Citing Fatigue, Business School Dean Abruptly Retires

The University this week named Jennifer Conrad, the Dalton McMichael Distinguished Professor of finance, as interim dean for the Kenan-Flagler Business School, following the abrupt resignation of Doug Shackelford ’80 on Sept. 16.

Conrad has been on the faculty since 1985 and served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2011 to 2016, a role in which she helped launch the school’s online master’s of business administration program, known as MBA@UNC, and the online Master of Accounting program. Conrad teaches an elective course on derivatives and is recognized for her research on investments and finance, with a focus on asset pricing, capital markets, institutional investing and portfolio management.

In a Sept. 16 letter addressed to faculty, staff and students, Shackelford said serving as dean of Kenan-Flagler had been the greatest joy of his life; however, he no longer can devote the energy the position deserves.

“I am tired,” Shackelford wrote. “Not the fatigue that recovers with a long weekend or a nice vacation, but one that requires significant time. I’ve spent this week with my family at the beach and that time has confirmed I lack the vigor needed for this position. I have run as hard as I could for as long as I could. I can’t continue at the pace this School deserves.”

Kenan-Flagler is expected to break ground on a $150 million expansion project to meet the needs of its existing students while paving the way for future growth. The project will include building a new facility as well as renovations to the school’s existing home, the McColl Building, which opened in 1997. This fall, Kenan-Flagler began offering courses for a new executive MBA program based in Charlotte, the first expansion outside of Chapel Hill.

“Doug’s tenure at UNC Kenan-Flagler is marked by numerous achievements that leave the school in a position of strength,” UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement announcing Shackelford’s resignation.

Under Shackelford’s leadership, Kenan-Flagler reached record enrollments in its undergraduate business, master of accounting and MBA programs. The school also started an online program for its master’s of accounting and bolstered its MBA@UNC program, leveraging innovative technology to enable students worldwide to earn a Carolina business degree.

As part of its centennial celebration in 2019, Kenan-Flagler created 20 new scholarships and fellowships to continue attracting talented students and to further its commitment to accessibility. The school recently surpassed its $400 million goal in the Campaign for Carolina, which ends Dec. 31, to support research and hire faculty.

Construction is expected to begin soon on Steven D. Bell Hall, a state-of-the-art facility designed for teaching, research and collaboration. Made possible by private gifts along with funding from the N.C. General Assembly, the building will allow the school to expand its undergraduate business enrollment by at least 50 percent to meet the state’s growing needs.

In his letter, Shackelford said this is the appropriate time for him to retire and let his successor build on the prosperity Kenan-Flagler enjoyed on his watch. He also pledged to help support the interim dean in the transition phase.

“I am confident that the chancellor and provost will find the right person to serve as your next dean, and UNC Kenan-Flagler, with its outstanding faculty, staff, students, research and programs, will continue to thrive in the coming years,” he wrote.

In the meantime, Conrad will serve as interim dean. In 2016, she received the Roy W. Holsten Exceptional Service Award, which recognizes leadership and service and is the highest honor bestowed on Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty and staff. Conrad has a doctorate and MBA in finance and economics from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Butler University.

An award-winning researcher and teacher, Shackelford focused his work on taxes and business strategy. His areas of interest included the effects of shareholder taxes on equity prices, taxation of multinationals and disclosure of corporate tax information.

Shackelford joined the Kenan-Flagler faculty more than 30 years ago. He served as associate dean of the Master of Accounting Program from 1998 to 2002 and as senior associate dean for academic affairs from 2003 to 2007. From 2010 until he became dean in 2014, Shackelford served as the first associate dean of MBA@UNC.

Shackelford is the former director of the UNC Tax Center, which he founded in 2001, and he has held visiting faculty positions at Stanford University, Maastricht Universiteit in the Netherlands and Oxford University.

A certified public accountant, Shackelford was a senior tax consultant with Arthur Andersen in Boston and Greensboro from 1981 to1985. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree from UNC.

  — Laurie D. Willis ’86

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