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.”