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Indiana University Bloomington

Inspired by Peers

Kurt Bretthauer

Professor of Operations and Decision Technologies

“Being in this role has added a broader picture of the whole program.”

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Kurt Bretthauer’s best Kelley moment was also the one he approached the most cautiously.

“I’d been on the doctoral committee for seven years and I knew that the doctoral program needed a new chairperson,” says Bretthauer. “When I learned the dean’s office wanted to talk to me, I knew what it was about—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to have that conversation!”

He needn’t have worried about the extra responsibility. As chair of Kelley’s doctoral programs from 2006-12 and a faculty member since 1999, Bretthauer is constantly inspired by his interactions with doctoral students and professors from departments across the school.

“Previously, I focused on the doctoral program in my own department [Operations and Decision Technologies],” says Bretthauer, who currently teaches doctoral students and online courses for Kelley Direct. “Now I get to see all the creative ideas going on in the different departments and incorporate them throughout the Kelley doctoral program.  Being in this role has added a broader picture of the whole program.”

Bretthauer’s current research combines decision sciences and operations management as they apply to health care settings. “The idea is to serve patients quickly and efficiently, leading to the delivery of the best quality care possible with the resources available,” he says.

During his sabbatical, Bretthauer worked with hospitals in California and South Bend, Indiana. Kelley doctoral students assisted with his research in South Bend, which addressed the issue of government-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, as well as the ongoing nursing shortage problem. Their data informed a decision sciences model with recommendations that allowed nurses to work a greater number of desirable shifts to increase job satisfaction and retention.

The field of decision sciences has evolved since Bretthauer received his PhD in 1990.

“When I first graduated, decision sciences in business schools was a very theoretical field, heavily focused on the mathematics,” says Bretthauer. “Being able to now apply those principles to real problems in the health care industry is very rewarding.”

Bretthauer was named Kimball Faculty Fellow in 2003, and his papers have frequently been awarded or nominated for “best paper” honors. In addition to the many opportunities for research collaborations with colleagues and doctoral students at Kelley, Bretthauer appreciates getting to hang out with a cool group of people outside the office.

“My colleagues are a fun group to be around. We socialize together, go to Lennie’s after work … the whole Kelley School is that way.”

In Brief
I love Bloomington because:
“This is a great place to live. It’s got just about any kind of live music you want. There’s such a variety of bands here.”
Favorite restaurant in town:

Samira

Web site I visit every day:

Secretly Canadian [a Bloomington-based record label]

Book I’m currently reading:

Sherlock Holmes short stories

Published April 15, 2011