Kelli R. Levey, November 30th, 2015
In July 2015, Dean Eli Jones named Wendy R. Boswell as the head of the Department of Management, succeeding Ricky Griffin who served from 2011 to 2014, and Duane Ireland, who was interim department head for a year after Griffin became interim dean. Boswell is a powerhouse among researchers, particularly in the field of human resource management. Her scholarship that is concerned with employee attraction and retention, job search behavior and the work/non-work interface has appeared in various scholarly and practitioner journals.
Boswell was recruited to Texas A&M University in 2000 as an assistant professor at Mays Business School after she earned her Ph.D. from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She was an assistant professor until being promoted in 2005 to associate professor and appointed as director of the Center for Human Resource Management. She has held the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in Business at Mays since 2013.
She serves on the editorial boards for several academic publications and is an associate editor for Personnel Psychology. She also served as the 2012-13 Chair of the HR Division of the Academy of Management and is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association.
Boswell said that her willingness to accept different roles in the management department over time (such as her service as Director of the CHRM Center and as the department’s Doctoral Program Coordinator) yielded valuable opportunities for her to learn about the challenges associated with leading what is an eclectic management department. These experiences, coupled with her strong commitment to observe others in various leadership roles, have served as an excellent foundation for her work as head of the management department.
Her former department head, Murray Barrick, shared accolades about Boswell. “Every day is a fun day with Wendy Boswell. She is smart, persistent, loyal, and as just noted, enjoys having fun,” he said. “She has impressed me with her thoughtful approach to capitalizing on someone’s strengths to re-organize work and by doing so has ensured that her faculty and staff experience even more success and embrace the opportunity to showcase their talents. I expect Wendy will have a long and successful career as a leader of the department.”
Boswell’s goals for the management department include those of preparing for faculty retirements that are imminent and working with others to further enhance key high impact programs within the department involving entrepreneurship and human resource management as well as help shape innovative programs within Mays such as the new Master of Science in Business degree and customized executive programs for the Center for Executive Development.
Based on her field of study, Boswell is committed to leading employees in ways that capitalize on their strengths. She aims to foster inclusion within the department between the varying groups – non-tenure track faculty, the tenured and non–tenured professors, staff and the center directors. “Just a few months ago, I may not have understood why some things were done the way they were,” she said. “Now, I may have a new perspective but I also bring insight from being a faculty member here in Mays for a while and from serving in different roles within the department. With this perspective, there are a few things I can do. For instance, our intradepartmental communication can be improved and we can better capitalize on the unique strengths individuals bring to the department and school.”
John Boudreau, who was Boswell’s dissertation chair when she was a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, said she was patient and gifted when working as a research assistant through several rounds of writing and editing research articles.
He described her as “remarkably modest. “On one paper, I gave her a conceptual outline of something I thought might be interesting. In her customary way she did a very thorough job producing quite a nice first draft,” he recalled. “When I noted how much work she had done, she simply said, ‘It was all in your outline, I just filled it in.’”
At Mays, the department head must also be a full professor. Boswell teaches courses on human resource management at the undergraduate, graduate (master’s and doctoral) and executive levels, and was the recipient of the Center for Teaching Excellence Montague Scholar Award (2004) and the Dr. Ricky W. Griffin Research Award (2012).
“Being a department head is like a double or triple dose of responsibility, because you’ve got commitments to your class and research program but also a whole lot of administrative tasks including plenty of meetings,” she said. “You have formal responsibilities, but you also have ‘fires’ – all these peripheral things to deal with when things pop up. You cannot schedule for those things and I have learned that each day cannot be planned. If I get one thing done on my ‘to-do’ list, I feel like that’s pretty good.”
Another of Boswell’s challenges will be continuing to balance her job with her role as wife and mom of two children. Even though she has done extensive research on work-nonwork conflict and had a study on the pros and cons of constant connection to work published recently in Academy of Management Journal, Boswell says the delineation doesn’t come easily to her. “I think you can have it all, it just depends on how you define ‘all.’ I’ll just have to keep shifting to meet the demands before me.”
“Even though it wasn’t strategized, I could see this new role coming,” she said, referring to preparation by her predecessors Ricky Griffin, Duane Ireland, and Murray Barrick and a key mentor Don Hellriegel. “I knew my colleagues believed in me and had faith in my ability to lead.”
BOSWELL’S ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS
2015 – Head of the Department of Management, Mays Business School
2013 – Holder of the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in Business
2012-2013 Rebecca U. ’74 & William S. Nichols III ’74 Professor of Management, Mays Business School
2005-2011 Director, Center for Human Resource Management (CHRM), Mays Business School
2005–2012 Associate Professor of Management, Mays Business School
2000–2005 Assistant Professor of Management, Mays Business School
Cornell University, Ph.D., May 2000, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Major: Human Resource Studies, Minors: Management, Statistics
Cornell University, M.S., May 1997, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
California State University, Fresno, B.S., December 1994, Craig School of Business, Major: Human Resource Management, Graduated Magna Cum Laude