B-School Deans Worth Following On Twitter

by John A. Byrne on

The most prominent B-school deans on Twitter? There are at least seven worth following and they are from many of the best schools in the world, including Harvard and Stanford, Berkeley and UCLA, IE Business School in Madrid, as well as University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina.

Why would a dean tweet? “The most important reason is to stay in touch with both our students and alumni,” says Jim Dean who heads up the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC. “We have 1700 students and 30,000 alumni. It’s very challenging to stay in touch with them. It gives me a chance to do that with relatively low investment of time to communicate. And there’s a signal there that we’re trying to stay on top of change.”

So here are the B-school deans worth following, along with their stats (as of Jan. 24), presented in order of the number of tweets they’ve tapped out to the world, from the most prolific to the least.

Darden School Dean Robert Bruner on TwitterRobert Bruner
Dean
University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

Handle: Bob_Bruner
Total Tweets: 924
Followers: 992
Follows: 54

Started Tweeting: Dec. 2, 2008

In both his tweets and blog posts, Darden Dean Bob Bruner comes across as the quintessential Renaissance Man. Bruner tweets daily, often several times a day, and his messages also show up on his Facebook page. Since becoming the first dean of a major U.S. business school to go on Twitter in December of 2008, Bruner has tapped out more than 925 tweets, sharing inspirational quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Vince Lombardi, offering up Haiku-like movie reviews (Country Strong is “a sobering commentary on love and ambition”), and providing links to what he is reading (one recent link was to “bloviated business language–a lesson for our MBAs on how not to write.”) With his nearly 1,000 tweets, Bruner has hit the “tweet” button more than any other dean in the world. He’s prolific, reliable, and thoughtful. But as interesting as his tweets are, his blog posts over the past four years or so are exceptional–and he has a lot to say about business school education (see excerpts of our favorite blog posts by Dean Bruner here).

And what does his wife think? “She is bemused and indeed follows my tweeting and blogging,” he says. “But how can I say this delicately? She keeps up with me, but she’s not technology forward.”

Stanford Business School Dean Garth Saloner on TwitterGarth Saloner
Dean
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Handle: saloner
Total Tweets: 729
Followers: 2,077
Follows: 78

Started Tweeting: June 13, 2009

It would make sense that the dean of a business school sitting in the middle of Silicon Valley would have the largest number of Twitter followers. Stanford Dean Garth Saloner has more followers on Twitter–some 2,077 people–than any other business school dean. His first tweet, on June 13th of 2009, was sent the day the school graduated the Class of 2009, the first to go through Stanford’s revised curriculum. Saloner’s tweets are thoughtful, entertaining, and often personal, including Twitpics of himself with students at gatherings. And you can pretty much track where he is and what he’s doing by reading his feed: You’d find out that yesterday (Jan. 24)  Stanford Dean Garth Saloner walked into an economics class with Nike founder Phil Knight and that he had a “warm, engaging dinner” with second-year MBAs last night. The discussion ranged from how to make the business school’s newly opened campus alive at night to Burning Man, the annual gathering devoted to “radical self-expression and self-reliance in Nevada. “Yes, it’s the GSB!,” tweeted Saloner. And then there is the occasional poignant tweet. One day last year he dashed this one off: “Right now John Glynn is teaching his last regular vc class at the GSB. 20 years, over 1000 students, more than 30 cases! We’ll miss him!”

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