Fairfield Now - Winter 2007
Dolan School: Contributing to Their Fields
By Barbara D. Kiernan, M.A.'90
|One of the original horseshoe trading posts from the New York Stock Exchange is now housed in the lobby of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, a point of pride for Dr. Norm Solomon, dean. The historic piece was acquired through the generous efforts of Christopher Quick '79.|
When an accrediting team from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) visited the University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business in 2006-07, two facts quickly rose to the top of their observations: 1) the "strong portfolio of intellectual contributions" made by the faculty within their fields, and 2) a "strong correspondence" between the mission of the University and the Dolan School's, as evidenced by the "faculty's commitment to the education of the whole person" and the "broad incorporation of social justice into teaching." Among those in the forefront of service learning at the Dolan School has been Dr. Winston Tellis, Camille and Stephen Schramm Professor of Information Technology and Operations Management. His teaching has involved students in hands-on projects as far away as Haiti and Nicaragua, and as close as Bridgeport - always with a component of reflection on the experience included.
Meet several other faculty members who illustrate these strengths, and in so doing represent their many colleagues in the Dolan School of Business' undergraduate and graduate programs.
Combating Terrorism Through Law
Since Debra Strauss' days at Yale Law School, a passion for justice has shaped the direction of her scholarship. "I believe," says the attorney and assistant professor of business law, "that action through research is important for the world and that we can change things for the better through law." And does she ever practice what she preaches.
Inspired by the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center's founder, Morris Dees, an attorney who initiated civil lawsuits to go after and dry up the financial resources of the Ku Klux Klan, Strauss wondered in the months after 9/11 whether there might be a way to do the same on the international front against terrorist groups.
"I began researching statutes and finding the links that could connect them within existing law," she explains. First, she analyzed case precedents under several federal statutes - the Antiterrorism Act of 1991, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Torture Victim Protections Act, and the Alien Torts Claims Act. Then, she tackled state common-law tort claims, including aiding and abetting liability, searching successfully for paths that would help victims collect money from a country's frozen assets or those held in U.S.-connected banks.
Her ensuing article, "Enlisting the U.S. Courts in a New Front: Dismantling the International Business Holdings of Terrorist Groups Through Federal Statutory and Common Law Suits," was published by the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law in 2005. To her great satisfaction - and to the excitement of students taking her International Law course - Strauss' work was cited in a landmark federal case this spring pertaining to the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Essentially, it paved the way for a civil lawsuit against Libya and Libyan officials by some families of the Pan Am passengers.
"This article had already made its way into the encyclopedic legal sources as the cited authority in this area," says Strauss, noting how enthused her students get when she incorporates it into her teaching of "International Law" and "The Legal Environment of Business." "Now it has reached the courts to support precisely the type of lawsuit I had proposed against terrorists and state sponsors of terror. It's enormously satisfying."
Do You Really LOVE That Car?
For Dr. Arjun Chaudhuri, scholarly research is what sets a university faculty apart. "Our title is professor," says the Thomas M. Fitzgerald, S.J. Professor of Marketing, "and with it comes the responsibility to generate and disseminate new knowledge. We have to contribute something new or novel within our fields, and that comes from research. Otherwise, what do we have to profess?"
Currently, Dr. Chaudhuri conducts much of his quantitative research using Fairfield University students as volunteer subjects. "My work is based on the assumption that emotion can be recollected and be recorded, as opposed to recording neurological reactions to a stimulus," he says. "The students are statistically very useful because they're a relatively homogenous population in terms of age, values, upbringing, and thinking."
Thus, when Dr. Chaudhuri shows them a picture of a hybrid car, he can be fairly certain that the emotions students report accurately represent how consumers with these characteristics think. After that, he has to figure out what these feelings and thoughts mean for businesses. "Whether we are consultants for businesses or not, we have to point out the marketing applications of our research through what we publish and present at conferences."
