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GW School of Business

The associate dean of undergraduate programs in the GW School of Business will be the new dean of McGill University’s business school, McGill announced Wednesday.

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou will lead McGill’s Desautels School of Management starting in January. Bajeux-Besnainou is a finance professor and became the associate dean of undergraduate programs for the business school in 2012. She was the chair of the finance department from 2011 to 2012. She has been a professor at GW since 1994.

McGill officials chose Bajeux-Besnainou on Tuesday, “following the recommendation of a committee that conducted an international search for top candidates,” according to a release.

U.S. News and World Report ranks McGill University at No. 44 for best global universities. GW landed at No. 281.

Bajeux-Besnainou worked in Canada before coming to GW as a finance professor at the Université de Montréal, a French-speaking institution, in 1993, according to a release.

At GW she oversaw the creation of a new bachelor of science in finance degree that launched this year, and also revamped the first-year development program, a required freshman seminar course in the school.

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The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School slid out of the list of the top 20 law schools in the country while other graduate programs improved in the rankings released by U.S. News & World Report this week.

The law school is now ranked No. 22 nationwide, tied with programs at the University of Alabama, the University of Iowa and the University of Notre Dame. GW had previously tied for No. 20 with the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and the University of Southern California, but the school held onto its No. 2 ranking for part-time programs.

The selectivity of the school’s full-time law programs dipped for the second consecutive year, but other factors in the rankings, like median LSAT scores and median undergraduate GPA, held steady. Last spring, University officials hired Blake D. Morant to lead the school.

GW School of Business graduate programs rose seven spots to No. 58, tying with Baylor University and the University of Alabama. The school had dropped nine places last year to No. 65. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development also leaped forward three places to tie with three other schools at No. 55, after sliding down 11 spots last year.

Both schools saw large improvements in the rankings for online program, with GSEHD making the top 10 for online education programs and the business school jumping up 20 spots to No. 44 for its online MBA program.

GSEHD is in the middle of implementing an 18-month plan to improve enrollment, which has included creating more online courses.

The business school is in its first year of leadership under Dean Linda Livingstone. The previous dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired after the school overspent by about $13 million.

The engineering school saw a steep drop in the rankings, with graduate programs falling nine places to No. 99 and tying with four other institutions. Administrators hope the recent opening of the Science and Engineering Hall will improve the reputation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, whose graduate programs improved to No. 90 in the nation last year.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences also took a hit, dropping from No. 60 to 67 for research and tying with four other medical schools. School leaders are looking to raise $225 million in the next few years as part of the University’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, with about $50 million of the money SMHS raises expected to go toward research.

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Harvard political philosopher and best-selling author Michael Sandel speaks in Lisner Auditorium on the dilemma of ethics in a market economy. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Political philosopher and best-selling author Michael Sandel speaks in Lisner Auditorium about the dilemma of ethics in a market economy. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Lila Weatherly.

Political philosopher and Harvard University professor Michael Sandel visited Lisner Auditorium on Thursday to explore ethical dilemmas in politics and society with students.

The lecture was part of a series for business students endowed by Board of Trustees member Richard Blackburn.

Here are a few takeaways from the lecture:

1. Posing questions to the audience

Sandel gave students examples of ethical dilemmas and asked them to take sides: Would it be OK to auction off a rhino hunt to raise money for conservation? What about putting a sticker price on immigration?

Those topics sparked heated debate, but Sandel said that’s what he was aiming to do.

“We need to revive the lost art of democratic discourse, and that means we need to learn the art of engaging with one another. Very much like we’ve done today,” Sandel said.

2. The ‘skyboxification of American life’

Sandel said there is less discourse among Americans now because classism keeps people of different socioeconomic backgrounds from interacting. He called it the “skyboxification of American life.”

At baseball games years ago, Sandel said, “There were always more expensive box seats and cheaper bleacher seats.”

“Everybody ate the same stale hot dogs and had to wait in the same long lines in the restrooms. When it rained, everyone got wet,” he said.

Now, baseball stadiums have luxury suites that keep some people from the rain. With separation between the rich and poor, not everyone has the same experience. That separation can make it difficult to solve ethical issues, Sandel said.

