Friday Lecture Explores Lessons in Leadership from Frankenstein


What can 21st-century managers learn about leadership from a 19th-century mad scientist?

Indiana University Chancellor’s Professor Dr. Richard Gunderman will explore leadership lessons from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” as part of the Kelley School’s Business of Medicine MBA Friday Lecture Series this Friday, Jan. 23. Gunderman will present “Frankenstein’s Leadership Monster” beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Hine Hall Auditorium (850 W. Michigan St.) on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“What do we mean by leadership?” said Gunderman, who has published eight books, including “Leadership in Healthcare.” “That’s a question we’ll probably never bring to complete closure. Nor should we. Because it’s a question that each generation of future leaders needs to wrestle with for themselves.”

Gunderman uses Shelley’s 1818 classic to create an evocative discussion that examines leadership as an “imaginative phenomenon.” Gunderman views “Frankenstein” as a cautionary tale of a man who is excessively enamored with science as the path to salvation. And that obsession ultimately leads to his downfall.

“Frankenstein” has captured the public’s imagination for nearly 200 years. Shelley’s novel has been the inspiration for dozens of films and stage productions. Gunderman taps into this fascination and weaves a tale of “leadership gone bad,” a premise that we neglect at our own peril, he says.

Gunderman examines Victor Frankenstein’s poor leadership qualities and their impact on the monster he created. Through careful analysis, he illustrates how the misguided actions of today’s leaders can have a direct impact on their subordinates.

The Business of Medicine MBA Friday Lecture Series is a once-monthly continuing education event held in conjunction with the program’s on-campus residency sessions for physicians enrolled in the two-year program. While the mission of the series is to provide those students with additional viewpoints or insight into the challenges faced by health care providers, some presentations, like Gunderman’s, reach beyond the narrow scope of the health care community.

“We are excited to have Dr. Gunderman share this unique view of leadership,” said Susannah Gawor, director of the Business of Medicine MBA program. “With the multitude of changes that are happening in the health care industry, strong leadership is an important topic and a main feature of our curriculum. Every organization, regardless of the industry, needs good leaders.”

Though the event is free, seating is limited. Interested individuals are asked to RSVP to

About Dr. Richard Gunderman

Richard Gunderman is Chancellor’s Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, Philanthropy and Medical Humanities and Health Studies at Indiana University. He received his A.B. summa cum laude from Wabash College, his M.D. and Ph.D. (Committee on Social Thought) with honors from the University of Chicago, and his MPH from Indiana University. He was a Chancellor Scholar of the Federal Republic of Germany and received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University.

He is a nine-time recipient of the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award; and in 2015, he received the Indiana University School of Medicine's inaugural Inspirational Educator Award. He is also past president of the faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine and a correspondent for the Atlantic.