Scheller College of Business Remembers Professor Sandra Slaughter

Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Professor Sandra Slaughter, world-renowned for her contributions to information technology research, died unexpectedly on Nov. 3.

In remembrance of Slaughter, Scheller College will hold a memorial service from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18, in Room 100, followed by a reception.

Slaughter, who joined the faculty of Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business in 2007, held the Alton M. Costley Chair and was a professor of information technology management.

In addition to groundbreaking research and outstanding teaching, Slaughter is remembered by colleagues and students for her generosity with her time, talent and resources.

Professor Steve Salbu, who helped recruit Slaughter to Georgia Tech during his tenure as dean, says: “Sandy was a star in her field and an inspiration to all in her dedication to service and in her great generosity to her colleagues. She was loved by all at Scheller for her excellence and for her kindness. Sandy set the standard for collegiality and friendship toward which we all strive.”

Slaughter came to Georgia Tech from Carnegie Mellon University, where she held the Xerox Research Chair. During her years at Georgia Tech, she provided leadership in the development of the new interdisciplinary one-year Master of Science in Analytics degree (serving as co-director) as well as Scheller’s Business Analytics Center.

Dean Maryam Alavi says that Slaughter “played an instrumental role in raising the profile of Scheller College’s Information Technology Management faculty group as well as our entire College of Business.”

Slaughter, who was due to receive the prestigious Information Systems Society Distinguished Fellow Award from INFORMS this fall, published more than 100 articles in leading research journals, conference proceedings, and edited books. This year marks the publishing of her new book on the software industry, A Profile of the Software Industry: Emergence, Ascendance, Risks and Rewards.

During her career, her work received nine best paper awards at major conferences and has been supported by more than $2 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and other organizations.

Chris Forman, professor of information technology management, emphasizes the importance of her academic contributions. “She was a leader in research fields such as software development, information systems outsourcing, and the human capital of IT professionals,” he explains. “Any PhD course covering these topics would have a paper from Sandy in the syllabus.”

“But this is only the tip of what made Sandy such a special person and influential voice in the community,” Forman adds. “She was an outstanding teacher and advisor to PhD students—her students are at institutions across the country and around the world. She always found time to help others to learn at all levels—from undergraduate students, to master’s students, to PhD students, to faculty.”

Voted the Georgia Power Professor of Excellence at Georgia Tech in 2013, Slaughter was known for freeing up dollars from her endowed chair to bring educational opportunities to Scheller, provide internships to MBA students, and help PhD students attend important conferences to advance their careers.

Scheller PhD Student Michael Frutiger, who worked closely with Slaughter on a military-related project, remembers: “She tried to help all the PhD students with as much funding assistance as she could, and she looked for opportunities to do so in a way that was equitable. Sandy took an interest in people's challenges and would try to brain storm ways to help. She would ask good questions and was always full of ideas….

“No matter how much she had going on, she would always find time for me and I knew that she was always there to talk if I needed it,” Frutiger adds. “No matter how busy she was, she would still volunteer to help me with things, like offering to read over something I'd written or research something online. She was never too busy to help me. And I always felt she would have done so much more than I would ask.”

Tianshi Wu of Harbin Institute of Technology was advised by Slaughter during his PhD studies at Tech. He says she is the “perfect role model” to follow now that he is supervising PhD students. “She opened doors of scientific research to me, and every time I met with her, I could learn something new about how to conduct research and how to balance work and life.”

Slaughter is survived by her husband, Ron. Together they once held a Guinness World Record for the longest tandem bike ride, during which they toured many countries.

Prior to her academic career, Slaughter spent 10 years working as an IT analyst and project leader in companies including Hewlett-Packard, the Allen-Bradley division of Rockwell International, and Square D Corporation. She earned her PhD at the University of Minnesota.

Her numerous academic contributions included service as senior editor for Information Systems Research and Production and Operations Management; co-editor for the Information Systems Department ofManagement Science; associate editor of Information Systems Research,Organization ScienceMIS Quarterly, the Journal of the Association of Management Systems, and Journal of Database Management; and on the editorial boards for the Journal of Management Information Systemsand Academy of Management Discoveries.

“Sandy was a great faculty member who excelled in all aspects of academia: research productivity, awards, grants, high quality teaching, etc.,” says Eric Overby, associate professor of information technology management. “But what distinguished Sandy – and why this is a such a terrible loss for so many – is that she was more than a great faculty member; she was a great colleague.”

He adds: “Throughout her career, she devoted herself to others. She served tirelessly on numerous editorial boards, helping the rest of us improve and publish our research. She served on discipline-wide initiatives, helping to create structures that enable all of us to be more successful….

“Personally, she advised me, supported me, collaborated with me, and encouraged me. She did these things because she wanted to help, not to ‘add lines’ to her CV. Sandy created a great example to which we should all aspire, even though we will likely fall short. It is hard to imagine a greater loss for the Scheller College of Business, for Georgia Tech, and for the Information Systems academic community.”

Per Slaughter’s wishes, the Sandra Ann and Ronald Gray Slaughter PhD Scholarship will be established at Scheller College.

In lieu of flowers, Slaughter’s family is requesting that donations be made in her honor to the Atlanta Humane Society (Howell Mill Campus), 981 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30308.

Those wishing to share memories of Slaughter can post them to her Tribute site.

 

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