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Ross and Rackham Claim Ph.D. Graduates as "Forever Blue"

4/26/2007 --

Organizational management guru fans flames of passion for graduates' research.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Deans Robert Dolan and Janet Weiss of the Ross School of Business and Rackham School of Graduate Studies, respectively, congratulated the 12 Ross School doctorate recipients who were honored last week—then jokingly took credit for their future successes.

"When you win your Nobel Prize, we plan to exploit your brand equity unapologetically," said Dolan. Weiss then pointed out that the graduates literally had "dual citizenship" between Ross and Rackham.

The good-natured tug-of-war over this year's group of Ph.D.s actually highlights the partnerships that help provide the unsurpassed graduate education for which the University of Michigan is known.

Speaker is Blue at Heart

Doctoral recognition ceremony keynote speaker Eric G. Flamholtz earned his Ph.D. in Business Administration from U-M in 1969. Though he has long since moved on to teach, write and conduct research at other leading universities, he returned to praise the school that gave him his start in interdisciplinary research and his quest to balance theory and practice.

"You are graduating from one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. You'll recognize that throughout your career. Being back here this week has made it even more clear to me how much a product of Michigan I am," said Flamholtz, who is currently a professor at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, a leader in organizational growth management and a prolific author. "At U-M, you have been exposed to an explicit articulation of theory with impact. It is nice to see that has remained consistent over the years."

Advice for the New Ph.D.s

"My advice is to believe in the research you are doing. Have passion for it even when others do not. Sometimes you have to walk against the grain," he said, encouraging the graduates to choose areas that interest them and to work diligently on them until they lose that interest. "Don't ticket punch or get caught up in the game of publishing. Unless there is an underlying paradigm, it doesn't add up to anything."

Guidance from the esteemed professor included taking personal stock of the careers and overall lifestyles that the graduates are about to create for themselves.

"Go where you feel valued. Colleagues and culture matter. Your role models within an organization also matter," he said.

On a personal note, Flamholtz urged the graduates to balance their professional lives with the things they truly want to do. Spending time with your young children, traveling and enjoying theater and sporting events are all things that can't wait, he said.

"Do the things in life that you like. Don't wait until you are 60 to do them," he said.

On the topic of writing, Flamholtz said that it should be done to communicate with people and not to impress them.

"I believe in pedagogical writing or writing to teach. That will impress people," he said. "Today I write for myself, to explain something to myself. Embrace your own writing and it will give you personal satisfaction."

About the Guest Speaker

Flamholtz is a founder of the concept Human Resource Accounting, and his book, "Growing Pains: Transitioning from an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm," is generally recognized as the landmark work in this area.

Since 1976, he has focused on organizational growth and development, especially in entrepreneurial firms. His research has led to several frameworks that analyze the key building blocks of organizational success and the transitions from one stage of development to the next.

In 1978, he co-founded Management Systems Consulting Corp. and has consulted such firms as Amgen, Starbucks, PacifiCare, Neutrogena, IBM and more. He also has served on the faculties of U-M and Columbia University.

Meet the Student Honorees

Listed below are the student honorees followed by their fields of study and the universities they will be joining:

• Nilufer Z. Aydinoglu, marketing, Koc University

• Arran Caza, management and organizations, University of Illinois

• Peter Demerjian, accounting, Emory University

• Emily Heaphy, management and organizations, McGill University

• Adair Morse, finance, University of Chicago

• Amit Seru, finance, University of Chicago

• Scott Sonenshein, management and organizations, Rice University

• Puay Khoon Toh, strategy, University of Minnesota

• Michael Troilo, international business and business economics, University of Tulsa

• Yu Wang, marketing, University of Texas-Dallas

• Jonathan Whitaker, business information technology, University of Richmond

• Jing Xu, marketing, Peking University

Other Ceremony Highlights

Also honored was Gerald F. Davis, the Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management at the Ross School of Business and professor of sociology. He received the 2007 Ph.D. Teaching Excellence Award as voted on by the 2007 doctoral students.

In addition, doctoral recipient Adair Morse received the Emeriti Ph.D. Fellowship award in the amount of $2,500. The award was presented by Herbert Hildebrandt, Professor Emeritus of Business Administration and Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies.

Written by Nancy Davis



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