Rita Turner Award: Mentoring Students to Effect Measurable Social Change

Faculty member Dr. Howard Schechter reflects on mentoring Dr. David Finch, and his groundbreaking dissertation measuring the value of corporate philanthropy.

Howard SchechterDr. Howard Schechter invests a lot of time and energy into the students he mentors. He also encourages them to address topics in their dissertation research that may appear daunting to others. “I don’t think students should be afraid to jump into ideas that haven’t been explored by others,” he explains. “I think the topics should be important to society at large.”

Walden University’s 2011 Rita Turner Award was presented to Schechter, a faculty member in the School of Management, for his work as the chair of the dissertation committee for Dr. David Finch, a Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Sciences (now Ph.D. in Management) graduate and recipient of the Frank Dilley Award for his dissertation, The Stakeholder Scorecard: Evaluating the Influence of Stakeholder Relationships on Corporate Performance.

A Mentorship from the Beginning

Finch pursued Schechter as his mentor after discovering Dr. Schechter’s background in marketing. “That was a key factor,” Schechter explains. “I had Finch in my Foundations course, which is when the mentorship began.”

Schechter admires Finch for seeking out a topic that would be difficult to quantify. In his dissertation research, Finch studied how to measure charitable corporate investments. He developed a system to provide corporations with measurable economic values to create a compelling argument for increased corporate giving. “I love it when students try out things that people say can’t be done,” Schechter says. “In my own research, I always go for those topics. You go against the tide of opinion. Finch was certainly doing that, and I encouraged him.”

He believes that Finch’s dissertation and continued research will have far-reaching effects. “I think he’s opened up a whole new field of inquiry. Perhaps now corporations will have a more quantitative basis to make judgments about corporate giving,” he says. Schechter also hopes Finch’s research will make it possible to prevent a decline in corporate philanthropy during recessions.

Schechter has worked at Walden since 2001, and has created courses in the management program and teaches the Foundations courses. In addition to acting as a Ph.D. candidate mentor, he is a consultant, speaker, and freelance writer.

About the Award

One of two awards honoring the founders of Walden University, the Rita Turner Award is bestowed annually upon the faculty chair of the dissertation committee of the recipient of the Frank Dilley Award.

This award honors the total commitment to the founding and sustaining of Walden by Rita Turner, co-founder of the university. Mrs. Turner’s shared vision of the university, careful attention to major organizational issues, supervision of complex operational details, and concern for fiscal accountability made it possible not only for the university to flourish during its first two decades, but to grow into a global institution.

Read more about the Rita Turner Award and past recipients.