© Evanston Photographic
memoriam: Professor Emeritus Lawrence "Gene" Lavengood
Northwestern University and Kellogg School of Management professor
and scholar of business history and ethics Lawrence G. Lavengood
died July 13.
Due to production constraints, news of Prof. Lavengood's death
appeared in abbreviated form in the summer Kellogg
We include a fuller tribute here.
of Business History, Lawrence "Gene" Lavengood
enjoyed a long tenure at Northwestern and the Kellogg School,
arriving in 1953 and teaching at the school until his retirement
in 1994. Even then, he remained involved at Kellogg and Northwestern,
residing in Evanston and occasionally teaching special seminars
and at alumni events. Professor Lavengood was 82.
began his Northwestern career at the School of Commerce, which
later became the Kellogg School. He started teaching during
a time when executive education was developing and the university
was cultivating closer relationships with business practitioners.
Half a century ago, remembered Professor Lavengood in a 2005
interview, Northwestern was redesigning its business curriculum
to make it more integrated, along lines set forth by Dean
Lavengood's classes would help students — and sometimes
as many as 150 enrolled at a time, filling an auditorium in
Memorial Hall — appreciate the rich historical context
of U.S. business.
regarded the classroom as a kind of theater, and the students,
not as the audience but, along with me, the players ... giving
shape and substance to our discussions," said Lavengood
on his training as a doctoral student in history at the University
of Chicago, Lavengood's course presented an overview of American
history from colonial times forward, but with a focus on economics
and business. "You can't teach those without exploring
a good deal of political and social history as well,"
recalled Lavengood. "It was a richly textured course."
Professor Lavengood taught history at Simpson College in Indianola,
Iowa, prior to coming to Northwestern.
at Kellogg, he also taught classes on management's social
and ethical dimensions, bringing history and the humanities
to bear on business, and anticipating trends that would gain
currency in management education decades later.
you start with the curbstone view that business is business
and ethics is ethics," said Lavengood in 1978. "But
the fact is that the whole economy ... is an expression of utilitarian
ethics, an ancient and honorable system that says the morality
of an act is its consequences.
principal consequence to be desired is the greatest good for
the greatest number."
recently, Lavengood continued to demonstrate the ranging intellect
and wit that informed his teaching, underscoring why the Kellogg
School's highest teaching award for the "Professor of
Year" is named in his honor.
colleagues remember Professor Lavengood both for his scholarship
and amicability. Kellogg
Dean Emeritus Donald
P. Jacobs, whose tenure at Northwestern largely overlapped
with Lavengood's, recalled his colleague as a person who could
always be counted on to make contributions.
was an extraordinarily accomplished teacher who demonstrated
a natural ability. Listening to Gene talk was a real treat,"
said Dean Jacobs, who also noted the leadership role that
Lavengood played in advancing race relations at Northwestern
and in the Evanston community in the early 1960s. "He
was part of the drive in Evanston to integrate the community,"
other efforts, Lavengood contributed to the Leadership Education
and Development (LEAD) initiative at Kellogg, an outreach
program that encourages minority high school students to pursue
students also recalled Lavengood's influence.
Lavengood made an impression when I was a student by treating
me as an individual who had worth, and might even have some
intelligent ideas," said Jeff Pope '64. "He probed
and challenged and debated, and in the process taught many
of us how to think."
Barbara Olin Taylor '78: "He made scholars out of students
in spite of ourselves.
With his pedagogical mastery he motivated us to ponder
more deeply our readings, probe more extensively our papers. As we wrote our exams, we saw more clearly the purpose of his
questions and then risked an answer that required more scope."
Sugarman '64, law professor at the University of California-Berkeley,
remembered Lavengood as a role model. "It was 12 years from the time I
first sat in Lavengood's business history class until I stood
before my own first class of law students as a young professor
at Berkeley. Through my 34 years in academia, I have
tried to pattern at least part of my career after his, especially
the part about being honest with, open to, and caring about
students — although I am sure I have never
measured up to his standard." — Matt Golosinski