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Seattle University


Cause for Celebration

Written by Mike Thee
December 6, 2011

The Albers School of Business and Economics installed two of its faculty as endowed chairs and a third as endowed professor at a ceremony on Dec. 2. 

Before a packed room of colleagues and friends of the Albers School, Jot Yau (left) was installed as the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance; Niranjan “Chips” Chipalkatti (right) as the Robert D. O’Brien Chair of Business; and Carl Obermiller (center) as the George Albers Professor. 

“The seating of a new endowed professor or chair is always a cause for celebration,” Provost Isiaah Crawford said at the ceremony. “Endowed chairs and professors are the hallmark of an excellent institution. When academic institutions have outstanding people serve as members of their faculty in this way it draws brilliant students and brilliant new faculty to the university, who in turn, enhance the vibrancy and intellectual rigor of the university.” 

Established by Albers alumnus Gary Brinson, ’66, to honor his former professor, the Dibee Chair is a four-year appointment. Yau is the second holder of the Dibee Chair, succeeding Peter Brous, professor of finance. Invited by Albers Dean Joe Phillips to share his plans as Dibee Chair, Yau responded, “The main thing is to fill [Brous’s] shoes. Peter wears 10 1/2; I wear size eight,” a comment that elicited great laughter from the audience. More specifically, Yau, a professor of finance, said he intends to use his time as chair to strengthen ties with the professional community.  

Yau, Phillips noted, teaches primarily in the areas of investments, portfolio management and hedge funds, and is widely published in leading journals. Has authored two books and has served on several editorial boards. 

Chipalkatti follows management professor Greg Prussia as the 14th O’Brien Chair, named for the former Board of Regents and Trustees chair who is widely credited with helping to develop the university and guide it through challenging times in the 1960s and 70s. Like Yau, Chipalkatti gave a nod to his predecessor, calling him “a great scholar and a nasty racquetball player.” 

Phillips called Chipalkatti, a profesor of accounting, “a major contributor to our business valuation program and an accomplished scholar.” 

One of Chipalkatti’s first orders of business as O’Brien Chair will be to host the 2012 Congress on Fair Value this winter, which will draw valuation practitioners from throughout the country. 

The three-year George Albers Professorship is one of three endowed professorships named for members of the Albers family, well-known for its generosity to SU. Obermiller, who succeeds marketing professor Greg Magnan as the third holder of the professorship, teaches courses on marketing and social issues, marketing metrics and new product development.  

“Holding this professorship is an honor, and I hope that I can wear the mantle well,” said Obermiller, professor and chair of the marketing department. Among other pursuits, Obermiller intends to continue his research on consumer skepticism, including, he added wryly, “Why in the world consumers ever believe marketers." 

Phillips said, “(Obermiller) has published in some of the top journals in his field,” and recognized the professor as “a driving force” behind Albers’ sustainability specialization MBA program as well as co-chair of the President’s Committee for Sustainability.