Impacting Academic Innovation


Leonard Berry // Marketing

“I love the synergy between teaching and research,” said Leonard Berry, Ph.D. “It is exciting when students can experience both the ‘discovery’ and ‘dissemination’ roles that academics play.” Berry has been merging his research and teaching for his students for the 38 years he has been a Mays faculty member.

Berry, University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is widely regarded as one of the inventors of the services marketing field. Berry also coined the term “Relationship Marketing.” Both Services Marketing and Relationship Marketing are mainstream subject areas in marketing today that Berry and colleagues in Mays Business School played a key role in creating. Since 2001, Berry has bridged his background in the services field to the study of healthcare services and has published extensively in medical journals on improving the patient experience, with particular focus on improving service in cancer care.

Berry says, “Research is hard work, and if you are going to do it, you should do it to address important problems that matter to managers and that benefit society.”

Rajan Varadarajan // Marketing

The creation of knowledge through the pursuit of scholarly research and dissemination of knowledge in classrooms and other means are two sides of a coin, according to Rajan Varadarajan, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, and Ford Chair in Marketing & E-Commerce.

Known for his research in understanding, explaining, and predicting the behavior of firms in the marketplace, Varadarajan uses his research to create impactful knowledge in the undergraduate capstone course and master’s level product innovation course he teaches. “The focus of scholarly research is creation and dissemination of knowledge,” Varadarajan opined. “In a couple of instances, the questions that students raised in class during the course of my lecture have been a springboard for my research.”

Varadarajan believes that knowledge creation, through the pursuit of scholarly research and knowledge dissemination, in forums such as classrooms and vehicles, such as scholarly journals and books, are among the core missions of educators in higher education.

Currently in the fifth decade of his academic journey, Varadarajan now requires his students in both levels of his courses to prepare and submit an Innovation Diary of about eight to 12 innovations. “I am amazed at leading-edge innovations that students write about. I’ve seen environmental sustainability-oriented innovations, social innovations, digital innovations, and potentially transformational innovations.”

Ricky Griffin // Management

With six books currently in print and in widespread use, Ricky Griffin, Ph.D., is no stranger to the impacts on Academic Innovation. “I’ve worked closely with my publishers to make sure that content aligns with student needs and expectations and to look for ways to lower the costs of educational materials,” Griffin said.

The John R Blocker Chair in Business and a University Distinguished Professor of Management, Griffin’s research has led him to approach problems, challenges, questions, and opportunities from the perspective of the scientific method, an approach usually reserved for white lab coats. Griffin uses that scientific method on theories and research used in his books.

Griffin was one of the first people to research workplace violence and aggression from a business perspective and helped to define that research domain. In the same way, he has helped define the way that textbooks are used and updated. His books are widely used and have been translated and adapted for use in several other countries.

As an educator of Undergraduate Business Honors students, Executive MBA students, and Master of Human Resource Management students, as well as executives in the Center for Executive Development, Griffin interacts with a myriad of different people. Through his involvement in textbook writing, scholarly research, and expertise in leadership and talent management, Griffin notes that it is always interesting how all of these groups of students and branches of knowledge interact. “It’s fascinating how each of the individual activities both informs and is informed by others.”

Duane Ireland // Office of the Dean

For the better part of 40 years, the fields of strategic entrepreneurship, mergers and acquisitions, innovation, and organizational productivity have seen a large impact from Duane Ireland, Ph.D., Executive Associate Dean, University Distinguished Professor, and Benton Cocanougher Chair in Business at Mays Business School.

As an unofficial Chief Operating Officer of Mays, Ireland has a front-row seat to the ways that Academic Innovation enhances students’ job skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. Because of his widely-referenced research (55,608 citations and counting), Ireland has largely played a role in Academic Innovation across the board. “Innovative research results are the foundation for explaining important concepts to students through the written word,” Ireland said.

There’s no one single place you can pinpoint in Academic Innovation as attribution to Ireland. Yet there are ample examples of the impactful knowledge he is creating. Ireland has been involved with multiple additions of two textbooks widely used in Management and Entrepreneurship classes across the country. “Academic Innovation increases students’ curiosity about how the world works,” he said. “It helps students to see what their role in society is and seems to resonate well with them.”