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Bentley University Announces Keynote Speakers for the Inauguration of President Alison Davis-Blake
Former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and Stanford University Management Expert Jeffrey Pfeffer Will Give Addresses over Multi-Day Event

The inauguration of Dr. Alison Davis-Blake as Bentley’s eighth president will feature two prominent national figures from the world of higher education. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities and former president of the universities of Michigan and Iowa, will keynote the installation ceremony. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, will keynote an academic symposium that is part of the week-long inauguration celebration.

“Mary Sue Coleman and Jeffrey Pfeffer have both been powerful mentors to me and believe, as I do, in the transformative power of education and positive leadership,” said President Davis-Blake. “It’s an honor to welcome these national leaders in higher education to Bentley University.”

Coleman will give the keynote address during the installation ceremony on October 19, 2018. As president of the Association of American Universities, she leads an organization of top research universities in the U.S. and Canada devoted to maintaining strong academic research and education. A former president of the universities of Michigan and Iowa, she was named by Time magazine as one of the nation’s 10 best college presidents.

“Mary Sue Coleman’s position as the successful president of two major U.S. universities and now as the leader of an organization focused on promoting education, research and discovery across the U.S. and Canada gives her a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing higher education today,” said President Davis-Blake, who served as dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan while Coleman was the university’s president. “We look forward to her sharing those insights with the Bentley community.”

Pfeffer will keynote an academic symposium that caps off a week of campus activities leading up to the inauguration. He is a nationally-known organizational management expert and author whose latest book, Dying For a Paycheck, outlines how the current workplace can harm both employee health and overall company performance. The symposium will focus on The Future of Work, with two panel discussions on Human Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence and Technology. Pfeffer served as President Davis-Blake’s Ph.D. advisor at Stanford.

“Jeffrey Pfeffer is one of the country’s leading business theorists and we’re excited to welcome him to join our faculty here at Bentley to debate this timely topic on the future of the U.S. workplace,” said Provost Lynne Rosansky. “I expect his presentation will ask all of us to think carefully about work-life balance and challenge how we evaluate successful organizations.”   

The entire Bentley community will be included in the inauguration celebrations, with various events designed for faculty, staff and students in the week leading up to the installation ceremony for President Davis-Blake. For more information, visit the Inauguration Schedule of Events.

About Mary Sue Coleman

Mary Sue Coleman became president of the Association of American Universities in 2016. Prior to joining the AAU, Dr. Coleman was president of the University of Michigan from 2002 to 2014 (where she is now president and professor emerita) and president of the University of Iowa from 1995 to 2002. Long involved with the AAU, Coleman served as chair in 2011-2012.

Dr. Coleman has during her career as a faculty member and administrator been a national leader in higher education. The American Council on Education honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Coleman oversaw the groundbreaking partnership with Google to digitize the University’s 7 million volume library, launched enduring institutional partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, and India, revitalized student living and learning experiences through a residential life initiative, and worked tirelessly to promote economic revitalization and innovation within the state of Michigan.

In recognition of these efforts, Dr. Coleman was named by President Obama in 2010 to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke named her as co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she has promoted the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom and within the academic community, and she has worked in numerous venues to improve access to higher education for all.

About Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of 15 books including:

  • Leadership B.S.: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time;

  • The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First;

  • Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t;

  • The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action;

  • Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management;

  • And more than 150 articles and book chapters.

Dr. Pfeffer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Pfeffer has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and for the past 12 years a visitor at IESE in Barcelona.

His current research focuses on the relationship between time and money, power and leadership in organizations, economics language and assumptions and their effects on management practice, how social science theories become self-fulfilling, barriers to turning knowledge into action and how to overcome them, and evidence-based management.

About Bentley University

Bentley University is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader with the technical skills, global perspective and ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Bentley’s diverse arts and sciences program combined with an advanced business curriculum prepares graduates to make an impact in their chosen fields. The university enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. For more information, visit