Brief Case

Sal Divita: GWSB Professor Remembered

Sal Divita

The GWSB family was deeply saddened by the July 15 death of Sal Divita, professor emeritus. Divita, who taught marketing at the School of Business over the course of four decades, was extraordinarily popular with both colleagues and students. Many of his students kept in close contact with the professor for years—and even decades—after graduation.

"He was almost an institution himself within GWSB, having served here for about four decades," said Pradeep Rau, professor of marketing and international affairs. "During that time he had many roles, including as department chairperson multiple times and as acting dean on one occasion. He was also the School marshal who officiated at dozens of graduation ceremonies over the years in his familiar Harvard crimson robe.

"Above all, Sal felt a deep attachment to the School and wanted to do the right thing at all times," Rau added. "He will be greatly missed."

A graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, Divita earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from New York University, an MBA from Ohio State University (pursuing the degree while on active duty with the United States Air Force) and a DBA from Harvard School of Business. He was a full-time consultant at IBM for 10 years before teaching part-time at American University and GW.

He became a full-time member of the GWSB faculty in 1972. Divita retired from the School of Business in 2008.

Divita and his wife, Frances, were married for 58 years and had four children, 10 grandchildren, five step-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren.

An active member of the American Marketing Association, Divita wrote a regular column for the association magazine and appeared as a guest speaker at chapters across the country. A 2008 cover story in GWbusiness magazine described him as "an influential university professor and one of Corporate America's most in-demand speakers and consultants."

The magazine article detailed Divita's pioneering research on effective marketing tactics and strategies that took into consideration an understanding of human behaviors and personality types. His work proved, in short, that marketing is a "people business."

As the article noted: " 'Educator' or 'marketing expert' just won't do— Sal Divita was a great success in the people business."

GWSB Climbs in the Rankings

GWSB has one of the top MBA programs in the nation, according to recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report. GWSB's full-time MBA program took the No. 52 spot in the 2012 "America's Best Graduate Schools" list, up from No. 55 last year. The School's part-time MBA program was ranked 36th. The Undergraduate International Business program, meanwhile, rose two spots to No. 5.

The School also saw a jump in the specialty rankings by Bloomberg Businessweek, which concluded that GWSB's international business curriculum for undergraduates was eighth in the country. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the undergraduate program as 21st for corporate strategy.

"This latest ranking reflects our efforts to educate students who truly understand what it means to lead in the global economy," said Doug Guthrie, dean of GWSB and professor of management and international business.

U.S. News & World Report surveyed 437 accredited business schools to come up with its list of the top schools in the nation. The rankings reflect a number of factors, including a quality assessment score, a peer assessment score, a recruiter score, employment rates, mean starting salaries and student selectivity. The part-time MBA rankings, meanwhile, are based on a survey of business school deans and MBA program directors at 295 part-time MBA programs.

"These rankings acknowledge our academic vision and our ongoing efforts to strengthen the GW School of Business," said Liesl Riddle, associate dean of MBA programs.

As part of Bloomberg Businessweek's annual ranking of the top undergraduate business programs, students assigned letter grades to 14 specialty areas within their program. Based on those grades, scores were calculated for schools in each specialty area.

"Our undergraduate program is consistently recognized for its high academic standards and the global perspective our students gain while at GW," said Lawrence Singleton, GWSB associate dean for undergraduate programs.

GWSB Study: FHA Needs to Reduce Loan Limits

A report co-authored by Robert Van Order, Oliver T. Carr Professor of Real Estate, and Anthony Yezer, professor of economics, found that current loan limits at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) dramatically exceed levels needed to serve the agency's target market of first-time and low-to-moderate income borrowers. The paper recommended that the FHA reduce its loan limits to levels even lower than the ones proposed by the Obama Administration.

The study, "FHA Assessment Report: The Role and Reform of the Federal Housing Administration in a Recovering U.S. Housing Market," concluded that the FHA could serve 95 percent of its target market even if the maximum FHA loan limits were reduced by nearly 50 percent.

"FHA's expansion played a major role in keeping the housing market afloat during the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009," said Van Order. "However, we now are left with large loan limits that were set when home prices were at the top of the bubble. They don't reflect current markets conditions and are unlikely to assist the FHA in reaching its historical constituencies—first-time, minority and low-income homebuyers."

Van Order said a reduction in loan limits would also shrink FHA's large market share to a size that the agency could properly manage.

In 2006, the FHA insured loans of up to $362,790 in higher-cost markets. In response to the housing crisis, the limit was increased to $729,750. The administration has proposed allowing current law to lapse in October 2011, which would lower the limit to $629,500. But Van Order's report concludes that loan limits of $350,000 in high-cost markets and $200,000 in the lowest-cost markets would be sufficient for the FHA to satisfy more than 95 percent of its constituency.

The report, released by GWSB's Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, is the second in an ongoing series of policy recommendation papers addressing the role of the FHA. Genworth Financial, which supports the center, contributed data tabulation for the report.