Law school bids farewell to Lowenthal

June 8, 2007

The list of things retiring professor Gary Lowenthal will miss about the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is as colorful and substantial as his famed collection of loud ties and patterned socks.

For instance, there's the lively debate and obvious affection among his colleagues, including the craggy-voiced Michael Berch. Download Full Image

“I would hear, right on the other side of my office door, Michael Berch's voice booming – and then I'd realize he was on the other side of the building,” Lowenthal joked during a dinner in his honor, which was attended by 100 family members, friends and former students.

Then there's the college's work environment, where Lowenthal has been warmly assisted by librarians and secretaries for 31 years.

“One of the neat things about walking in this building is coming in the front door and seeing Estela's smile,” he said, referring to receptionist Estela Obregon.

And then there are the students, thousands of them, who have blossomed under Lowenthal's beloved teaching style, the hallmark of which was thoughtful mentorship. He says he'll miss “the classes in which you think you are trying to say something or talk to students, and suddenly, a debate breaks out, and they are talking to each other, and it's the easiest class in the world to teach, because they are teaching themselves.”

Lowenthal presumably has taught his last class at ASU and plans to move with his wife, Susan Cedar, and their 6-year-old daughter, Angela, to Santa Fe , N.M. There, he will begin a new chapter in his life as a full-time writer.

He was lovingly toasted at the annual Law Society dinner during the spring semester, and Patricia White, dean of the College of Law , presented him with a bronzed sculpture of a horse crafted by Arizona artist Cynthia Rigden. The artwork is similar to one received by only one other individual: O'Connor herself.

“We are immensely saddened by your retirement, Gary , but your legacy is a lasting one, and we are all far better for knowing you,” White said.

Professor Jeffrie Murphy opened the program by saying many people don't know about Lowenthal's achievements – as a published scholar, an author, attorney and judge pro-tem – because he's not a “prima donna self-promoter.”

Years ago, when Murphy began teaching criminal law, he asked Lowenthal for help on generating discussion among students and composing their exams. Murphy since has passed along that knowledge to other professors at the College of Law .

“They didn't realize that, when they were talking to me, they were talking to Gary ,” Murphy said. “As long as there is criminal law at the ASU law school, it will be Gary Lowenthal's law.”

Lowenthal studied law at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, as did his longtime friend, Jim Walsh, who spoke at the dinner. Walsh, the attorney general special counsel for southern Arizona , traced Lowenthal's roots as a popular and warm – but competitive – guy from his days at Freeport High School on Long Island , N.Y.

“Gary Lowenthal was listed as ‘Mr. Wonderful' of Freeport High School – and when you are ready for the plaque here, he is certainly ‘Mr. Wonderful' of the ASU College of Law,” Walsh said.

Donna Elm was pregnant twice during her years at the College of Law , including in 1986, when she was Lowenthal's graduate assistant. For part of the time, she was too sick to come to school, but he was sympathetic and trusting.

“He's taught me so much about being a good person, and that has made me a fine lawyer,” said Elm, an assistant federal public defender in Phoenix . “With a whole host of lawyers, he taught us not to think like lawyers, but to think like humans. We have all benefited tremendously from that.”

Lowenthal's colleague Bob Dauber tickled dinner guests with a slide show of mostly old photos of the retiring professor. It ended with a video clip of perhaps the one person who will not miss Lowenthal in his retirement, because she will get more of his time.

“I like when my Daddy plays marbles with me and reads me books and plays cards with me and tells me bedtime stories,” said his daughter, Angela.

2 student teams win marketing awards

June 8, 2007

Two teams representing ASU's School of Global Management and Leadership won “Business Strategy” competition awards in the recent Best Strategy Invitational that featured 176 teams from around the world.

The two-week online competition tested each team's ability to manage an athletic footwear company in head-to-head competition against companies run by their international peers. Download Full Image

Just as in the real world, companies in the competition battled in a global market arena, selling branded and private-label athletic footwear in four geographic areas – North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Africa.

Champions of the 10-team “Industry 8” group representing “Killaz” were seniors Brandon Newcomb, leadership and management; Elizabeth Smith, accounting; Chris Storm, leadership and management; and Abbie Vogel, finance. Winners of the 10-team “Industry 13” representing “Devilsun, Inc.” were seniors Dustin Hendricks, marketing; Felicia Kammer, marketing; Kevin Osbeck, accounting; and Jennifer Ramirez, marketing.

The competition is by invitation only and is based on senior students' semester-long in-class competitions.

“Our strategy in the global competition was to stick to the plan that helped us win earlier in the semester,” said Newcomb, a Killaz team member. “As we plugged along, we watched the other teams begin to flounder. We knew our strategy was solid, and in the end we stepped ahead of the other teams and took the game.

“The competition helped broaden our knowledge about the business world. Not only were we competing against teams from all over the world, but it also gave us the opportunity to experience the challenges executives face when making decisions. The experience will definitely help me in my career.”

The challenge for each company's management team is to craft and execute a competitive strategy that results in respected brand image, keeps their company in contention for global market leadership, and produces good financial performance as measured by earnings per share, return on equity investment, stock price appreciation, and credit rating. All companies begin the competition on the same footing from a global perspective – with equal sales volume, global market share, revenues, profits, costs, product quality and performance, and brand recognition.

“These are very bright students who successfully integrated material they learned in our classes and put that to work in valuable results-oriented decision-making,” said Kathleen Anders, a lecturer in the School of Global Management and Leadership whose topics of instruction include strategy formulation and implementation, benchmarking, competitive strength assessment, and strategy options for competing in international markets.

“The competition teaches students to make decisions based upon a thorough analysis of data as well as to apply what they have learned in our business program. It provides them with experience in decision-making from a total-company perspective and gives them a chance to match their management skills against teams – graduate and undergraduate – from universities around the world.”

The 2007 online edition of “The Business Strategy Game” notes that the competition is designed to provide “useful experience and practice in assessing business risk, analyzing industry and competitive conditions, making decisions from a companywide perspective, thinking strategically about a company's market position and the kinds of actions it will take to improve it, developing strategies and revising them in light of changing conditions, and applying what you have learned in business school.”

Teams from Anders' classes have been invited to compete since the first Best Strategy Invitational was staged in April 2005. The competitions are held in April and December each year. The April competition, which ended May 4, marks the school's first winning efforts.

“The market and competitive dynamics of the simulation function as a ‘live case' where students are active participants throughout the semester,” said Anders. “It is a great way to motivate students and to generate interest in strategy.”