Author of dozens of articles accepted for publication in premier peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Chaudhuri wrote Emotions and Reason in Consumer Behavior in 2006 as a practical application of his research findings. In large part because of his solid record of scholarly activity, Dr. Chaudhuri holds a prestigious named professorship in the Dolan School. "Being named the Fitzgerald Professor was a heartening validation of my work," he says, "and an inspiration to remain a productive and contributing member in the field."
Faculty in the Dolan School are known for the breadth of their scholarly publication as well as the impact their research has on students and
business professionals alike. Representing them are (l-r) Dr. Arjun Chaudhuri, Thomas R. Fitzgerald, S.J. Professor of Marketing;
Dr. Winston Tellis, Camille and Stephen Schramm Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management; Debra Strauss, J.D.,
assistant professor of business law, and Dr. Donald Gibson, associate professor of management.
Anger in the Workplace
If you think that venting your anger reduces or dissipates it, think again. "That's a myth," says Dr. Donald Gibson, associate professor of management, who has spent much of his academic career doing research about anger in the workplace. "Venting anger doesn't reduce it; it fuels it - and current research is proving it."
How Dr. Gibson wishes that more organizations could use the energy of anger as a building block for success. "Anger, when channeled and expressed constructively, is a very positive tool for change," he says. "The healthy expression of anger can address underlying causes that an organization needs to focus attention on. Listening to it can provide valuable data and become a strong motivating force for action." Too often, he asserts, organizations don't allow enough anger. Instead, they create a "Culture of Undue Politeness" that buries resentment and stifles change.
For years, Dr. Gibson has interviewed managers and employees about anger episodes they've experienced in the previous three months - the cause, the characters, what they did, and the outcome. Given the powerful emotions at work, subjects rarely have trouble recalling such events, albeit from their own perspective.
"Anger and fear are compelling, useful instruments of change if we can separate the emotion from the underlying cause of the unrest," says Dr. Gibson. Learning to do so is every manager's challenge; so, too, is it an effort for those in subordinate positions. "Probably the most difficult of settings is one in which expressing anger is OK at the top, but not OK as you go down the hierarchy. The dynamic between doctors and nurses comes to mind," he says, "but is mirrored in many settings, to everyone's detriment."
While not ignoring the negative aspects of anger at work, Dr. Gibson has focused his research on the positive side of the emotion. His book, Managing Anger in the Workplace (HRD Press, 2003) was written to assist managers looking for tools that can help build effective work teams and an environment conducive to maintaining high levels of productivity.
The Dean's Perspective
For faculty members in the Dolan School, in addition to classroom teaching and availability to students outside class, a third leg completes the tripod of accountability: engagement in scholarly research. "Yes, AACSB requires a solid record of faculty scholarship and publication, but even beyond accreditation," says Dr. Norm Solomon, dean, "University-level faculty need to be teaching scholars, intellectuals who add to the knowledge base within their fields and share that passion, that expertise, in the classroom."
"We're well on our way to our goal of building the intellectual capital of our faculty," he says, noting that this is the way to attract the best possible students. With this in mind, the Dolan School's 20-member Advisory Board raised $500,000 in gifts and pledges this past year to begin building a robust permanent endowment to underwrite faculty research. The Advisory Board's goal is to reach $750,000 in the coming year, which will yield enough income to support summer research and stipends for faculty pushing back the frontiers of knowledge.
Charles F. Dolan, founder of Cablevision (and along with his wife, Helen, a major benefactor of the School that bears his name), made a campaign gift of $25 million in 2000 to support the School's growth. Through this gift, a number of endowed faculty chairs have since been established, as well as a $2 million endowment to fund positions for graduate research assistants. "In this regard, Mr. Dolan's gift has really primed the pump," says Dr. Solomon, "helping us in our quest to attract better students by giving them valuable experience in the research track."
That's just fine with the Dolan School's faculty scholars - current and those to come - whose research will continue to push the limits and expand the knowledge base within their fields. That, too, is a worthy endowment for the world.