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Ross Professor Leaves Lasting Legacy

6/6/2008 --

Professor Emeritus W. Allen Spivey remembered as avid researcher and enthusiastic teacher.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—W. Allen Spivey, the Clare E. Griffin Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Business Administration and professor emeritus of statistics at the Ross School of Business, died of cardiac failure on June 3, 2008.

Spivey, pictured here on the right with Ross colleague Roger Wright, joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1956 and received the University’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1971. In 1978, he was appointed to the Griffin professorship, named for the second dean of the business school. Previously, Spivey held visiting appointments at Harvard University and the London School of Economics. In 1968, he was a visiting Fulbright professor for Kyoto University's American Studies Program in Japan.

"Allen was one of the true great scholars in our field," said Ross School Dean Robert Dolan. "Our community was very fortunate to have him as a devoted member for so many years."

Spivey's research focused on time series analysis and forecasting models, as well as their applications in management. He also studied the operational implementation of global strategic management concepts.

During his lifetime, Spivey's pursuits stretched far beyond his teaching and research at the Ross School. He was actively involved in several departments across the University, and took pride in collaborating with faculty members in other disciplines.

"Despite the fact that his primary appointment was at the business school, he also taught in the mathematics department, economics department, and engineering school," said colleague and friend William Hall, adjunct professor of strategy. "He co-authored books and papers with professors in all of those areas. He was an avid researcher. He had four homes at the University."

Spivey's other pursuits and accomplishments are inspiring, as well. He was a member of the Panel on International Statistics of the U.S. and chairman of the Business and Economic Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association, receiving fellowships from that association and the Royal Statistical Society. He also served on the board of directors for the International Institute of Forecasters, acted as associate editor and referee for leading scholarly journals, and served as an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C. According to Hall, Spivey was on a continuous quest for knowledge and personal development.

"Allen was always trying to renew himself," Hall said. "He was constantly pursuing new interests."

Spivey’s focus on global strategic management concepts and his professional contacts in Europe and Asia made him an invaluable asset to the Ross School’s initiatives into international business education. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the business school’s program in the Leonardo da Vinci University in Paris, where he continued to play an active role, even as he retired from U-M in 1996.

Herb Hildebrandt, professor emeritus of business administration and communication studies, remembers Spivey as a scholar and mentor who knew there was life beyond the classroom.

“As a role model, his influence extended beyond the realm of lectures, even influencing us, his peers," Hildebrandt said.

More than anything, Spivey's friends and colleagues will remember him as an inspirational teacher whose hallmark was his dry wit and uncanny ability to turn what some would call "dull" subjects into captivating lessons. The care he put into planning his presentations awed his colleagues.

"The hours he put into preparing to teach -- it was like he was preparing for surgery," said Hall, who was a student of Spivey's at one time. "His students would give him incredible evaluations."

"Professor Spivey has an enviable reputation as an outstanding scholar, stimulating teacher, and most useful member of the University community," said the late business school Dean Floyd Bond in his recommendation for Spivey's appointment to the Clare E. Griffin Distinguished Professorship. "Students rate him as one of the best teachers in the entire University."

A memorial service will be held on Monday, June 9, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Student Parish, 331 Thompson St., in Ann Arbor.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu