In recent years, UCR School of Business Professor of Organizations and Management Emerita Kathleen Montgomery has been immersed in humanitarian work with the United Nations.
“At the UN, I have met many amazing delegates who share my values and commitment to human rights,” says Montgomery, who retired from UCR in 2010 and has continued to educate, research, and serve the community.
In collaboration with other delegates, Montgomery formed the Human Rights Special Interest Group (HRSIG), which includes issuing publications related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Human Rights conventions, and the Human Right to Vote, along with making presentations to community groups across the country on these topics.
“My retirement years have been enriched by growing opportunities to serve my community, especially through my involvement in the nonpartisan League of Women Voters,” says Montgomery of another of the significant endeavors in which she’s currently involved.
Montgomery’s impactful work in the last 12 years has earned recognition from the UCR Emeriti Association, which has presented her with the Distinguished Emerita award.
This designation recognizes the continued scholarly activities in research, service, and teaching of emeritus faculty, and the association underscored Montgomery’s work as a scholar and activist, particularly in the fields of health care and human rights.
With the League of Women Voters (LWV), she has developed and regularly delivers a presentation about combatting disinformation, and she represents the LWV of the United States at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and serves as the director of international relations for the LWV Orange Coast.
“Kathleen speaks to community groups from coast to coast about these topics,” wrote Jill M. Follows, a fellow cofounder of the HRSIG, in her letter of support for Montgomery’s nomination for the Distinguished Emerita award. “She receives accolades for her researched, nuanced, and entertaining presentations.”
Leader in Academia and Research
“I always wanted to have a career in higher education. I found sociology to be especially fascinating, mainly because you can apply sociological theories to the study of so many areas,” says Montgomery. “So, my foundational discipline is sociology with emphasis in organizational theory.”
She earned both her Ph.D. and master’s in sociology at New York University and a bachelor’s in communication and sociology at American University. “With sociology as a theoretical background, I found the application of this discipline especially intriguing in the field of health-care management and health-care professions. In particular, I’ve been drawn to the study of challenges facing large-scale health-care organizations that are highly bureaucratic but heavily relying on medical professionals who don’t fit neatly into a bureaucratic structure, with their own expectations about how to organize their work,” she says.
“I’ve approached these questions from a variety of angles, more recently looking deeper into how autonomous professionals—like physicians—are regulated through norms and trust relations.”
In 2014, she held the title of Edward A. Dickson Emerita Professor, and she was appointed professor for the graduate division in 2011. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, one of the preeminent honors within her discipline. She is also an honorary associate at the University of Sydney’s research center, Sydney Health Ethics, where she and her colleagues explore a variety of ethical issues that arise in the delivery of health care, such as informed consent.
“In recent years, my work has increasingly focused on social responsibility, professional regulation, and trust,” she says. Her research has evolved, she adds, “to more refined questions about how professional organizations can operate effectively in uncertain environments full of ethical conundrums.”
Widely published and well-recognized for her research throughout her career, Montgomery’s recent work includes “Conceptualizing Fraudulent Studies as Viruses: New Models for Handling Retractions” in the journal Minerva (2017), which “introduces new ways of dealing with the scourge of papers that contain falsified or manipulated data, such as the case of the study linking vaccines with autism, which remains in the literature—and influencing health-care decisions—long after having been debunked,” she says.
This year, she published a paper in a special issue of Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, which explored the relationship between corruption, trust, and professional regulation, and she is the co-editor of several volumes, including the Oxford Handbook of Health Care Management (2016), where she served as one of three international co-editors.
Another colleague, Roman Kislov, of the Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. and the secretary for the Society of Studies in Organizing Healthcare (SHOC), also readily endorsed Montgomery for the Distinguished Emerita award: “Kathleen’s ongoing contributions to our international academic community and broader society have been truly outstanding, particularly in relation to nurturing junior and midcareer colleagues, helping to advance our
discipline through editorial work of highest quality, and addressing some of the pressing global challenges through engaged activist scholarship of international significance.”
Serving the Community
In addition to her continued scholarship, research, and speaking engagements, Montgomery mentors doctoral students at professional workshops and is a one-on-one tutor in the adult literacy program at her local library. She also makes presentations to high school students in the Model UN program and other community groups about human rights-related issues.
Montgomery remains active in the University of California Academic Senate; among many previous roles within this body, she currently chairs UCR’s Senate Committee on Rules and Jurisdiction.
“I am humbled when I look back on my career, recognizing that I’ve been able to have a positive impact on the lives of others through my work,” says Montgomery.
“My activities with the League of Women Voters and the Human Rights Special Interest Group have made me acutely aware of the need for young people, and young women in particular—including my six granddaughters—to have role models to help guide them as they make their way in a challenging world.”