By Edwin B. Smith
University of Mississippi
Nearing 40 years of employment at the University of Mississippi, Scott Vitell – the longest-serving faculty member in the School of Business Administration – is retiring.
Vitell, who came to the university in 1984, has held the Phil B. Hardin Chair of Business Ethics for most of his tenure. The position is one of the earliest endowed chairs.
He also was chair of the Department of Marketing for many years and has a joint appointment with the Department of Pharmacy Administration.
“I accepted a position here because I specialized in marketing and business ethics, and there was an opportunity to work with someone here that had the same interest,” said Vitell, who retires Aug. 16. “Ole Miss has always had a very collegial and friendly environment.
“I was able to find many possible co-authors over the years from not just the marketing department, but from pharmacy and management, among others.”
Reflections from Colleagues and Friends
Barry J. Babin, chair of the Department of Marketing and Morris Lewis Professor of Marketing, has known Vitell more than 30 years. Both men’s dissertation advisers – Shelby Hunt at Texas Tech for Vitell and Bill Darden at LSU for Babin – were good acquaintances, causing the two to also connect from the beginning of Babin’s career.
“We would see each other at conferences periodically and I always enjoyed a chance to chat with him,” Babin said. “Scott is so amicable. Everyone else at the meetings felt the same way.”
Vitell has contributed significantly to the field of marketing ethics, as well as to the broader field of business ethics, Babin said.
“In 1986, he and Shelby co-authored ‘A General Theory of Marketing Ethics’ in The Journal of Macromarketing,” he said. “That article has been cited nearly 3,500 times, which based on a search of GoogleScholar, makes it the most-cited article ever published in that journal.
“In fact, it has more than four times as many cites as the next-most-cited Journal of Macromarketing article and helped make him known as an authority in the ethics field.
“(Vitell) left a legacy of treating authors with courtesy and respect. Clearly, his prominence in the field has put the Ole Miss business school in a very positive light.”
Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, said Vitell is an inspiration to him and all faculty members who aspire to conduct quality research throughout their careers.
“He is intellectually curious and has been engaged in the profession to impact countless colleagues,” Cyree said. “We used to talk football and baseball as well. Scott is a lifelong Cubs fan, so I would commiserate with him, although I am only a casual Cubs fan.
“Scott also did dancing classes, although I was never sure if he was a participant or the instructor, and given my lack of dancing ability, I never attended, but I heard he was quite the dancer.”
Marketing professor Victoria Bush said she has known Vitell as a colleague, mentor, fellow coffee breaker and friend.
“He and I share similar research interests in ethics, and he has been a great sounding board for ideas and collaboration,” she said. “We have worked together on articles and dissertations over the years. As my boss for a good portion of my tenure at Ole Miss, he has always been approachable and offered advice with a fair and steady hand.
“As a fellow coffee breaker, we have politely argued, cried and been elated about the Cubs over the years.”
A Catalog of Accomplishments
Vitell received his doctorate in marketing from Texas Tech University. He is the consumer ethics and social responsibility section editor for The Journal of Business Ethics and serves on the editorial review boards of The Journal of Business Research and The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice.
He has published more than 100 articles, including publications that have appeared in The Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, The Journal of Retailing, The Journal of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, Business Ethics: A European Review, International Business Review and The Journal of Consumer Marketing, among numerous others.
Additionally, Vitell has published and presented at many national and international conferences. As a recognized expert in marketing and business ethics, he has been invited to make presentations at several academic institutions, including St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, Duke University, Notre Dame University, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen, Germany, Hong Kong Baptist University, All Hallows College in Dublin and ESADE University in Barcelona, Spain.
Besides the 15 doctoral dissertations that he has chaired at Ole Miss, Vitell has served on or assisted with doctoral dissertations at the University of Gent, Belgium; the University of Seville, Spain; and the University of Vienna.
He was most recently honored by The Journal of Business Ethics for having three of the top 30, and six of the top 100 most-cited articles – from a total of 5,000 articles – in the journal’s 30-year existence.
“I was most pleased when I received the Best Researcher Award for the business school several times and also the university Burlington Northern Award as Best Teacher, a combination of teaching and research award,” Vitell said. “Because I love to travel, I always was most pleased when asked to attend a conference in places like Hong Kong, France, Belgium and so forth.”
Plans for the Future
Vitell said he plans to keep on dancing after he retires.
“My primary plans are that I will continue to spend time in ballroom dancing, both in performances and also in competitions,” he said. “My wife, Caren, and I have been doing this for about six years now. My dance coach and partner from the Dance Studio in Tupelo is Tammy D. Wilson.”