Shannon Anderson
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Professor Shannon Anderson Named Hurlston Presidential Chair

Professor Shannon Anderson of the Graduate School of Management (GSM) has been named the inaugural recipient of the Michael and Joelle Hurlston Presidential Chair, a first-of-its-kind endowed faculty chair position at UC Davis.

Shannon Anderon

Alumni Michael Hurlston 88, MBA 90, M.S. 91, and Joelle Hurlston 89 established the chair with a $1.5 million gift in July 2016.

The Michael and Joelle Hurlston Presidential Chair will rotate between the three colleges and schools from which the donors earned their degrees. In five-year increments, the position will support Professor Anderson at the Graduate School of Management, followed by faculty members in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and then the College of Engineering.

The UC Office of the President provided a $500,000 matching fund through the Endowed Faculty Leadership Initiative, bringing total funding for the Presidential Chair to $2 million. The Endowed Faculty Leadership Initiative is a philanthropic plan created by the University of California, the Office of the Chancellor at UC Davis and the UC Davis Foundation Board to add 25 new endowed professorship or chair positions at UC Davis.

The chair funds may support teaching, research, graduate fellowships and outreach in the chair holder’s department.

Anderson, an internationally renowned scholar in the field of performance management and cost accounting in corporations, joined the Graduate School of Management in 2010 from Rice University.

She said often lost in the discussion of education costs—particularly the need for student scholarships—is a conversation about how important research is to the future of the university as an engine for economic growth.

“When we cut research to save money today, we diminish the footprint of the university for future generations. I am deeply grateful to the Hurlstons for directing their gift in support of faculty research and teaching excellence,” Anderson said.

“I do field-based research in companies that requires me to travel to research sites to interview managers and gather data onsite,” she said. “The Hurlstons’ gift will help me to accelerate research that can be slowed by funding shortfalls and will relieve me of the time to write multiple competitive grant applications in hopes of securing funding for my projects.”

“We are unbelievably excited to have Shannon Anderson as the first recipient of the Hurlston family chair,” said Michael and Joelle Hurlston. “Her incredible track record in research is exactly what we were looking for when we came up with the idea for this chair.”

A UC Davis family

UC Davis has always been part of Michael and Joelle Hurlston’s life together. The couple lived next door to each other as students and quickly hit it off. Now, many of their fondest memories are of co-ed softball games, their first date at Symposium Pizza, and the study sessions where they got to snag extra time together despite finals. 

Michael and Joelle Hurlston

“We both feel very proud about having attended UC Davis, and we really love everything about the university. It’s part of our story as a family, so it made a lot of sense to make this gift part of our legacy,” said Michael Hurlston.

“Joelle and I share UC Davis in common,” said Michael Hurlston, who began serving on the Graduate School of Management Dean’s Advisory Council in 2015 and volunteers with the College of Engineering as well.

Since graduating from UC Davis, Michael Hurlston has had a successful career first as an electrical engineer and then as a business leader. He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Vilynx, an innovative machine learning start-up based in the Silicon Valley.  Prior to that, he spent 16 years at Broadcom, a global leader in semiconductors, in various sales, marketing and General Management roles. In 2015, the Graduate School of Management’s Alumni Association honored Hurlston with its Distinguished Achievement Award, recognizing the impact of his career accomplishments.

Joelle Hurlston works part time as a hazardous materials consultant where her assignments include inspecting new facilities at state-of-the-art Silicon Valley manufacturing companies, among other tasks.

“We’ve obviously done very well from a financial standpoint, and this gift was a thank you to UC Davis for setting us on this track,” said Michael Hurlston. “With that in mind, we wanted to recognize all three colleges that contributed to our careers: the College of Engineering, where I started and also got a masters; the Graduate School of Management, which was really instrumental for me as a leader and marketer; and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, which set Joelle up for the career that she embarked on.”

The Hurlstons said they chose to create an endowed chair because faculty members have the unique ability to influence and inspire a wide range of students, and this type of gift was easier to move from college to college. 

“We each had professors who had an impact on us, such as Richard Dorf in the Graduate School of Management or Sy Schwartz in Environmental Science and Policy, among others, and when we get together with college friends, they share similar stories about their professors,” said Joelle Hurlston. “So the idea of getting top-notch professors to UC Davis resonated with both of us as something we’d like to be a part of, helping to continue to grow the university’s already great academic offerings and reputation.”