Fran Tucker Seeks to Teach Students that Learning is an Iterative Process, not a Memorize and Repeat Game

Fran Tucker, associate professor of marketing and supply chain and co-chair of the Salzberg Memorial Program at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, spent her childhood moving every three years with father’s job at General Electric.

“Pittsfield, Cleveland, back to Pittsfield, Cincinnati, Pittsfield, Cleveland then Syracuse, as long as my bike was the last thing on the moving truck and the first thing off, I didn’t mind,” reminisced Tucker with a smile.

Tucker completed her undergraduate and graduate education on the move as well, earning her bachelor’s from Wellesley College and her MBA from Boston University. Upon finishing her MBA, Tucker was unsure of the career path she wanted to pursue until one of her master’s professors encouraged her to go on and get her Ph.D.

“At the time, women went into nursing or teaching,” explained Tucker. “I knew I didn’t want to teach kindergarten or deal with high schoolers. It never occurred to me that I could teach more mature students.”

After finishing her Ph.D. in logistics with a minor in marketing at Ohio State University in 1979, Tucker came to teach at the Whitman School – finally settling down after years of moving. She’s been teaching at Whitman ever since.

In her almost 40 years of teaching at the Whitman School, Tucker has found many aspects of the job to be rewarding – from advising students and alumni to meeting alums after years or decades returning to campus. Tucker finds one particular moment in teaching, however, to be the most rewarding.

“When I see people realize that learning is an iterative process: something clicks,;it’s not a memorize and forget game, it’s a learning game,” described Tucker.

A member since her Ph.D. days, Tucker is affiliated with the Council of Supply Chain Management. Through the support of the H.H. Franklin Center, Tucker has been able to take students to major conferences in New York City and introduce students to a powerful network that they can leverage as they enter the workforce. Tucker also sits on the board of AWESOME, an organization of women in supply chain management that connects female students with senior-level women in the industry to advance women’s supply chain leadership.

Although Tucker now primarily teaches marketing courses, she sees marketing channels and supply chains as overlapping. And she views logistics services as a value added service that marketers can use to “wow” their customers.

Much of her own research has focused on supply chain and logistics organizations.

“The research I’ve done takes a look at how logistics organizations provide value in new product development, and also how they could successfully make the case that they are really a profit center, not a cost center,” detailed Tucker. “Often new product failures were caused by not using the actual, as opposed to forecast failure rates of parts. Logistics had the data, but not a seat at the table when using these parts in a new product.  Also, transportation, purchasing, repair, warehousing were each in their own silos. Thankfully that isn’t happening anymore.”

A current project Tucker is working on is the recovery, documentation and consolidation of the Franklin and Salzberg program archives. Currently scattered in different locations, Tucker would like to organize, label and permanently relocate the files to Syracuse University’s main archives.

Tucker and her husband reside in Syracuse, New York and have two daughters and three grandsons, with one more on the way. When she has the time, Tucker loves to travel “anywhere that takes a passport.” Eastern Europe is her next destination.


Bill Conallen