February 10, 2011

Gift funds endowed professorship in management

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An alumnus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale is funding an endowed professorship in the College of Business.

Hinsdale businessman Gregory A. Lee said he is making the endowment in appreciation of the education he received at the University, to assure future generations will likewise benefit, and to encourage faculty research and study. The Gregory A. Lee Professorship in Management recognizes a tenured or tenure-track management faculty member in the College of Business who has earned national recognition for research efforts and who teaches and mentors students.

“We are very appreciative of Greg Lee’s generous contribution to SIUC and the College of Business. His gift will have a significant and lasting impact,” Dean J. Dennis Cradit said.

Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1972 at SIUC and went on to serve in numerous high-level corporate positions in the ensuing years. He is donating $250,000 over a five-year period to establish the professorship endowment.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my business career and I’ve benefited greatly from my education and experience at SIUC,” Lee said. “In looking back at my time there one of the most important things that I benefited directly from was having motivated and inspiring teachers that challenged me to be the best student I could be.

“Throughout my business career, I’ve observed time and time again how managers that were great teachers often had the highest performing individuals and teams. Great teachers are fundamental to any high-performing organization, whether business or academic. This is my opportunity to say ‘Thank you,’ to SIUC for everything it gave to me. It’s a tremendous privilege to be able to help Dean Cradit and the business college attract and retain the very best teaching talent. SIUC business students deserve no less than I had,” Lee added.

Lee has extensive corporate management and leadership experience, including overseeing the development of human resources strategy and initiatives for Atlanta-based Coca Cola Enterprises, the largest supplier for Coca Cola. He served as an independent consultant in Chicago, was senior vice president of human resources for Sears, Roebuck and Co., as well as for Whirlpool Corp. and St. Paul Companies, Inc. Lee also served stints as vice president of personnel for Frito-Lay, Inc., vice president of human resources for PepsiCo Food Service International, vice president of employee relations for Pepsi-Cola East, director of personnel for Pepsi USA, vice president of personnel for Wilson Sporting Goods and in other business leadership capacities.

Lee is a 2004 inductee into the SIUC College of Business Hall of Fame and the 2008 recipient of the College of Business Alumni Achievement Award that the SIUC Alumni Association sponsors. In recognition of his endowment gift, Lee has entered the Henry J. Rehn Society at the silver level. Membership in the society honors and recognizes those who make a significant investment to ensure that the College of Business achieves its mission.

The first recipient of The Gregory A. Lee Professorship in Management is Steven J. Karau. The primetime ABC news program “20/20” featured Karau’s research on social loafing in the 2006 episode “The Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth” and his research is widely published in other venues.

“Being named the first Gregory A. Lee Professor of Management is a great honor and provides strong motivation to continue to pursue high-quality research that may help address important practical problems in organizations,” Karau said.

An SIUC faculty member since 1998, Karau teaches courses in organizational behavior, human resources and research methodology. His research examines social and motivational aspects of individual behavior in group and organizational settings. Karau arrived as an assistant professor in management and became an associate professor and earned tenure in 2002. A full professor since 2008, he is also an adjunct faculty member in the psychology department.

“In the years he has been with us, Steve Karau has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the very best in teaching, research and service. I am very proud of his accomplishments and I think I speak for all of us in saying that he is a credit to his department, his college and his university,” Cradit said.

With more than 30 articles in leading management and psychology journals to his credit, other scholars often cite Karau. He is currently examining how the beliefs of group members affect the workings and performance of teams, how upper-level management team dynamics affect the performance of a firm, and how factors like personality and specific situations influence how people perceive the ethics of an organization.

“My research seeks to provide a better understanding of what influences individuals to work hard versus slack off on group tasks, how teams can be better designed to improve performance, the unique barriers that women in leadership roles may face, and what influences peoples’ ethical judgments about various organizational change initiatives,” Karau said.

During his “20/20” appearance, Karau replicated experiments illustrating how individual motivation and behavior affect work teams. SIUC students participated in the filmed scenes.

Before joining the SIUC faculty, Karau taught at the University of Toledo, Clemson University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A Phoenix native, Karau earned his doctorate in 1993 and his master’s degree in 1990, both in social psychology, at Purdue University. His 1987 Bachelor of Science is from Arizona State University.

Karau has several times earned a spot on the SIUC College of Business’ Outstanding Research Honor Roll and won other honors as well, including the college’s Scholar of the Year award in 2007.

The Gregory A. Lee Professorship in Management endowment income can fund research, graduate assistantships, salary supplements, summer stipends, travel and other expenses as authorized by the dean.