Olin Business School honors distinguished alumni and faculty tonight

Annual awards ceremony highlights business leaders and scholarship

What do a choreographer, a bank president, an investment banker and the president of America’s largest brewer have in common? They are all graduates of the Olin Business School and will be honored tonight at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton.

In addition to the distinguished alumni awards, the Dean’s Medal will be presented as well as the 2009 Olin Award for faculty research with the greatest potential to advance business.

Distinguished alumni recipients include:

David C. Dorfman, BSBA ’77, noted dancer and choreographer founded his own contemporary dance company in 1985 and chair of the Connecticut College Dance Department where is also the William Meredith Professor of Dance.

David A. Peacock, MBA ’00, president Anheuser-Busch. Manages all U.S. operations for the newly combined company Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Sally H. Roth, MBA’95, president Regions Bank Upper Midwest Area including Missouri, Iowa and western Kentucky, encompassing 128 branches.

Lawrence E. Thomas, BSBA’77, partner, Minority Market Recruiting at Edward Jones.

Dean’s Medalists are Jerald L. Kent and Judith L. Kent who have established a $3 million Olin scholarship program that will provide significant scholarships to 20 undergraduate students over the next seven years. Jerry Kent received his BSBA and MBA from Olin, is the founder of Charter Communications and now serves as president and CEO at Cequel III LLC, an investment and management firm that develops cable and telecommunications companies. Judy Kent is a community volunteer and co-owns the women’s clothing boutique Vie.

The second annual Olin Award for faculty research initiated by Olin executive in residence and former chairman and CEO of the Monsanto Company. The $10,000 award highlights scholarship that has practical and performance-enhancing applications to critical management issues. This year’s winning paper titled “A Theory of Strategic Problem Formulation” is authored by three Olin professors:

Markus Baer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

Kurt Dirks, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior

Jackson A. Nickerson, Ph.D., Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy

Their paper examines how, when faced with strategic challenges or problems, leaders commonly assemble a team of their most capable individuals. Although these teams almost always identify a course of action, often they solve the wrong problem. In fact, a study of large U.S. companies found that 75 percent of groups repeatedly cycled back to problem formulation because they discovered they had solved the wrong problem.

Baer, Dirks, and Nickerson identify three common traps that groups experience in problem formulation. In addition, the team designed an eight-step process that allows teams to systematically enhance their strategic problem formulation capabilities. The process has been used in a number of organizations and found to be highly effective.

The paper is currently under consideration for publication in the Harvard Business Review.

Olin Business School Dean Mahendra Gupta will be the Master of Ceremonies at tonight’s awards dinner.

Complete bios and photos of award recipients available upon request.

Contact: Melody Walker, melody_walker@wustl.edu