Tag Archives: PhD

PhD alumnus wins Poets&Quants teaching award

Greg FisherGreg Fisher (PhD 2012) recently made Poets&Quants “Top 40 Under 40” list. The list recognizes the rising stars in academia who represent elite schools from around the world. To determine who should receive this award, Poets&Quants asked business school officials, faculty, students and alumni for their top picks.

Fisher, who received a PhD in entrepreneurship and strategy from the Foster School in 2012, is now an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Suresh Kotha, professor of management at the Foster School and Fisher’s PhD advisor, said, “In addition to being a great teacher and researcher, he was one of those really focused PhD students who knew what he wanted. Rarely do you see a PhD student who is so focused and knows what he wants from his PhD program in such a short period of time.” Fisher was also one of the few PhD students at the Foster School to receive an invitation to teach in the Executive MBA Program—positions typically reserved for senior faculty.

In response to winning the award, Fisher said, “It was nice to receive recognition for teaching because you often don’t know if you’re having an impact.” He also said he was honored to be part of the cohort of professionals who also received the award.

When teaching, Fisher brings the content to life. For example, at Foster he taught the business case about HomeGrocer, one of the first online grocery delivery services. In addition to analyzing the case, Fisher invited Terry Drayton, co-founder of HomeGrocer, to his class to talk about the rise and fall of the company. At the Kelley School, he teaches a business case about a bowling alley that goes through a turnaround. To make the case more memorable, Fisher teaches the class at a bowling alley. It’s experiences such as these that Fisher hopes provide a deeper, more impactful learning experience for his students.

Fisher also made the point that becoming a teacher who has impact doesn’t happen overnight. He said, “I’ve been teaching since 2005 and am always looking for ways to improve.” According to Fisher, the five years he spent at Foster as a PhD student served as an apprenticeship. He had the opportunity to see many excellent teachers in action, and would spend time figuring out what they were great at and how to emulate that in his classroom. He also said his time at Foster gave him the confidence and insights necessary to be able to experiment in the classroom.

According to Poets&Quants, “A few common characteristics cut through the whole group: Most, if not all, of the top profs leverage their youthful energy and Generation Y knowledge to create an engaging classroom environment. They naturally build genuine and meaningful relationships with their students, and they pursue another profession or serious hobby on the side.” Fisher’s serious hobby is running. He has run 45 marathons, 16 ultra-marathons and completed three Ironman Triathlons. As for upcoming races, he’s running a marathon in May and doing a triathlon this summer.

Learn more about Greg Fisher and the other “Top 40 Under 40” professors.

Academic powerhouse leads PhD Program with heart and mind

Academic powerhouse leads PhD Program with heart and mind

Terry MitchellThere’s not much more for Terry Mitchell to accomplish.

In four decades as a management professor at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Mitchell has published more than 120 articles in major journals, delivered more than 120 addresses at major professional meetings, contributed more than 40 chapters to edited volumes and published 4 books.

He has authored formative research in leadership, motivation, decision making and employee retention.

A 2008 Journal of Management study named Mitchell among the 35 most influential management scholars in the world. He also received the 2010 Academy of Management Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the twilight of his brilliant career, Mitchell dedicated his stature, experience and passion to developing tomorrow’s business professors in his former role as director of the UW Foster School of Business PhD Program. “Activist director,” amends Tom Lee, associate dean for academic and faculty affairs, with a smile.

“That’s true,” confirms Mitchell, laughing. “When I took the position, I began doing the same thing I do in my research, which is to go out and talk to people—in this case students and faculty on how the program could be improved.”

Lifting the Foster PhD profile

Mitchell turns opinions into action. Since taking the helm five years ago, he’s worked to improve all facets of the PhD Program and lift its standing inside and outside of the Foster School.

The most competitive prospective students are now flown to campus for recruiting. Key entry test scores and language ability standards have been elevated. An enhanced website and new brochure are helping market the program more effectively. “As a result,” Mitchell says, “we’re getting better and better students.”

Foster School doctoral students now benefit from a mentoring program, a 10-week teaching course, a core of dedicated doctoral courses, a mandatory first-year paper, a formal annual progress report and exit interviews upon graduation. “We’ve worked really hard to see that our students get actively involved in teaching and research quickly,” Mitchell says.

To help place doctoral students in the best faculty positions, each is now mandated to present a job talk in front of faculty. The program also aggressively sends students to network and present research at conferences.

