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GW School of Business

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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Doug Guthrie, who was abruptly ousted from his GW School of Business deanship Thursday, ambitiously led the school with a vision to push it into the top tier of business schools nationally. Although he was criticized early on for not having enough management experience, the University’s top administrators supported his lofty goals and plans for a more well-rounded education in business.

Throughout his tenure he was met with faculty strife, but continued to push his plans forward, sometimes cutting faculty out of the decision-making process. Here’s a look back on Guthrie’s tenure as one of the highest-paid GW administrators:


Doug Guthrie. Hatchet file photo.

Lofty goals (May 2010): Guthrie, then a professor of management at the No. 5 New York University Stern School of Business who had overseen its executive education program for two years, was selected as the college’s dean to take over for Susan Phillips. Intending to raise the school’s international prominence, he aimed to raise the college’s ranking.  Some faculty criticized the selection because of his lack of management experience, but top administrators praised his vision for the school and supported him by increasing the school’s annual budget.

Undergraduate reforms (September 2011): In one of his earliest reforms as dean, Guthrie reshaped the college’s undergraduate advising system. The revamp put advisers in a teaching role for the first time, hoping to forge better relationships between students and advisers. But the office has seen some turnover in recent years, with some students claiming they have worked with a new adviser every year.

Looking toward China (October 2011): Guthrie took the first steps toward fulfilling his plans for growth in China by launching a Master of Science in finance degree for Chinese students through Renmin University in Suzhou. Students would spend the first year of the program in China and return to Foggy Bottom for the second year. In March of 2012, he secured classroom space at the Chinese university – one of the best in the country.


Duques Hall. Hatchet file photo.

Rankings slide (March 2012): The business school’s undergraduate program fell seven spots to No. 66 in the Bloomberg Businessweek rankings. Businessweek editors – who GW administrators met with in New York – said student satisfaction about communication with administrators was low.

Administrative merry-go-round (July 2012): Three of the business school’s top administrators – two of which worked directly with undergraduates – announced they were leaving their positions. Murat Tarimcilar, a vice dean, stayed on at GW as a faculty member, but left the school’s administration because he “questioned” whether his views lined up with Guthrie’s. The turnovers delayed a curriculum reform that would have emphasized ethics in business, one of Guthrie’s main goals.


Duques Hall. Hatchet file photo.

Facing pushback (December 2012): Some of the school’s faculty expressed their doubts about Guthrie’s leadership, claiming he held the reins too close and that he had not earned the trust of faculty members. Others supported his management style of running the school more like a business.


Hatchet file photo.

Undergraduate progress (January 2013): The business school announced a specialized degree in finance for undergraduates, which will be available to freshmen starting this fall. The degree – which requires a double major outside of the business school – fit into Guthrie’s vision for a more well-rounded business education.

A new role (April 2013): Less than a month after the school’s undergraduate rankings fell further to No. 71 for the third year in a row, the University named Guthrie its vice president for China operations. University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman had leaned on the Chinese economic expert to further the University’s relationship with China, the source of most of GW’s international student population.

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Updated: Aug. 14, 3:30 p.m.

The technology giant IBM announced Wednesday that it will partner with the GW School of Business and eight other top universities to support academic programs that give students highly coveted skills in “big data” and analytics.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user themonk

The new degree program, which the Board of Trustees approved in May, will teach students to use massive amounts of data to make statistical predictions and business decisions.

Business, statistics and computer science programs have jumped to offer “big data” degrees and certificates trend because of the expected 4.4 million jobs created in the field worldwide by 2015.

Associate professor of decision sciences Srinivas Prasad, who will run the program, said IBM will support the program with curriculum materials, guest lecturers, real-world case study projects and access to software solutions.

IBM will also give money and expertise to universities like Georgetown, Northwestern and National University of Singapore for “big data” programs. GW’s 33-credit program offers courses like data mining and healthcare analytics, as well as workshops on project management and communications.

The University also is planning to open a big data research center on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, and a search for its director is planned to begin this fall.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:38 p.m.

Business students win Google Glass for GW

google glass

Two business students won Google Glass, a new technology that allows users to browse the web and take photos or videos. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Google Glass is coming to the business school.

A pair of School of Business students recently won the technology – a pair of glasses connected to the Internet  – through a Twitter campaign. It’s still about a year away from the consumer market

Sean Murphy, president of GW’s MBA Association which helped students with the competition, said the group had yet to decide its exact plans to use the brand-new technology. Users can use Google Glass to take pictures, video, send messages and search the web through vocal commands.

