Building on Olin’s faculty strength

One is a financial economist with nine top research publications under his belt. Another has been lauded with some of the most prestigious research awards in marketing. And a third is internationally renowned for her work on how firms organize across borders and influence the global economy. All three are outstanding teachers. 

Soon, all three will join WashU Olin Business School—with tenure. Washington University’s Board of Trustees approved their appointments last month. Indeed, the board has commended Olin’s team for the care we take in recruiting top faculty. 

Brett Green, Song Yao and Minyuan Zhao begin in July. These three professors, recruited by our excellent Olin faculty, have proven themselves as accomplished researchers and skilled teachers. They’re hitting it out of the park.

The faculty at WashU Olin continually raise the bar for whom we hire to join their ranks. Expectations are high for research productivity at WashU Olin. And we are recognized for our efforts: The Financial Times ranks us 12th in the world for excellence in research productivity. Indeed, the opportunity to join our world-class faculty and benefit from our world-class facilities is a significant draw. And we aim to get even stronger. 

Todd Milbourn, vice dean of faculty and research, is heading up our hiring strategy, which includes a tactical, five-year look ahead into the hiring needs for each academic area of the school: accounting, economics, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, operations and manufacturing management, and strategy.

“If you want to do world-leading research, you need world-leading scholars,” Todd said. “Instead of going solely after the rookie market—newly minted PhDs—we are making sure we are also recruiting professors who can move the research needle from the minute they step onto campus.”

So, the strategy is to systematically recruit seasoned and senior faculty who have a record of producing top research—scholars who are already well advanced in terms of their research excellence and productivity. It also includes identifying gaps in our research capabilities and expanding our expertise in areas such as entrepreneurship, innovation, healthcare and business analytics. And it includes driving greater diversity among our faculty.

And in areas where we have attracted tenured faculty, it will be important to continue to bring in rookies. Put in business terms, we want to better balance our portfolio—or, as Todd has said, “We want an even deeper bench of greatness.”

That greatness applies equally to teaching. With great research comes the expectation that new faculty members will be great instructors, bringing their cutting-edge business insights to the classroom and preparing our students for the world as it will be rather than the world as it is.

Recruiting can be challenging, to be sure. While we’re out recruiting, we know other universities are as well. We are working to do all we can to retain the talented faculty we have by providing the resources, recognition and opportunity to recharge they are due.

But what I’m excited about the most is the biggest opportunity that comes with continually and collaboratively building on our world-class faculty: Living up to the vision of our school by enhancing the world-changing research, teaching and impact of WashU Olin.

In Business & Research, Teaching & Learning
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