“Those who are affluent and those with modest means live and work and shop and play in different places. We send our children to different schools,” Sandel said.

George Washington University Trustee Richard Blackburn introduced Michael Sandel as part of Blackburn's annual lecture series. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Richard Blackburn, a member of the Board of Trustees, introduced Michael Sandel as part of Blackburn’s annual lecture series. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

3. ‘We won’t know until we try’

Sandel said to be most effective, people with different views should talk to each other with mutual respect.

“We need to engage more directly with the competing values of the ethical convictions, and moral and spiritual convictions, that citizens bring to public life,” he said.

He pointed out that in a pluralistic society where people disagree on values, it is important to reason with and listen to others.

“Not because it will lead to an agreement, but because we won’t know until we try,” Sandel said.

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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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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Tatiana Cirisano.

Undergraduate Student Speaker Hunter Pritchard addresses the graduates at the GW School of Business Celebration on Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Student speaker Hunter Pritchard addresses fellow GW School of Business graduates Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Business graduates filled the Smith Center with cheers Friday afternoon as they heard from Barry Salzberg, the school’s first speaker in four years to not have earned a degree from GW.

Here are five stand-out moments from the ceremony:

1. “For decades, success was tied to climbing ladders. Today, it’s all about building bridges.”

After his high school guidance counselor advised him against applying to college because he “wouldn’t be able to handle the work,” Salzberg went on to graduate from Brooklyn College, receive his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and earn his master of laws from the New York University School of Law.

Today, as the global chief executive officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, he attributes some of his success to the power of making connections. By creating and maintaining relationships, he said graduates will be equipped with the support they need to succeed.

“Our greatest assets are no longer the things we produce, but the connections we make and the bridges we build,” Salzberg said.

2.“Be confident, but don’t expect what you haven’t earned.”

Salzberg described a GW student’s job interview with Deloitte. He said the student requested $300,000 a year as a starting salary. The interviewer responded by offering the student a job that included a new company car every two years and five weeks of vacation, among other benefits.

“Are you kidding?” the student asked.

The interviewer responded, “Of course I am. But you started it.”

Salzberg encouraged students to build up their confidence. But he also asked them to remember that confidence can only go so far – and skills and experience are crucial.

3. “Innovation begins with a natural distrust of the status quo.”

Hunter Pritchard, the school’s undergraduate student speaker, urged his fellow graduates to follow their instincts and retain their curiosity.

Pritchard, a business administration major, said they should also create their own rules and question tradition.

“Live your life with gusto and enthusiasm, and remember what Steve Jobs said, ‘The new is you,’”  he said.

4. “Learning rarely takes place in the classroom”

Master of business administration student speaker Amy Watson said true learning occurs through experience – and she has traveled to 16 countries during her academic career to prove it.

“Every time I got off the plane in a new place, I felt enlightened,” she said.

Watson said students must see their education as more than a “means to an end,” and apply their knowledge to everyday problems.

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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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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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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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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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Doug Guthrie told the Financial Times he was surprised at how quickly the University’s top officials fired him as dean of the School of Business. Hatchet File Photo.

GW School of Business students and faculty were not the only people shocked by administrators’ decision to fire Doug Guthrie as dean last week.

Guthrie defended his role in the $13 million of overspending, telling the Financial Times on Tuesday that he was “surprised by the suddenness” of last Thursday’s announcement.

He told the newspaper that it was well-known that the business school would be over its budget last year, and that the college was investing in online technology as part of the school’s long-term plan.

The business school started four online programs last year, partnering with the education company Pearson to provide peer-to-peer technology.

Provost Steven Lerman told The Hatchet last week that online programs and executive MBA programs contributed the most to the $13 million budget gap.

Lerman added that administrators did know that the school was spending more than their budget earlier in the year, but they  discovered $13 million budget gap this summer – much larger than they anticipated. “It was clear in the middle of the year that there was going to be more expenditure, but even additional money was found in closing,” Lerman told The Hatchet.

Guthrie did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Hatchet.

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