University Trustee Robert J. Keegan has committed $1.5 million to create the Robert J. Keegan Endowed Professorship in Pricing. The Keegan Professorship was the 100th professorship to be established at the University during The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester.
“I cannot overstate my appreciation for Bob’s continued support of the University of Rochester and the Simon Business School,” said Joel Seligman, University president, CEO, and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor. “Professorships are the cornerstone of all thriving universities. I am delighted that his name will be forever linked to this major milestone in the University’s history.”
At the public launch of The Meliora Challenge in 2011, the University set out to establish a minimum of 80 endowed professorships. The goal was met in May 2014, at which time it was raised to 100.
Andrew Ainslie, dean of Simon Business School, said endowed professorships help recruit and retain the world-class scholars who provide the exceptional business education that has become a Simon hallmark. He added that this particular professorship will contribute to the school’s leadership in pricing research and education.
“We are deeply grateful to Bob for enabling us to recognize a preeminent scholar in the growing field of pricing,” said Ainslie. “This gift underscores Bob’s commitment to Simon and helps us provide students with a premier pricing education.”
Pricing has been an area of interest and study for Keegan since his days at Simon Business School, where he earned an MBA in 1972. For him, the school highlighted how critical pricing decisions are, a lesson that took on even greater value when he served as CEO and chairman of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
“Pricing is a key factor in any business success,” said Keegan, chair of the Strategic and Financial Planning Committee for the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees. “You can have the right product or service, but if you price it wrong, you have a problem.”
Under Keegan’s direction, Goodyear was recognized as the world’s most admired company in the motor vehicle parts industry by Fortune magazine in 2008 and as America’s most respected automotive company by Forbes magazine in 2009. Prior to leading Goodyear, Keegan was a senior executive at Eastman Kodak. He currently is involved in various entrepreneurial activities and serves on a number of corporate and nonprofit boards, including Xerox Corporation and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
Citing his own experience, Keegan points to underdeveloped theory as a significant contributor to the difficulties involved with pricing decisions. “It’s incredibly difficult. There’s a lot of trial and error,” he said. “My hope is that this professorship will serve as a catalyst for Simon to conduct extensive pricing research that leads to more effective and profitable decision making.”
A member of the Simon Advisory Council and a former member of the Simon Executive Advisory Committee, Keegan received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University’s Simon Business School in 2007 and an honorary doctor of laws degree at Simon’s 2010 commencement ceremony. He and his wife, Marilyn Diehl Keegan, are charter members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society.