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Donors’ gift will help grad students take advantage of academic, professional conferences

Feb 22, 2017

O.C. and Linda Ferrell know the world of academia. Both are distinguished professors who have taught at the graduate level at top business schools for decades, chaired dissertation committees, served on corporate and nonprofit boards and researched and published extensively.

So when the Ferrells say it’s critical for graduate students to attend academic and professional conferences in their fields, it carries some weight. They feel so strongly about it that they recently made a $1 million bequest to the Florida State University College of Business – a gift that could eventually double – with the express purpose of providing graduate students, particularly at the Ph.D. level, the kind of support that will give them a career edge.

“It’s helpful for Ph.D. students to travel to academic conferences because not only do they get to know the people in their fields who can help them, but also they can get known, which is important for their career advancement,” said Linda Ferrell, currently a Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Business Ethics at Massey College of Business at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. “Professional conferences give them a look at real, practical issues they can bring back to the classroom and enhance the relevance and managerial implications of their research.”

Though Linda earned her doctorate at the University of Memphis and her MBA and undergraduate degrees at Illinois State University, the Ferrells chose the FSU College of Business as the beneficiary of their bequest because they have had a longstanding relationship with the college. O.C., who also holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Business Ethics at Belmont, earned his bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in business (’64) and his MBA in marketing (’66) at FSU. Throughout the years they’ve funded scholarships, awards and a doctoral student office for Legacy Hall, the college’s planned new facility, and lectured in the classroom on business ethics.

Both will be joining the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University this summer. Linda, will be professor and chair of the Department of Marketing, and O.C., will serve as the James T. Pursell, Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics and director of the Center for Organizational Ethical Cultures.

“I had an excellent experience at FSU and that put me on the track to success, so we decided FSU was where we wanted to give back,” said O.C. Ferrell, who earned his doctorate at Louisiana State University. “We have close friends at FSU and some of our favorite people ended up joining the FSU faculty.”

One of those people is the college’s dean, Michael Hartline. O.C. Ferrell chaired Hartline’s dissertation committee at the University of Memphis, where Hartline earned his Ph.D. in 1993. The three have maintained a decades-long friendship based on mutual regard.

The Ferrells have been prolific writers in their distinguished academic careers. They are authors or co-authors of several books, including the most used college textbooks on business ethics – “Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases”— as well as “Principles of Marketing,” “Introduction to Business,” and “Marketing Strategy, Business and Society.” They have published extensively in major research journals, including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing and the Journal of Business Ethics, among others.

Before joining the faculty at Belmont, O.C. Ferrell served as University Distinguished Professor and Creative Enterprise Scholar at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management and, with Linda, co-managed two $1.25 million grants for business ethics education through the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at New Mexico. He is on the board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Center for the Public Trust and as an advisory board member of Savant Learning Systems. He writes weekly business ethics summaries and reviews for The Wall Street Journal.

Linda Ferrell served as a professor of marketing at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. Her research interests include marketing ethics, ethics training and effectiveness, the legalization of business ethics, and corporate social responsibility and sustainability. She serves on the board of Nasdaq-listed Mannatech, the Direct Selling Education Foundation and Executive Committee, the Cutco Vector College Advisory Board, and the NASBA Center for the Public Trust board. Before joining academia, she was an account executive with McDonald’s and Pizza Hut’s advertising agencies. 

“Both O.C. and Linda have been extraordinary role models for countless students throughout the years, including me,” Hartline said. “I’m so pleased that they remain connected to FSU and the College of Business, not only with this gift, but also with their classroom involvement. Their investment in the college continues to provide a strong foundation in ethical thinking and behavior for our future business leaders and educators.”

By Barbara Ash





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