“We’re kind of writing the script as we go,” Murphy said. “We see this as a new technology and a new market, essentially. This is like the iPhone was in 2007 and we’re really viewing it in the same way we would if we were on the forefront of that technology.”

The winning students, Lindsay Murphy and Hugo Scheckter, traveled to New York City for private demonstrations about how to use the glasses. Both won by responding to a Google Glass tweet with the hashtag: #ifihadglass.

Murphy said he wanted students to help develop new apps, which could be developed and brought to the market with help from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Graduate School of Political Management.

“The goal is to incorporate the glasses into a class, and then let the class organize those entrepreneurial-type activities in a way that plans, possibly develops and ultimately brings the app to market,” Murphy said. “Everybody’s got good ideas. If you look at the Twitter campaign, it was literally thousands and thousands of ideas, and a lot of them were good.”

The business school is hopes to host a launch event for the technology in the fall, Murphy said, which would allow students to try out the Glass.

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Vinod Gupta speaks at a memorial for his late son, Ben Gupta, last year. The entrepreneur and philanthropist established a fellowship program at the U.S. State Department in memory of Ben this week. Hatchet File Photo

The father of a graduate student who died in 2011 established a State Department fellowship program this week in memory of his son.

Vinod Gupta, a philanthropist and former CEO, created the program to honor his son Benjamin Gupta – a law and business student who died from a mix of alcohol and oxycodone at 28 years old. GW awarded the late student an MBA degree posthumously last month.

As many as four fellows will work in the Secretary of State’s Office of the Global Partnership Initiative, where Ben Gupta had interned, or in a regional bureau, according to a release.

MBA graduates from any accredited university can apply for the six-month internship program, which will stress  private-public partnerships in foreign policy and development. A selection committee comprised of members of the GW School of Business, the State Department and the Gupta family will choose the fellows.

Ben Gupta had worked under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the program. The former first lady, a family friend of the Guptas, lauded him during a memorial service held at the University last year as “a great representative of our country.”

Gupta, an Omaha, Neb. native, planned to enter the business world after he graduated.

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Senior Mark Buente and other graduating GW School of Business award recipients stand Friday during the graduation celebration in the Smith Center. Students were honored for their academic success and contributions to the school and the University. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

This post was written by contributing culture editor Olivia Kantor.

Speakers from both the GW School of Business and Elliott School of International Affairs charged students with setting their goals higher in graduation celebrations Friday.

At the business school, which packed by undergraduates and MBA students into the Smith Center, keynote speaker and GW alumnus Steve Ross encouraged students continually strive to challenge themselves.

“We must always set goals, if not we will just spin our wheels our entire lives. While you should enjoy every day, including today, never lose sight of the future,” he said. “Unless you feel the sense of getting that Holy Grail, don’t ever fall into complacency.”

Brian Landau, winner of the Master of Business Administration Leadership Award, exemplifies Ross’ message. After several successful years as a director of digital sales, Landau decided he wanted an extra edge, deciding to return to school to get an MBA and GW was his first choice.

 “Brian wanted to just add to his business skill set, he wanted the credentials, he knew this wasn’t going to be the easiest classes in terms of his own skill set but he was up for the challenge,” Arielle, Landau’s wife, explained.

Marjorie Thomas earned her MBA this year after finishing her undergraduate education 20 years ago. Her experience at the business school has been part of a lifetime of continually working to improve herself and learn, she said.

“[GW] challenged me to think on a more global level and to be cognizant of how I comport myself as a business person, and also to act in a socially and ethically responsible way,” Thomas said.

For Thomas, a mother of three, earning her MBA is deeply tied to her relationship to her family and her ongoing sacrifices for her children. “I want my kids to be proud of their mom,” she said.

At the Elliott School celebration in the Smith Center, Maurice “Mickey” East, dean of the school from 1988 to 1994,  discussed the dramatic transformation of the GW an academic outsider to a leader in international affairs and political science.

He also described an increasingly globalized world, with that phenomenon apparent Friday.

Tianyue Wu, an international student from China, majoring in global communications, decided four years ago to pursue her love for international affairs on the other side of the world. Wu’s family flew all the way from China to see her walk across the stage in the Smith Center.

“It feels so good to graduate, it’s really a new beginning,” said Wu.


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