Retiring Professor Chitwood Shares Observations from the Back of the Room

Prof. Chitwood poses in suit in formal dining room
October 22, 2018

Stephen R. Chitwood, Ph.D., J.D. has been part of the GW community since he joined the faculty in 1968, fifty years ago! Although he says he stopped teaching in the Law Firm Management (LFM) master’s degree program this summer, and he officially retired from the University many years ago, he is unlikely to fully disappear from the University with such deep ties.

His most recent contributions to the University have focused around the LFM program. Along with a few others he was heavily involved with the design and creation of the program, housed in the College of Professional Studies, and for several years served as the program’s Director. Since that time, he has continued teaching in the program.

“Steve Chitwood has been the heart and soul of our Program since its inception 15 years ago. He has been a counselor to innumerable alums and students, always taking time to share his wisdom with them. We shall miss him greatly,” said Carl A. Leonard, LFM program director and assistant professor in CPS.  

Professor Chitwood brought unique insights to the development of the LFM program, which has been compared to an MBA focused on running law firms. In addition to his law degree, he also has a doctorate in public administration and taught in the GW School of Business. 

He used his experience and education to craft a master’s program designed for students already working full-time in administrative positions in law firms, who were interested in advancing to leadership roles in the management of their firms. The program’s online coursework, with short in-person residencies in Alexandria, Virginia, allows students to continue working throughout the program and immediately apply elements of their curriculum to their work environment.

Prof. Chitwood clearly cares deeply for his students and colleagues. He sent out a message with some of his observations over the years as a parting message.

“From the back of the room, I always observed major changes in students from Day 1 through Day 9 of the initial Residency. From a mindset of “what have I gotten into” students evolved into a mindset of “I can make changes in my firm or organization, and the changes need to be made.” From picturing themselves often as being primarily “non-lawyers,” students and graduates came to see themselves as administrative professionals whose combination of technical skills and newly acquired knowledge of law firm strategy could make them critical contributors to the success of their firm’s legal and financial endeavors,” wrote Prof. Chitwood.

He recognized students and graduates as the most important ingredients of the program and was clearly proud to see their leadership skills growing and later career successes reflecting the self-confidence they had gained during the program.

More information about Professor Chitwood

Prior to his involvement with the Law Firm Management program, his GW roles were extensive. He is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration in GW’s School of Business, as well as the founder and former Director of the University's Center for Law Practice Strategy and Management. 

During his years with the University, Dr. Chitwood also served as Chairman of the Department of Public Administration and as Associate Dean for Doctoral Programs in the School of Business.

In addition to his academic work, Dr. Chitwood has provided strategic management and organization consulting services, management training programs, and office retreat facilitation for litigating divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys offices, State Attorneys General offices, the General Counsels offices of numerous federal government departments and agencies, corporate law departments and private law firms.

Dr. Chitwood received his B.A. cum laude in Political Science from the University of Colorado, his M.P.A. and Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and his Juris Doctor with honors from The George Washington University.