Sole female dean candidate visits campus

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The Malibu Canyon entrance sign at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

A long-serving Pepperdine University dean renowned for championing women in business schools is one of the final four candidates for the GW School of Business’ top position.

Linda Livingstone, dean of the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, is the only female candidate vying to take over the business school this summer, several professors at GW and Pepperdine confirmed this week.

In her decade as dean of Pepperdine, which has the No. 76-ranked MBA program by U.S. News & World Report, she has launched four new degree programs and a series of online degree programs.

Livingstone will be considered by a 16-person search committee over the next several days, as they select three names from which University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman will choose.

The school’s faculty will meet Thursday to discuss candidates before the committee makes their final decision.

She joins Don Siegel, dean of the University of Albany – SUNY’s School of Business, Panos Kouvelis, senior associate dean of the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis and John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil company as the top candidates.

A fifth candidate, an associate dean who was scheduled to visit campus this week, withdrew his candidacy before coming to GW. The dean search comes after former dean Doug Guthrie was fired last fall after he and top administrators could not agree on how to close a multi-million dollar spending gap.

A GW professor who attended Livingstone’s presentation to business school faculty Wednesday said her years of dean experience would likely appeal to Rice Hall, faculty and donors.

Her vision for the school includes more collaboration with GW’s other colleges, enhancing its global positioning and focusing on public policy and entrepreneurship, the professor said.

Livingstone, who has been dean of the Graziadio school since 2002, has launched new master’s of science degrees, online degrees and expanded programs across satellite campuses in California throughout her tenure. She also led a redesign of the school’s entrepreneurial programs, which includes three master’s degree programs.

The school’s ranking jumped 20 spots this year, as job placement for graduates increased about 12 percentage points for the Class of 2013.

Livingstone, who did not return a request for comment from The Hatchet, is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and will serve as its chair starting this summer. Accreditors from AACSB have visited GW’s campus over the past year to review the business school.

In a New York Times interview in 2006, Livingstone said she believes few women make it to executive positions because companies typically choose from a small group of current executives. She pointed to her experience as a basketball player in high school and college as the root of her competitive edge that helped her move up to her position.

“I spent a lot of time around men, competing against them and with them. I developed an ability to live and work in a man’s world,” she said then.

She received a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree from Oklahoma State University, and taught in the management and entrepreneurship department at Baylor University before moving to Pepperdine.

William Bleuel, a professor of decision sciences at Pepperdine, said Livingstone has tried to market new programs to complement the MBA, like master’s degrees in finance and leadership. She also tried to launch an MBA program specifically for mothers, which saw lagging enrollment.

“She’s come up with some very creative ideas for programs,” he said. “She has tried to put some programs in place that seem to be very focused on different segments of the market to compliment the MBA.”

By launching more regional campuses outside of Malibu in Silicon Valley and Irvine, California, she helped the school attract more students and faculty. The $200 million expansion of the business school’s campus has attracted more students and grown its enrollment in the last five years.

The last female business school dean was Susan Phillips, who served as dean for 12 years before stepping down from the post in 2010 and retiring the next year.

Shane Moshiri, an economics lecturer at Pepperdine for the last 16 years, said Livingstone was an effective leader because she forms plans strategically and doesn’t rush into decision making.

Moshiri said he’d felt comfortable approaching Livingstone about concerns he’d had about decision making in his department, and that she’d taken steps to fix mistakes.

“She’s flexible, compromising within reason, and she is a very reasonable, thoughtful person,” Moshiri said.

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