Allen and Kelli Questrom Endow Two Professorships Through $10 Million Gift

in Alumni, Faculty, Honors & Awards, News, Press Release, School
April 9th, 2014

Karen Golden-Biddle and Susan Fournier honored with endowed chairs

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Questrom speaks at a luncheon celebrating the two professorships he and his wife, Kelli, recently endowed at SMG.

Allen Questrom (SMG’64) and his wife of 45 years, Kelli, have endowed two new chairs through a $10 million gift donated to Boston University School of Management in spring 2012, one of the most significant in the history of SMG, which also provides seed funding for a planned new building to house graduate programs at SMG. The chairs were presented to professors Karen Golden-Biddle and Susan Fournier on April 8.

A master of retail, Questrom directed the successful turnarounds of several major department and specialty store retailers, including J.C. Penney, Barneys New York, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus, and served as a director of Wal-Mart—but not before sitting in the classrooms of SMG, which he considers the springboard for his extensive career in retail management.

While attending SMG, Questrom met professors who would ultimately inspire his path to becoming an icon of corporate America. Questrom credits one in particular, the late Professor Alan Beckwith, with igniting his passion.

“He changed my life in probably 10 different ways,” says Questrom, who now shares his business experience as a Boston University Trustee and member of the Development Committee of the Board. Upon graduation, Questrom had no interest in retail—in fact, he planned to be a ski instructor for the winter. Beckwith, who was Questrom’s professor in an elective on retailing, saw a bright future for him in retail, and encouraged Questrom to pursue an opportunity with New York department store Abraham and Strauss—an opportunity that started Questrom on his path to becoming the go-to mind in retail and introduced him to his wife Kelli.

Striving to build upon SMG’s legacy of inspiring professors, the Questroms honored both Golden-Biddle and Fournier with an endowed chair at a celebratory luncheon at SMG. President Robert A. Brown, University Provost Jean Morrison, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean Kenneth W. Freeman, and a large audience, including Golden-Biddle’s and Fournier’s faculty colleagues, family, and friends, attended the event, showing strong support for Golden-Biddle and Fournier, as well as gratitude for the Questroms’ generous donation to the School.

Golden-Biddle, who joined SMG in 2007, was elated when she learned that she would become the next Allen and Kelli Questrom Professor in Management.

“Whether in retail or philanthropy, the Questroms are people of integrity,” says Golden-Biddle. “I am deeply honored to hold this title.”

A professor of organizational behavior and senior associate dean, Golden-Biddle has garnered much attention for her scholarly contributions to understanding how organizations drive and manage change.

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Bottom row, from left: Professor Susan Fournier, Professor Karen Golden-Biddle; Top row, from left: President Robert A. Brown, Allen Questrom, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean Kenneth W. Freeman

Along with receiving the Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award from 2007-2013, she received the 2013 Douglas McGregor Award for her work in organizational change, and in 2003 was awarded the Academy of Management’s Robert McDonald Award for the Advancement of Organizational Research Methodology.

Golden-Biddle, who holds a BA from Denison University and an MBA and PhD from Case Western Reserve University, has published two books and more than fifty articles and book chapters in top management journals—and her work won’t stop there.

“This chair provides a platform for the research I have been doing, and secures that platform to stretch it even further,” notes Golden-Biddle. 

Golden-Biddle says she is thrilled to share this experience with Fournier, who came to SMG in 2005 and now serves as faculty director of the MBA program. As Fournier puts it, “It’s like having an academic sister. We are connected forever by this amazing donor.”

As a professor of marketing and dean’s research fellow, Fournier explores the creation and capture of value through branding and brand relationships. She is the winner of seven academic awards, including the Long-Term Contribution Award in Consumer Research and Emerald’s Citations of Excellence Award for the top 50 articles in Management, and maintains a range of consulting assignments dedicated to the commercialization of brand relationships to inform her teaching and research, such as a partnership with GfK, a top market research institute.

Fournier, who holds a BS in marketing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an MS in marketing from Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD from the University of Florida, is particularly excited that the endowed chairs were both given to women, raising the School’s number of female endowed chairs from one to three.

What’s more, says Fournier, this professorship reflects SMG’s dedication to retaining and rewarding faculty who represent its powerful voice. “It allows me to be a part of the School’s message that we’re a world-class research institution.”