Tuesday, October 25, 2016

12:10 AM
Parker is giving back to Simon to show thanks for the support he 
received, and to recognize those who helped shape his career.
A $1.5 million gift commitment from Barnett R. Parker ’72S (MS), ’76S (PhD), will establish the Barnett R. Parker Professorship in Multidisciplinary Studies. Parker says that his gift reflects, among other things, gratitude to the School for the financial and moral support he received as a student, including a pivotal conversation with Professor Marshall Freimer. “It was one of those epiphanies,” Parker says. “One evening, while waiting for class, Marshall and I were talking, and he resolutely proposed that, ‘You need to be in our doctoral program.’ That single suggestion changed the course of my professional life ... in retrospect, it was my ‘tipping point.’”

Parker’s dissertation was the first multidisciplinary study of its kind in that it academically linked the Graduate School of Management (GSM at the time) and Strong Memorial Hospital. In particular, it examined the structure of consumer preferences in seeking primary health care, and was based on a pioneering 1950s study of health care behavior in rural populations entitled The Health of Regionville, which was actually Dansville, New York. The dissertation committee members included GSM professors V. ‘Seenu’ Srinivasan and William Gavett, Dr. Andrew Sorenson from Strong, with ongoing support from Freimer. Parker spent countless hours in Dansville interviewing residents about their health care preferences and related thinking. The data were collected and analyzed using a then-emerging consumer preference model developed by Srinivasan.

“This was the first time any sort of management or business model had been used in the health care system,” Parker says. “The dissertation won first prize that year in the American Marketing Association’s national competition, and was recognized as the first inter-disciplinary work that connected health and business,” he notes.

Parker went on to teach for 20 years at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill School of Public Health, and another 18 years at nearby Pfeiffer University, where he taught marketing and strategy to executives at state and private medical centers. He also served 23 years as editor in chief of Elsevier’s Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, one of the earliest scholarly, inter-disciplinary journals. Currently, Parker leads global seminars in emerging market countries on strategies for publishing in English language journals.

Parker is establishing the professorship in honor of those who created the environment at the University of Rochester that made his work possible: Freimer, Gavett, Sorenson, and Srinivasan. “I would like this professorship to be filled by people who have a passion for creating value in new and unusual ways,” he says.

“I would like to thank Barnett for this generous and impactful gift,” says Dean Ainslie. “This will allow us to recruit a faculty member from any area of study who is focused on adding value to underserved or marginalized populations.”

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