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GW Dean Departs After MBA Ranking Mishap

Linda Livingstone is leaving GW’s business school as dean to become president of Baylor University

Well, that didn’t take very long.

Less than three years in the job as dean of George Washington University’s business school, Linda A. Livingstone is getting a promotion to become president of Baylor University. The appointment, announced today (April 18), occurs not much more than a month after her school was kicked off of U.S. News‘ ranking of the best full-time MBA programs.

Livingstone only joined GW’s business school in August of 2014 after serving as dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University for the previous 12 years. She was in the middle of a fundraising campaign and had recently helped to create a plan to payback George Washington University for $13 million in overspending that occurred when her predecessor, Dean Doug Guthrie invested in new online and executive education programs. Guthrie was fired for overspending the school’s budget, leaving a vacancy that Livingstone filled. Under the repayment plan, the business school was to return $6.5 million to the university over the next six years, starting this year, with an equivalent sum being contributed by the provost’s office.

JUMPING FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE?

Meantime, she leaves a business school that lost a crucial ranking under her leadership, a circumstance that will likely cause a decline in applications to the school’s full-time MBA program and a hit to its reputation and prestige. Last year, GW was ranked 51st by U.S. News. This year, it failed to make it onto the list of 95-ranked full-time MBA programs.

For Livingstone, the new Baylor job might well be the proverbial case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire because the Texas-based university has been plagued by sexual assault lawsuits and investigations. Among other things, one lawsuit alleges that that 52 rapes were committed by 31 Baylor football players from 2011 to 2014. Former President Ken Starr left his job after an external report found evidence of an administrative cover-up of sexual assault.

So Livingstone will be leaving a school that fell off a key ranking list for a university embroiled in a highly controversial sex scandal. To fall off the list, George Washington would have had to plummet at least 45 places. The magazine dropped the school after discovering what a spokesperson for GW said was “a discrepancy in our average GMAT score. After further review, we determined that the GMAT average we had provided to U.S. News for both the full-time and part-time MBA programs had been inadvertently miscalculated. We alerted U.S. News on March 9, provided them with the correct GMAT data, and confirmed on March 10 that all other business school data we provided was accurate.”

CHOSEN AFTER FIRST-ROUND INTERVIEWS WITH 61 CANDIDATES

Livingstone was chosen after a search committee at Baylor, assisted by search firm Heidrick & Struggles, reviewed more than 400 candidate backgrounds, contacted 150 individuals for screening conversations and held first-round interviews with 61 candidates. She will become Baylor’s first female president and the 15th president in the 172-year history of the Texas-based university, effective June 1. She will succeed David Garland, who has served as interim president during the last year.

In the university’s statement announcing the appointment, Baylor noted that George Washington has a culture grounded in service, and “Dr. Livingstone initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process for the school to capitalize on this core commitment. The effort resulted in establishing a strong financial operating base for the school and cross-university collaborations, enhanced teaching, greater research productivity and additional support through fundraising.”

Her return to Baylor is something of a revisit. She had spent her first 11 years in academia at Baylor, rising to an associate dean position and associate professor at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business before leaving for Pepperdine in 2002. “I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 15th President of Baylor University,” said Livingstone in a statement. “I chose to begin my academic career at Baylor in significant part because of Baylor’s Christian mission. To return to Baylor to partner with the exceptional faculty, staff, students and administrators to fulfill the University’s vision to be a top-tier research institution, committed to excellence in all aspects of University life, while strengthening the Christian mission is an opportunity I look forward to with enthusiasm.”

‘BRING AN ACCOMPLISHED ACADEMIC CAREER TO BAYLOR’

“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I am both proud and honored to announce Dr. Livingstone as Baylor’s next president during this important time for the University,” said Ronald D. Murff, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “Dr. Livingstone brings an accomplished academic career to Baylor, combined with a strong appreciation and support of Baylor’s mission. A longtime Baptist and former Baylor faculty member, she has a passion for the distinctiveness of Baylor’s Christian mission in higher education.”

Livingstone previously served as chair of the board of the international Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in 2014-2015 and has deep expertise in accreditation issues. The AACSB is the professional organization for business schools and accredits 786 of the best business schools globally across 53 countries and territories. She chaired the AACSB Committee on Accreditation Policy in 2015-2016.

“Linda Livingstone has been a stellar dean and an excellent colleague,” said Steven Knapp, president of The George Washington University, in a statement. “I am sure that our entire GW community joins me in wishing Linda all success in her important new role and that Baylor University will benefit tremendously from her leadership.”

A DOZEN YEARS AT PEPPERDINE

Prior to her tenure at George Washington, Dr. Livingstone served 12 years at Pepperdine, similar to Baylor as a faith-based university, as dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management from 2002-2014. With a focus on excellence in teaching, scholarship and Christian values, Baylor said that she had brought significant visibility and resources to the Graziadio School, including overseeing a $200 million expansion of its graduate campuses and the addition of an executive conference center. Under Dr. Livingstone’s leadership, the school also experienced significant progress in its full-time, executive and fully employed MBA programs, and in the area of entrepreneurship, as well as greater scholarship support for students.

“My time at Baylor as a faculty member and associate dean was formative in my academic career and in developing my passion for academic administration,” added Livingstone. “Baylor’s unique culture of care and compassion – that I experienced personally from my colleagues and that I saw demonstrated among faculty, staff and students – continues to inspire and influence me as an administrator. Continuing to strengthen Baylor’s culture where faculty, staff and students are encouraged, inspired and cared for by one another is a priority.”

A native of Perkins, Oklahoma, Livingstone began her academic career at her alma mater, Oklahoma State University, where she earned her bachelor of science degree in economics and management, master of business administration, and doctorate in management and organizational behavior. A member of Oklahoma State’s Spears School of Business Hall of Fame, Livingstone was the first recipient of the Outstanding Ph.D. Alumnus Award, and she was recognized in 2015 with the OSU Distinguished Alumni Award.

WAS A FOUR-YEAR LETTER WINNER ON THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM

While at Oklahoma State, Livingstone was a four-year letter winner on the women’s basketball team from 1978-1982 and was named a “Big 8 Scholar-Athlete” in 1982. Her husband, Brad, also played basketball at Oklahoma State (1978-1982), and their daughter, Shelby, recently completed her junior season as a volleyball student-athlete at Rice University. Brad Livingstone currently serves as the Dean of Students and teaches history at the Trinity Christian School, in Fairfax, Virginia, where Livingstone has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2015.

“The Presidential Search Committee had a very strong candidate pool coming from the traditional academic fields as well as nontraditional candidates from government, military and corporate life,” Brewton said. “In the end, Dr. Livingstone’s experience uniquely fit the profile of the dynamic faith and transformational leader which Baylor needs at this point in time in our history.”

“We had strong interest in the position from accomplished candidates both inside and outside of academia,” Murff added. “Candidates admired Baylor’s significant growth over the past decade and saw tremendous potential in elevating the University’s academic profile even further while staying true to our Christian mission.”