Portrait of Professor Emeritus Andrew Van de Ven

Gift From Van de Ven Establishes Endowments, Fellowships, Conference

Friday, April 8, 2022

Public education is a core value for Andrew and Martha Van de Ven, and with it comes the need to serve the community, as called for by the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which helped establish the University of Minnesota, among others.

A professor emeritus in the Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship and the Work and Organizations departments, Andrew has taught at the Carlson School for more than 40 years. An educator herself, Martha was a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and now serves on the Board of Orono (Minn.) Public Schools. 

Now, through a generous gift, they’re paying it forward to future educators at the Carlson School. The Van de Vens are supporting an endowed professorship, faculty fellowships, and a new conference focused on engaged scholarship. “The essence of life is to pass it on,” Andrew Van de Ven says. “Most of my professional opportunities have been provided by others and now it’s time for me to pay it forward to the next generation of faculty and students.” 

At the Carlson School, Van de Ven was the Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change. He taught courses on the management of organizational innovation and change, and research methods that involved engaged scholarship. His award-winning research focused on nominal group brainstorming techniques, organization design, innovation and change, and engaged scholarship. “One of the ways I judge the quality of my research or teaching is to talk with students 20 years after they graduate,” he says. “If they say they still use the knowledge they learned from my course, that’s the best compliment they can give me. That makes my day!”

A desire to help solve major business problems and advance scientific knowledge inspired him to develop the engaged scholarship research method. Andrew Van de Ven notes that “many business problems exceed our limited individual capabilities. Engaged scholarship is a participative form of research for obtaining the viewpoints of key stakeholders (researchers, policy makers, practitioners) to understand a complex problem being studied. By exploring differences in the kinds of knowledge that stakeholders can bring forth on a problem, we can produce knowledge that is more penetrating and insightful than when scholars or practitioners work on the problems alone.”

“If one faculty member can advance his or her work, that in turn, affects thousands of students throughout that faculty’s career, then investing in faculty and their development is the seedbed, the generator, for excellence in education.”

Professor Emeritus Andrew Van de Van

To foster the future of business, the endowed professorship and faculty fellowships will help support the Carlson School’s faculty members who are early in their careers. “If one faculty member can advance his or her work, that in turn, affects thousands of students throughout that faculty’s career, then investing in faculty and their development is the seedbed, the generator, for excellence in education,” Andrew Van de Ven explains.

Along with financial support for faculty, the Van de Ven’s gift will also help launch a new conference series—the Andrew Van de Ven Conference for Engaged Scholarship. The idea for the conference came to Dean Sri Zaheer who noticed there were few enrichment and networking opportunities for our PhD students and alumni, and no association for the extensive diaspora of Carlson School PhD alumni throughout the world.

The conference will bring together Carlson School PhD graduates and current students as well as faculty and managers to discuss and learn about critical issues happening in business, such as sustainability, poverty, or the current supply chain issues occurring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference will also invite leading scholars, executives and policy makers to share their insights. 

“Engaged scholarship introduces the idea that our research should be problem-focused,” Andrew Van de Ven says. “I hope the conference engages academics from different disciplines and practitioners from different functional areas to come together to discuss important managerial problems, and thereby advance knowledge for theory and practice.”

He sees his philanthropy as a way to support the intellectual community “from which I benefitted during my time at the Carlson School through teaching, research, publications, seminars, and stimulating engagements with colleagues, students, and managers in the business world.” Now, Van de Ven wants to help the next generation of scholars and support the community he has come to love by giving back. “We want to give because we believe public education is so important,” he explains. “As Henry Adams said, ‘Teachers affect eternity. No one knows where their influence stops.’”

Spring 2022 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 alumni magazine

Strength is determined by how we rise in the face of challenges. 

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