Extension of Mitchell’s work-life balance

Through his long-running doctoral course entitled “The Academic Life,” Mitchell has taught hundreds of young people not only how to survive graduate school, but also how to thrive as a professor, a career far removed from the typical business student’s path. “Initially, the lack of structure causes a lot of doctoral students to struggle,” he says. “So we help them learn to structure their time, prioritize.”

Priority management is a key lesson for a professor-in-training. And Mitchell serves as a sterling exemplar. Master of the work-life blend, he has established himself as a successful academic, though never at the expense of a rich personal life. Outside of work he fishes frequently, follows Duke basketball religiously, collects rare sports memorabilia, plays a mean rock-and-roll piano, even delivers cultural lectures on cruise ships (titles include “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Can you count in Mayan?” and “There’s gold in them thar’ hills,” depending on the destination).

A rich legacy of Foster PhD alumni

Mitchell insists on making every last bit of work count while at Foster. In the case of the PhD Program, exponentially. Through his policies as former PhD Program director and his example as a smart, caring mentor, he’s created a rich legacy in the legions of students he has influenced.

“Terry was a magnificent mentor and friend throughout my doctoral program,” says Denise Daniels (PhD 1997), associate dean for undergraduate studies at Seattle Pacific University. “I would not be the scholar or teacher that I am without his input.”

“Through his doctoral courses and now his [former] role directing the program, Terry’s influence reaches beyond the publications and presentations that are easily counted,” says Brooks Holtom (PhD 1999), associate professor and interim associate dean at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “His social capital and immense ability have allowed him to shape education at the Foster School in many ways.”

Adds Will Felps (PhD 2007), an assistant professor at Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, “Terry’s guidance and support has been critical to the success of so many young people.”

The not-so-young as well. “No one in my entire career has been more important in shaping who I am as a scholar and a professor,” says Stephen Green (UW PhD 1976), the Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor of Management at Purdue University and one of Mitchell’s first students. “To this day, Terry is still the standard by which I judge my performance and contributions. He always inspires me to push myself to do better.”

Mitchell says the inspiration is reciprocal. “I love what I do,” he says. “And a big part of what has made this life, this career so positive is the relationships I’ve had with doctoral students. It’s an honor, an infusion of energy and ideas, to be able to work with some of the brightest young people in the field.”

Symposium explores new research in technology entrepreneurship

Now in its seventh year, the West Coast Research Symposium and Doctoral Consortium in Technology Entrepreneurship draws faculty and doctoral students from around the globe to present their early-stage research to an audience of their peers. This year’s event, held September 10-12 at the University of Washington, saw a record 91 applications from doctoral students applying for 24 workshop spots. The 67 faculty and student attendees came from the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The first day of the conference is devoted to a workshop for doctoral students on developing a research agenda in technology entrepreneurship and completing and publishing a top-notch dissertation. The faculty are onstage during the next two days, presenting 23 papers. This year presentations were divided into seven sessions: knowledge creation and transfer; corporate venturing and innovation; optimism, risk, and intellectual property, selecting venturing partners; social ties and dynamic capabilities, technology—geography, topography, and legacy; and industry creation.

“The West Coast Research Symposium is an excellent conference for PhD students for so many reasons,” said David Gomulya, a fourth-year doctoral student from the UW. “The opportunity to meet leading scholars and fellow students in an intimate setting is second to none. Most importantly, the relaxed and collegial atmosphere of the conference is what makes it truly a conference to go to. As a student, you’re not afraid to ask questions, and you’ll get excellent and specific feedback.”

UW Professor Suresh Kotha, one of the co-founders of the conference, seconded that sentiment. “Feedback from your peers helps crystallize the research question you’re asking,” he said. “And the questions from the audience are insightful and constructive. Generally about a third of papers presented at this conference will be published in top-tier journals.”

The Conference partners include the center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (University of Washington), the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (USC), the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (Stanford), the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship (University of Oregon), and the Don Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UC Irvine). The Kauffman Foundation provides additional financial support.

The Call for Papers for the 2010 WCRS will be in February 2010.

A message from the former director

The University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business offers doctoral students the opportunity to study with outstanding faculty who rank highly among their peers in research, serve as editors of prestigious journals and author influential articles. Students are also attracted by the program’s moderate size – roughly 80 students in residence with 6 to 15 students in each of 7 fields of specialization – which allows close contact between faculty and students. Former director Terence Mitchell describes the Foster PhD Program’s approach to doctoral education: