Professor William Doherty, who taught in the TFAS Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA) for more than 20 years and helped design its signature course, died suddenly on Dec. 5, 2014.
Doherty teamed with Dr. Michael Collins (and previously also with Jessica Teague, Dr. Anthony Moore and Dr. George Peabody) in teaching the course, “Power and Values in Organizations,” which many IBGA students have called, “the best course I ever took.” The course, which is now being offered through George Mason University as “Ethics and Leadership,” engages students in hands-on learning and group activities to demonstrate how power is defined in the professional world and how individual beliefs apply. Students work on creative team projects to analyze their moral beliefs and how they apply in the workplace.
One of the works that Doherty taught was Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” a well-crafted play portraying a family dealing with hardships and troubles. In a 2009 interview for a TFAS publication, Doherty remarked, “TFAS attracts high quality students. They are mature, reflective and articulate. I would like them to leave having seriously recognized and considered that tensions between individuals and the organization that may employ them are very serious issues to consider as they seek individual happiness.”
Collins praised Doherty as “a moral man who worked throughout his life for truth, honesty and justice—in the university, in government and in business. I looked forward each year to teaching with him, and I always learned something new from him. I admired Bill for his wisdom, his integrity and his skill as a teacher. I loved him for his good spirits and his generous heart.”
Collins added, “Bill was my oldest and closest friend. We went to school together, stayed in touch and later worked together as administrators and teachers at Georgetown University. When we read “Death of a Salesman” together in college, Bill was, even then, engaged by the moral issues the play sets out, and, when he became a teacher, he asked his students to reflect on those issues in the classroom and to remember them when they assumed positions of leadership themselves.”
Doherty began his career at IBM and worked in a broad range of human resource positions both in New York and California. Following his more than 20-year career at IBM, Doherty was associate dean at Georgetown University where he was responsible for professional development programs in executive and leadership development, business administration, human resources and organization development. In recent years he worked at the Government Accountability Office as assistant director in its Strategic Issues Team.
Drawing on his professional experience, Doherty challenged TFAS students to seek out employers whose organizational principles align with their personal principles. He told students that if these principles are aligned, “work can be rewarding in ways that are ultimately more important than financial rewards.”
Doherty received his Bachelor of Science from Fordham University in New York, his master’s degree in liberal studies from Georgetown University and a doctorate in executive leadership (A.B.D.) from The George Washington University.
TFAS President Roger Ream remarked, “Professor Doherty’s legacy includes the lasting influence he had in the TFAS classroom on the lives of hundreds of students he touched each summer. His easy-going manner, his warm disposition and his compassionate personality made him a favorite of students and staff. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Gail and his family.”