Endowed professorship remains vacant for fifth year following three failed searches

Media Credit: Max Wang | Staff Photographer

A donor-funded professorship in the business school remains unfilled for the fifth consecutive year.

Updated: April 30, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

A donor-funded professorship in the business school remains unfilled for the fifth consecutive year.

The search to fill the Lindner-Gambal Professorship in Business Ethics failed for the third time in the last five years – letting the donation sit untouched, faculty said. The search was called off this spring and three faculty members on the committee said they weren’t given a clear reason about why the search could not continue, despite encountering few problems during the process.

The search committee started reviewing applications in October for a proposed start date next academic year, according to a GW Jobs application. The job description asks for a “record of scholarly publications” and expertise in the business ethics field.

The endowed professorship, which sets aside funds for a professor to teach a course about business ethics, was established in 2004 by A. James Clark, a trustee who died in 2015, and named after two alumni, Thaddeus Lindner and Sergius Gambal, who graduated from GW in the 1950s. Tim Fort was the last professor to fill the endowed professorship and held the position from 2005 to 2013.

The Clark Foundation, a foundation that invests in education on Clark’s behalf, did not return a request for comment.

University spokesman Jason Shevrin declined to confirm that the search failed this year and did not say why it failed. Shevrin said the “recruitment process” would continue under the next dean of the business school, but did not say when the position is expected to be filled.

“We are looking forward to continuing the recruitment process for the Lindner-Gambal Professorship under the leadership of incoming Dean Anuj Mehrotra and are excited to fulfill the generous gift that made the position possible,” he said.

Mehrotra will take over as the business school dean July 1 after Linda Livingstone stepped down from the role last April to become president of Baylor University.

Shevrin declined to say what the administration told faculty about the search’s failure. He also declined to describe the impact the vacant position has on the business school or how much the endowed professorship is worth.

Professors on the search committee said they could not talk about specific details of candidates or the search process, citing confidentiality agreements within the closed search.

Kirsten Martin, an associate professor of strategic management and public policy, said administrators told the five-person search committee, which has stopped meeting, that the search had failed with no explanation.

“There were three searches and after each one, there was frustration that it wasn’t being filled,” she said.

Martin said the school hasn’t hosted a search every year that the position was vacant, but the three failures were still frustrating.

Pradeep Rau, a professor of marketing and member of the search committee, said he was not aware of any irregularities within the search process that might cause it to fail. He said searches often fail and there is not always a concrete reason why, except that the “right person” wasn’t found.

“The truth is that searches do fail, and I wasn’t part of previous searches for this process,” he said. “I assume that the money is going to be used the next time they find somebody.”

Ronald Hill, a visiting ethics professor who will not return to GW next year, said word gets around when there are several failed searches in a row because the committee brings candidates to campus for interviews. The business ethics field isn’t small, Hill said, but the people in the field talk with one another.

Declining to fill the position for an extended period of time could give the University a bad reputation and deter candidates from applying during the next search, because past searches have been fruitless, he said.

“If you bring in good people with well-known reputations in the field and you keep denying all of them opportunities to serve, my guess is it does hurt your reputation,” he said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the Lindner-Gambal professorship. It is now spelled correctly. We regret this error.

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