants that the overspending rankled top administrators because the school would only be bringing back $42 million back to GW instead of $51 million.

“We had an agreement and they wanted to cut way back. I said we already were not where we need to be. If we have to give the university more money, I don’t think I’m the right person for this. I didn’t come here to be the steward of a cash cow. I came here to build programs and make investments,” Guthrie said.

He maintained that the college’s $13 million in overspending was manageable to cover through the business school’s reserves and extra revenue, but Provost Steven Lerman and University President Steven Knapp disagreed.

University spokeswoman Candace Smith shot down the claim in an email Friday, saying that the University “strongly disagrees” with Guthrie’s account. She said the University asked Guthrie to pitch another plan for investments into the business school, but Guthrie never followed through.

“The university never backed away from that agreement.  On the contrary, in a meeting earlier this summer, the Provost  and the Treasurer invited Dean Guthrie to submit  a proposal for an additional university investment in the School of Business.  That proposal was never received,” Smith wrote. “As it emerged that GWSB had significantly overspent its  FY 2013 budget, the Administration attempted to work with Dr. Guthrie to address the problem and  to develop a plan for moving forward but ultimately was unable to do so.”

Guthrie also told Poets & Quants that Knapp distrusted his ambitious plans to revive the middle-ranked business school. The University had invested in those plans since Guthrie took over in 2010, pouring millions more into the business school’s budget.

“They think I am a little bit uncontrollable,” Guthrie said. “And I understand how that makes them uncomfortable. We tried a lot of things here, and maybe it was too much too quickly.”

The comments illuminate more details on the rift between Guthrie and GW’s top brass. Mostly, Guthrie contends that the budget battle had a broader backdrop, with the two sides disagreeing on how much the college should hand back to the University as a whole.

Administrators wanted the school’s budget for next year to be about $7 million less than last year, a number Guthrie resisted. He that money would be taken away from research funds and summer salaries for junior faculty.

Guthrie said the budget disagreements created a situation in which he could not work with administrators, causing Lerman to abruptly fire him. He said the firing took him by surprise, figuring he would stay on through the school’s accreditation process this year.

“I knew that the stand I was taking made it a pretty good chance they would say this isn’t working and let’s see it through accreditation. I decided I would be fine with it because I disagreed with the suggested budget cuts,” he said.

This story was updated on Sept. 7  to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet misattributed Candace Smith’s comments to Provost Steven Lerman. We regret this error.

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Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 11:29 p.m.

MBA students question Guthrie firing


Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman held a town hall with graduate students in the business school Tuesday evening to discuss the firing of Doug Guthrie. Hatchet File Photo

A group of about 30 MBA students questioned top leaders Tuesday about the abrupt firing of the school’s dean, calling for a more open process as GW selects the next leader.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman compared the downward slide of former dean, Doug Guthrie, to a divorcing couple. He said the $13 million in overspending was the breaking point after a longstanding clash between Guthrie and the president and provost.

Remaining in the deanship until the end of the year would have to be a mutual decision, and Maltzman was “quite confident that was not the case in the situation.”

Philip Wirtz, the school’s vice dean of programs and education, said the University made the announcement so quickly that the school did not have time to tell students before news spread on social media.

It was essentially a one-day decision, Wirtz said. He said he and Guthrie walked to Rice Hall to meet with University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steve Lerman to discuss the budgetary issues. But when he got there, Wirtz said they were pulled into different rooms and then told the news separately.

“I spent a good chunk of the morning trying to discuss the issues with them,” Wirtz said. “I tried to dissuade them from taking the action. But by the time I got back to the office, which is a five-minute walk, the announcement had been made.”

Sean Murphy, president of the MBA Association, which had requested the meeting, said after the meeting Tuesday that too many questions still remained about why Guthrie was ousted so quickly.

“To me it’s still pretty cloudy. I understand it’s an HR matter and HR matters need to be private, but this is a pretty high-profile transition and it seems to me that they’re kind of making it up as they go along,” he told The Hatchet.

Guthrie was also fired from his post as vice president of China operations – a role he took on last June to oversee the University’s expansion in China.

Laura Schonfeld, a second-year MBA student, blamed Guthrie for spending too much time on GW’s efforts to grow in China.

Maltzman, who defended the Chinese programs as a way to expand GW’s global clout,  said it was unlikely the next business school dean will be an expert in China.

“It is not the dean of GWSB’s responsibility to be the sole leader for the University in terms of China,” Maltzman said. “I would be surprised if the next dean of the George Washington School of Business is also the head of China operations.”

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Doug Guthrie | Hatchet File Photo

Doug Guthrie, who was fired from two administrative positions two weeks ago, wrote on his Facebook page Monday night that he would reveal details “with time” his version of the dispute.

Guthrie, who led the GW School of Business for three years, did not discuss details of the $13 million the business overspent last year, which led to an irresolvable disagreement with Provost Steven Lerman. But he said he would disclose details after a “period of self-examination and reassessment.”

“With time, I will gain the insight to see beyond this misfortune. And when it is appropriate, I will present my own account of what happened,” Guthrie said.

He wrote that he was testing his “long-held beliefs about the fundamental value of failure” as he tries to move forward as a leader.

Guthrie, who remains at GW as a tenured professor of international business and management, said he hoped to make the transition easy for his family, friends, colleagues and students.

Guthrie spoke to a reporter with the Financial Times last week, and said he was “surprised by the suddenness” of the announcement. He said it was well-known the school would be over-budget and that the school had been investing in online technology as part of its long-term plan.

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