By Dorian Martin, Texas A&M University Mays Business School
Leonard L. Berry and Nancy Berry have established the Leonard L. Berry Chair in Services Marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School through a $1 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation.
This endowed faculty chair will enhance Mays’ Department of Marketing’s efforts to attract and retain a leading senior faculty member who can help the school move forward to reach its vision to advance the world’s prosperity by creating a better future though improved service.
Creating the endowed chair is a milestone in Berry’s nearly 40-year tenure at Texas A&M.
“I have loved being a faculty member at Texas A&M. It’s an outstanding university and I’ve had a wonderful career here,” he said. “I was raised to always give back and this is a way that I wanted to give back to my university, to my department, to my colleagues and to tangibly say thank you for the opportunity that I’ve had to build a career here at Mays Business School.”
The Berrys said their decision to create the chair was made during a short conversation that spanned only a few minutes.
“When you live in a place, you want it to be the best place possible. My philosophy is if I want it to be better, I need to work to make it better,” said Nancy Berry, who noted that service is an integral part of the couple’s lives. “Len’s research is focused on what services can do to help humanity and improve the quality of life. That’s what I’ve tried to do, as well.”
The Berrys’ gift is the first Mays endowed chair established by a current Mays faculty member.
“We have many Mays faculty and staff who support our school by gifting some of their treasured resources to us. The Berry gift is unique, though, in that it is the first endowed chair established by a faculty member and in this instance, his spouse,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “Faculty and staff committing their resources in any form, but perhaps especially in the form of an endowed position, demonstrates to all who are committed to Mays’ success that those of us working within Mays Business School are willing to join others to provide gifts that support our work in terms of research, teaching, and service.”
The creation of the endowed chair extends Berry’s marketing legacy.
“This endowed position recognizes and honors the long-term contributions of Berry to the field of services marketing,” said Manjit Yadav, head of Mays’ Department of Marketing. “His groundbreaking work in the area of service quality has impacted scholarship and practice worldwide. As the service-based economy continues to expand in the 21st century, this endowed position will ensure that the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School continues to be an academic leader in the area of services marketing.”
Berry was recruited from the University of Virginia in 1982 to serve as the founding director of Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies. When he joined Mays, services marketing and service quality improvement had yet to develop as areas of research. At that time, marketing faculty did not recognize the different challenges in marketing a tangible product, such as an automobile or a food product, versus an intangible service, such as transportation, healthcare and telecommunications. The fields of services marketing and service quality did not exist.
Berry’s work, along with that of two Mays marketing colleagues, A. Parasuraman and Valarie Zeithaml, in concert with a small group of other researchers around the world, began to change this perspective.
A development leave in 2001-2002 at the prestigious Mayo Clinic proved to be a watershed moment in Berry’s career. Afterward, the respected professor decided to shift his focus to pioneer the study of service quality improvement in healthcare. His healthcare research has been published in numerous prestigious medical journals, including “Mayo Clinic Proceedings,” “Annals of Internal Medicine,” “Journal of Clinical Oncology,” and “Journal of Oncology Practice.” He also serves as a senior fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he studies service improvement in cancer care for patients and their families.
Berry continues to have a very productive research career. He currently is the most-cited Texas A&M University faculty member on Google Scholar, with 231,414 citations as of December 7, 2021. He also has co-authored 10 books, including the best-selling book, “Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic.”
Over the years, both Texas A&M and Mays have recognized Berry for his professional contributions. He holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership and has been named a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, a Regents Professor and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence.
Berry also has received significant external accolades from the American Marketing Association (AMA) and other entities during his career, including being the second individual ever to receive each of the “Big 4 Marketing Awards”: The Sheth Foundation Medal in 2018, the AMA William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award in 2018, the AMA Paul D. Converse Award in 2008, and the AMA/McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award in 2007.
Berry’s work has not only influenced scholars, students and the industry, but also his wife in her current work as a Brazos County Commissioner and member of numerous Brazos Valley nonprofit boards, as well as in her previous role as mayor of the City of College Station.
“I’ve read most of Len’s work and it’s been significant and meaningful,” she said. “His contribution is irrefutable.”
The endowed chair will help Mays continue Berry’s groundbreaking work in the field of services marketing.
“I want there always to be a senior scholar in the marketing department that specializes in services marketing,” Berry said. “In a sense, I am making the gift to help create a succession plan for myself because I won’t be here forever. I want our work and our reputation in services to continue.”
Image credit: Texas A&M University