Krishna Kumar never turned away anyone who knocked on his office door in Funger Hall, and every student or faculty member who visited him would leave his office smiling, colleagues said.
Kumar, one of the highest-ranking faculty members in the GW School of Business, died March 19 from complications related to a bone marrow transplant that was meant to treat leukemia. He was 60.
“He was the whole package. In our line of work, research, teaching and service were all important, and he was top notch at all of them,” said Angela Gore, chair of the accountancy department. “He could’ve doubled the profile he had, but he didn’t because he gave so much back.”
Kumar had battled blood cancer for six years and had been in remission until early February, when he faced problems with his immune system.
An endowed professor of accountancy, Kumar taught classes on financial statement analysis and was a top researcher on economic incentives in accounting decisions. He was the school’s associate dean of research and doctoral studies in 2008. Kumar also served as chair of the department of accountancy from 2011 to last year.
During his two decades at GW, the school grew into its new home in Duquès Hall and began raising its standards to become one of the top business schools in the country.
“He really loved seeing the school change for the better, see it changing in the direction as he envisioned it,” his son, Varun Kumar, said. He said his father was the smartest man he knew.
William Baber, a professor in Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, knew Krishna Kumar for 30 years. He taught Kumar at Columbia University before Kumar earned his doctorate, and helped him land his first job at GW.
“He was a mix of intellect and compassion,” Baber said, adding that he was a “first-rate scholar.”
“He worked tirelessly to improve the department,” said Sok-Hyon Kang, a professor of accounting who worked with Kumar for 14 years. “Everyone in the department and school will miss him, his service, his companionship, his wisdom and his advice.”
A statement from the School of Business described the professor as “universally valued for his kindness and selfless willingness to help others,” calling him a true gentleman.
Kumar, who was born in India and then lived in four states in the U.S., is survived by his wife, Latha, and two children, Vandana and Varun. He also enjoyed traveling, playing table tennis and watching old Hindi films, his son said.