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Darla Moore School of Business

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Retired Moore School professors continue ‘fellowship and collegiality’ with coffee group, check ins during pandemic

Every Monday and Wednesday before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as a dozen retired Moore School professors gathered in the Darla Moore School of Business. On a particular Wednesday in February 2020, this group included Jim Hilton, Bob Markland, John Wilenborg, Jim Bradley, Bill Bearden and Ed Hickman. While the former faculty members had to stop meeting in person because of the pandemic, they continued to check in with one another by phone and hope to be able to visit in person again soon.

When together, they recall their days in the Close-Hipp Building — the home of the business school beginning in 1973 before the completion of the new building in 2014 — when they had coffee in the faculty lounge together every morning. They continue this tradition to retain their “fellowship and collegiality,” Wilenborg said.

Wilenborg, a marketing professor at the Moore School from 1969 to 2005, said it is very easy to lose track of what is going on in the school after retirement, so their coffee gatherings help

him stay connected.

Although most of the attendees retired in the early 2000s, they remain involved in the Moore School by attending functions.

“I like to go to the Shuck & Shag alumni event and other Moore School events because of the possibility of running into a former student or two,” said Bearden, a marketing professor from 1978 to 2010 who received the Association for Consumer Research Fellows award in fall 2019.

Emphasizing the importance of maintaining their relationships, these retired professors have also vacationed at the beach together nearly every year since 1962. Hilton, hired as an economics professor in 1960 and retired as associate dean for academic affairs in 1998, said at the beach trips’ peak, as many as 60 professors attended. The professors spent their time telling stories and playing golf and poker.

Realizing that significant changes have occurred within the Moore School and USC since they taught, the retired professors are amazed at the Moore School’s growth and progress.

Hickman said the school is “just so much bigger.” He said there were only 35 Moore School faculty members when he began teaching in 1963 as an associate professor of business. Today, there are 176 full-time faculty as well as 63 part-time faculty.

There is also much more diversity among both the faculty and students now, Bearden added. The retired professors also see a difference in the weight on research.

“The research component is ever increasing,” said Markland, a management science professor, management science department chair and associate dean for administration between 1969 and 2008. “If you are going to be a professor here now, you should expect to work really hard and publish many research papers.”

The retired professors encouraged their successors to focus on fostering a collegial atmosphere within the Moore School.

“We used to have such a great environment for sharing,” Bradley said.

An economics professor from 1974 to 2007, Bradley remembers when department members were scattered all around the building, a dispersement that encouraged faculty to interact more. He said he hopes to see that fellowship return amongst faculty members despite them being separated into individual departments so that faculty fellowship can continue.

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