Jim and Mary Lawrence want to plug what they call the “doughnut hole” in the tenure track.
“When you get a PhD, we all know you are desperate for any job you can have, although that is less true of business schools” he says. “When you are offered a job at the U, you most likely will be delighted to take it.” He notes that the Carlson School has a proven track record of selecting the best of the next generation of faculty coming out of PhD programs.
The doughnut hole typically appears after the faculty member’s third or fourth year, or just after tenure. “At that time, the faculty member will have published probably the best research they will publish in the course of their lives,” he says. The research is out there for other institutions to see it. Let’s say they happen to need an expert on labor economics in Eastern Europe and there is a professor at the Carlson School who has written about it. Then they swoop in.
“At that point, the professor will be judging his or her options,” he says. “’OK, I’m pretty good at my discipline, but will I be better off at a big brand school?’ Stanford, Harvard, or Wharton might be able to steal our faculty.”
This is where the Lawrence Fellowship comes in. The purpose of the fellowship is to hold the best junior and mid-level faculty. “Hold them until we give them tenure, and just after,” he says. “It allows Dean Sri Zaheer and her committee to figure out who the people we hired four to eight years ago turned out to be the stars. Let’s give them more money or give them time off to do more wonderful research.”
Mary says the Fellowship is a great opportunity to retain the best at the Carlson School. “This is a critical time to keep your faculty happy and give them extra salary or some unencumbered time to do research and to let them know we appreciate what they are doing,” she says.
Five faculty members were honored as the inaugural Lawrence Fellows earlier this year. They include Information and Decision Sciences Assistant Professor Gordon Burtch and Associate Professor Yuqing Ren, Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship Assistant Professor Aseem Kaul, and Work and Organizations Assistant Professor Aaron Sojourner and Associate Professor Colleen Manchester.
“We met the Lawrence Fellows recently and they are just outstanding,” Jim says. For example, “We have this one woman [Manchester] who is a Stanford undergrad and a Stanford PhD and we got her, not Stanford B-school! That’s just fantastic.”
About the Lawrences
Mary Lawrence is an ophthalmologist who taught at the U of M Medical School and was a VA physician. Jim Lawrence was vice chairman of General Mills and is a long-time member of the Carlson School Board of Overseers.