From the Dean

Dean Johnson talks about people who perfectly capture the spirit of Owen right now: energetic, smart and engaged in ways that spur those around them to do great things.

From the Fall 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Dean JohnsonI have to confess that I am really proud of the cover of this issue of Vanderbilt Business. It’s not only because I think so highly of Owen Student Government Association President Catalina Lizarralde, Class of 2015, and new Alumni Board President Erika Bogar King, MBA’99. More than anything, it’s because they perfectly capture the spirit of Owen right now: energetic, smart and engaged in ways that spur those around them to do great things. In these pages, you’ll learn more about their backgrounds and the remarkable work they’re doing for the school.


Cata and Erika join other strong women at Owen making a tremendous impact. In a previous issue, you read about the important research that marketing professor Kelly Haws is doing around consumer psychology as it relates to things like healthy lifestyle choices. In this issue, you’ll read about Assistant Professor of Accounting Catherine Lee’s unique approach to understanding how companies think about and manage their earnings statements. On page 46, alumnus Nancy Abbott (EMBA’91) shares lessons from her rise through GE’s ranks to become head of global HR for the storied company’s capital real estate division. And on page 34, Kim Killingsworth, a former Peace Corps volunteer and now Owen’s director of international recruiting and relations, takes us behind the scenes of her globe-trotting schedule, complete with witnessing rocket attacks in Israel and dealing with a non-working ATM card in Peru.


In addition, I want to highlight Director of Admissions Christie St-John for her work with the Forté Foundation, a global organization dedicated to furthering the business careers and management education of women. Christie was a driving force in getting Vanderbilt named as a Forté partner institution, one of a handful of elite business schools that earned that designation this year. Our work with Forté speaks to the broader diversity—not just among gender, race or geography, but personal values and professional backgrounds as well—that we value so highly at Owen.


Two welcomes are also in order. Professor Craig M. Lewis returns to Owen’s finance faculty after a three-year stint as chief economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition to the wealth of knowledge—and potential speakers!—he brings back to campus, he is already exploring ways to leverage his SEC experience for students in the classroom as well as for his own academic research. We also welcome Assistant Professor Jessica Kennedy, who joins our human and organizational performance group. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she most recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wharton School. Jessica has already published much-discussed studies on gender issues in the workplace.

Finally, if you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to explore Vanderbilt’s new Academic Strategic Plan  (,unveiled earlier this year by Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. We are in the process of charting our own strategic map, building on Owen’s strengths while reflecting Vanderbilt’s direction. You will hear more about that plan in the days and weeks to come.


M. Eric Johnson
Ralph Owen Dean
Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy