New Leadership Is ‘UConn Strong’

George Plesko, Lucy Gilson
George Plesko and Lucy Gilson (Melissa Ferrigno/UConn School of Business)

Seasoned Professors Take on New Roles in Accounting, Management

In their new roles as department heads in management and accounting, Professors Lucy Gilson and George Plesko say they plan to build on their departments’ traditions of success while expanding partnerships within and beyond UConn.

“I am honored to take the helm of the management department and humbled by the trust that my colleagues have placed in me,” Gilson said. “This is a fantastic department with some of the most productive scholars at the University and some of the finest teachers. Over 70 percent of our faculty received letters from the Provost praising them on their teaching excellence.”

Plesko also had high praise for the accounting faculty.

“This is a very exciting time for the accounting department,” Plesko said. “Our group has changed dramatically over the 11 years I have been here, and our challenge is to maintain the momentum that Professor Mo Hussein, the previous department head, has established. Our undergraduate and masters programs are nationally recognized for their quality, and we are identified near universally as a key recruiting target by the accounting firms and other employers who, quite literally, compete to hire our students.

“One of our biggest challenges, and opportunities, will be to continue to hire the faculty we need to serve our students while continuing to enhance faculty research,” Plesko said. “We’ve been lucky to hire four new faculty members over the past couple of years, but I expect we will continue to need to hire for a number of years to come.”

Both new department heads are seasoned UConn professors.

Gilson is the faculty director for the Geno Auriemma UConn Leadership Conference, the faculty advisor to the UConn Women’s MBA Association, on the executive board of the OB Division of the Academy of Management, and the senior associate editor of Group and Organization Management.

She has an undergraduate degree from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and both an MBA and Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a visiting scholar at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa (Lisbon). Her research focuses on creativity, virtual teams, and team effectiveness, and her work has been published in many top management and psychology journals. In addition, Gilson has provided consulting expertise to many multinational companies, state and national agencies. She joined the UConn faculty in 2000 and has since then twice been recognized as an Ackerman Scholar, and in 2012, she was honored as the School’s MBA Professor of the Year.

Plesko joined the UConn faculty in 2005, bringing expertise in corporate tax policy. He has been honored at UConn for his research and service, and won an Excellence in Teaching Award at MIT prior to his employment at UConn. His work has appeared in prominent tax journals and he has testified in front of the U.S. Congress on tax issues and as an IRS consultant.

Plesko has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He is the recipient of the national John R. Wildman Medal from the American Accounting Association—Deloitte Foundation for his work with Lillian F. Mills on “Bridging the Reporting Gap: A Proposal for More Informative Reconciling of Book and Tax Income.” While at UConn, he has recruited new faculty and served as the associate dean for graduate and research programs.

The future isn’t without challenges, Plesko said.

“The market for the caliber of faculty we seek to hire–those with an understanding of critical issues, performing research to address them, and who are able to effectively communicate these ideas to the profession and our students–is very competitive. Fortunately, the reputation of UConn, and our department, makes this a bit easier,” he said.

“I also see us becoming more visible nationally, as we build on our existing strengths while we expand or develop others. For example, we have a relatively large group of faculty with research interests in business taxation and tax policy, and there may be opportunities for us to work with other departments or schools around the university to showcase this expertise.”

Gilson also sees new partnerships in the management department’s future.

“We have a wonderful mix of assistant, associate and full professors complemented nicely by some amazing in-residence faculty both here and at our regional campuses,” Gilson said. “While all our faculty members are ‘research active’ and outstanding teachers, we are also involved in an astonishing array of service.” Currently management faculty serve as the academic directors of Innovation Quest, the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the MS program in Human Resource Management, and the Executive MBA Program.

“We are actively involved in partnering with the UConn Law School on a negotiation case competition, working with the National Association of Women MBAs, and partnering with Engineering and the Neag School on a multi-disciplinary minor in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” she said. “My goal is simple–keep up the good work!”

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