Katz Professor Receives Provost’s Award for Mentoring Excellence

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dennis Galletta, professor of business administration and director of the doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, was selected as one of four recipients University-wide to receive the 2016 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Dennis Galletta received the Provost's Award for Mentoring Excellence

For more than two decades, Galletta has assisted in the education and professional development of doctoral students in the Katz School.  The Provost’s Office stated that Galletta was chosen for the award because he consistently sets high standards for his students and provides them with the support necessary to develop strong research skills, publish their research in top-tier publications, and gain tenured positions at top research institutions.

“The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business is proud to see Dennis recognized with this significant and well-deserved honor. He takes very seriously our obligation of preparing students for lives of scholarship and thoughtful inquiry. The management profession is stronger thanks to his efforts,” said Arjang A. Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the Katz School and College of Business Administration.

In letters of support sent to the Provost’s Office on Galletta’s behalf, former PhD students credited their former teacher for his patient demeanor, constant encouragement, and friendly disposition. 

“I can truly say that I am a better person and a more solid researcher because of him,” said Pratyush Nidhi Sharma, assistant professor of management information systems at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Andrea Everard (PhD ‘03), professor in the department of accounting and management information systems at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, says Galletta is the “epitome of a lifelong mentor.”

“An expert in laboratory experiments, Dr. Galletta has conveyed the importance of thorough and meticulous research. He has taught me that the outputs of research should be directed at the highest level of journals, that high-quality research is really the only research worth doing,” Everard said. 

David P. Darcy (PhD ‘01), assistant professor at the Florida International University College of Business in Miami, recalls the depth of understanding and tangible enthusiasm that Galletta brought to his PhD seminar course on human-computer interaction.  Later, Galletta served on Darcy’s dissertation committee.

“Professionally, Dennis provided opportunities such as working with federal and state chief information officers as they collectively tackled Year 2000 issues. Further, given his senior role in the leading information systems academic association, he encouraged and enabled my contributions there as well,” Darcy said.

Ting-ting “Rachel” Chung (PhD ‘02), director of business programs at Chatham University, worked with Galletta in her study of knowledge management systems in a large Fortune 150 firm. The project took years to materialize, but Galletta was always patient and supportive.

“In addition to being an incredibly supportive intellectual mentor,” Chung says, “Dr. Galletta has also been very respectful for my own professional goals. In seeking work-life balance, I chose to stay in the Pittsburgh area rather than pursuing top school opportunities worldwide. Dr. Galletta has always respected my personal choices and supported my career pursuits in whatever way he could.” 

The Provost’s Award for Mentoring Excellence is the latest award received by Galletta in his distinguished career. Internationally respected in the field of information systems research, Galletta received the LEO Award for Lifetime Exceptional Achievement in Information Systems from the Association for Information Systems. He accepted the award in December 2015 in front of a large audience of his peers. Read more about his award.

Throughout his career, Galletta has published 48 refereed journal articles and 50 refereed conference papers, mostly with his doctoral students. Of those articles, 16 have been published in the field’s most highly regarded journals, including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Management Science, and Journal of MIS. He is also the author of numerous books and book chapters. 

“Winning this award has helped me realize that the impact of research extends beyond receiving a journal acceptance,” Galletta says.  “It is a process that helps us all hone our skills, and the younger researchers with whom I work can carry on these improvements to future generations of researchers. We all learn together. A journal acceptance is more than just another line in a vita but a suggestion that we might have made a contribution to knowledge as well.”

“It is particularly fulfilling,” Galletta says, “to work with students to target top journals and help guide them through to publication. Often I consider my role as one of gentle ‘steering,’ where students’ ideas can be tweaked to narrow or broaden them, nudge them in a slightly different direction, or add or subtract features that make them candidates for higher-level journal publication. Whenever feasible, it is important to me to keep the core of their ideas intact, or students will lose interest, let quality slip, and feel less fulfilled by their work.”

The publication process is not always successful, and might not always seem fair, but there is quite a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction when submitting a revised paper that survives a round of reviews. A valuable by-product is watching students gain an appreciation of care in planning and executing a study, writing in a logical, organized manner, and being responsive to reviewers yet preserving the integrity of the work. 

I have heard many professors tell prospective doctoral students that being a professor is the “best career in the world.” An award like this provides one of the best moments in that “best career.” Working with students who have graduated has an added bonus: you don’t have to say goodbye to graduating students; you can continue corresponding, work as colleagues for many years, and periodically re-establish your connections at workshops and conferences for many years to come. With apologies to a certain credit card’s advertising agency, I believe teaching students is rewarding, working with students is sublime, but the large, expanding, and lively network of colleagues that can form over a few decades is “priceless.”