Olin Business School honors distinguished alumni, faculty

A choreographer, bank president, investment banker and the president of the United States’ largest brewer were among the honorees at the Olin Business School’s 2009 Distinguished Alumni Awards April 22 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton. More than 500 alumni, faculty and friends attended the ceremony, where winners of the second annual Olin Award and Dean’s Medal were also named.

Dean’s Medal

Mahendra R. Gupta, Ph.D., dean and the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, presented the Dean’s Medal to Jerald L. Kent (BSBA ’78, MBA ’79) and Judith L. Kent in recognition of their $3 million Olin scholarship program that will significantly support 20 undergraduate students over the next seven years.

Jerald Kent’s commitment to scholarship funding also has been reinforced by his work on the Board of Trustees. Kent founded Charter Communications and is president and CEO of Cequel III LLC. Judy Kent is a community volunteer and co-owns a women’s clothing boutique.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

David C. Dorfman (BSBA ’77) is a noted dancer and choreographer who founded his eponymous dance company in 1985. He is chair and the William Meredith Professor of Dance at Connecticut College.

Dorfman draws on his Olin studies in organizational behavior to get the most out of his dancers. David Dorfman Dance is an award-winning company that has performed on stages around the world. Dorfman has received a Guggenheim fellowship and four National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.

David A. Peacock (MBA ’00) is president of Anheuser-Busch InBev, responsible for all U.S. operations for the newly combined company. Peacock’s career began in advertising at A-B and quickly moved to corporate planning, brand management, corporate media and retail-sales promotion.

As a graduate of the Olin Executive MBA program, he maintains close ties with the school; Peacock also serves as a director for the American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter and St. Patrick’s Center.

Sally H. Roth (MBA ’95) is president of Regions Bank Upper Midwest Area — 128 branches in Missouri, Iowa and western Kentucky. Banking is her second career; her first was teaching. From positions at Mercantile, Bank of America and the Private Bank, Roth moved to Regions Bank in 2002.

She serves on the board of the Olin Alumni Association, where she is past president; the BJC Hospital Foundation; the Regional Chamber and Growth Association; and the Wyman Center. She also is a member of Olin’s National Council.

Lawrence E. Thomas (BSBA ’77) is a partner, minority market recruiting, at Edward Jones. An internship at Edward Jones during his years at Olin led to a job in the corporate bond trading department and a lifelong career with the firm.

Thomas, with two other Olin alums, founded “The Tie That Binds” a scholarship initiative challenging African-American alumni campus-wide. He also sponsors two annual Olin scholarships and an endowed scholarship at the University.

Thomas serves on Olin’s National Advisory Council and the Executive Alumni Association as well as the University’s Alumni Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees. He serves on multiple civic and educational boards in St. Louis.

Olin Award

Richard Mahoney, Olin executive in residence and former chairman and CEO of the Monsanto Co., presented the second annual Olin Award for faculty research. The $10,000 award, initiated by Mahoney, 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 Markus Baer, Ph.D., assistant professor of organizational behavior; Kurt Dirks, Ph.D., professor of organizational behavior; and Jackson A. Nickerson, Ph.D., the Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy. The paper is under consideration for publication in the Harvard Business Review.