The H. Naylor Fitzhugh Legacy
Alumni and friends of Harvard Business School established the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professorship of Business Administration to honor Mr. Fitzhugh’s exceptional career as a groundbreaking business leader, pioneer in business education, visionary community leader, and mentor of countless African-American women and men. Naylor Fitzhugh (MBA 1933) was one of the first African American graduates of HBS. Shunned by recruiters despite his excellent academic performance, Fitzhugh returned to his native Washington, DC, where he became a leader and activist in the African-American business community. He was subsequently asked to teach a business course at Howard University, which led to an association spanning three decades and his legendary impact on the school, its business curriculum, and graduates. One of the many students whose business careers he influenced was his former assistant at Howard, Lillian Lincoln Lambert (MBA ’69), who responded to his encouragement by becoming the first African-American woman to graduate from HBS as well as a founding member of the African American Student Union. In 1965, Fitzhugh accepted a marketing position at the Pepsi-Cola Company, which ultimately led to his history-making work in establishing the African American community as a lucrative mass market and creating the concept of target marketing in corporate America. He continued to mentor young people, introducing them to business through the development of education programs. He also maintained ties to HBS, helping to found the Black Alumni Association and becoming its first chairman in 1978. Following his retirement from Pepsi, Fitzhugh remained active with the company and in the community, receiving well-deserved honors and recognition for his numerous achievements, including the Heritage award from the Executive Leadership Council and the Distinguished Service Award from Harvard Business School.He passed away at the age of 82 in 1992. In 1996, the fund-raising campaign, led by Nancy Lane (PMD 29), Dennis F. Hightower (MBA ’74) and Professor James I. Cash, was launched to establish an endowed professorship in Naylor Fitzhugh’s name. In 2000, Professor David A. Thomas, a recognized authority on mentoring, executive development, and the challenges of creating and managing a diverse workforce, was named the first incumbent of the H. Naylor Fitzhugh chair. Also as a result of Professor Cash’s leadership, and with support from students, alumni and Dean John McArthur, a portrait of Naylor Fitzhugh was commissioned and hung in the foyer of Baker Library until its recent renovation. The portrait now hangs in a busy intersection of student life in Aldrich Hall. And in 2001, the leaders of AASU chose to rename the annual AASU Career/Alumni conference to honor Fitzhugh’s inspiring legacy.
Reflections on the Naylor Fitzhugh Chair
David A. Thomas - H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration
“It was an honor to be named H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration because of the interrelated themes that encompassed his life and career. He introduced innovations in business and business education that translated into opportunities and economic benefits for African Americans. He was a counselor and mentor, and an advocate for building constructive relationships across differences of race and community. I’ve tried to pursue parallel themes in my own work, and involved myself in helping organizations better understand and successfully manage diversity.” “My goals as a teacher include helping my students acquire the capacity to learn from their experiences and become reflective practitioners. In teaching LEAD, my colleagues and I guide them toward the development of a rigorous and disciplined way of thinking about human interactions in organizations, about their personal role in those dynamics, and the impact of their choices. We also encourage learning to anticipate and embrace the internal and external changes that affect our lives over time. Understanding yourself and your place in the world makes you a more effective leader, and I believe the process of discovery that leads to such insights can also make you more courageous in acting on your convictions.”
Robert L. Ryan (MBA ‘70) –FormerSenior Vice President and CFO of Medtronic, Inc.
“My wife and I met Naylor Fitzhugh soon after I graduated from HBS. What struck me was that, despite the obstacles that confronted him early in his own career, he maintained a positive outlook, and focused on making things better for those who came after him. He was a remarkable person who left an inspiring legacy of achievement. So when I learned that the School had created a campaign to endow a professorship in his name, I wanted to get involved.” “I explained my high regard for Naylor Fitzhugh to Bill George (MBA ‘66), who as Medtronic’s CEO has been an active champion of our company’s initiatives to foster diversity. With Bill’s encouragement I approached the Medtronic Foundation for support, and they responded with an exceptional leadership gift to match my own contribution.” “There is a tremendous thirst for learning about the most effective ways to motivate and develop people. Differences between people are often not as vast as we first imagine, and I believe our companies, our country, and the world are strengthened through efforts to produce business leaders across every spectrum.”
Scott Royster (MBA ‘92) - FormerExecutiveVice President and CFO of Radio One
“I feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to HBS, and believe it’s important to provide financial support to an institution that has played such an important role in my life and professional success. I also feel a tremendous responsibility to support initiatives that focus on increased participation by minorities in academic and business settings.” “The creation of an endowed professorship to honor the legacy of Naylor Fitzhugh resonated with me on a personal and professional level. It’s essential that young people respect our history and recognize the first movers who overcame challenges and made it possible for people like me to attain success. I wanted to play a leadership role in giving back. I believe things are changing every day and every year. It was an easy decision for me to support this campaign and the School, and I encouraged others to do the same.”