What the school lacks, believes Dutta, is greater recognition for what it has already achieved. “When I look at Johnson I see a school that has been a little bit shy in some respects to get its name out there,” said Dutta in an interview. “My own sense is that one of the challenging aspects will be to mobilize the various stakeholders and really get the school known for its own strengths. We have to work on some of the shyness that has been there for some time. The school is doing excellent work. But it has to be much more vocal about its strengths.”
Dutta said he plans to launch a strategic review of the Johnson School to, among other things, determine how best to leverage Cornell University’s recent winning bid to open a $.5 billion New York City campus with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He did not rule out the possibility that Johnson could grant an MBA degree on the New York City campus. Cornell will begin offering classes next year in leased space before moving onto a campus at Roosevelt Island by 2017.
“The New York City campus is a game changer because it will be a campus of applied technology,” says Dutta. “The business school will be a very strong partner in providing programs in business, entrepreneurship and innovation. My own initial feeling is that it provides a great environment for the full-time MBA students. But my initial sense is that there will be more of a focus on executive education there.”
One area that will immediately get more attention, said Dutta, is the school’s globalization efforts. “Cornell is a school that has made a number of initial initiatives in globalization that I hope to strengthen,” he said. “The globalization element is something I will focus on as part of my deanship. My own technology background is in line with another of the school’s strengths. And the university provides a platform for creating interesting new programs and initiatives with other Cornell schools.”
Dutta succeeds Joseph Thomas, who is stepping down to return to teaching after a five-year term as dean. During his tenure, Thomas launched the school’s long-term strategic plan and led the creation of the Emerging Markets Institute, as well as the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.
Dutta won the job after a long search process. The 12-member search committee, pulled together last June, was comprised of a senior vice provost, six B-school faculty members, the dean of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, two senior alums, a current MBA student, and a senior staff administrator. Among the listed specs for the job is the objective to move Johnson “forward in terms of reputation, quality of the student experience, distinction, and influence.”
Before Cornell offered the job to Dutta, the committee went through three separate stages of selection, narrowing the field of candidates from 20 in early October to seven and then two finalists. Dutta and the other unidentified finalist were then offered to Cornell University President David J. Shorton and Provost Kent Fuchs.
“The discussions went quite well and the end result was that after a few meetings they made an offer a few weeks ago,” says Dutta.
“Professor Dutta’s appointment is a natural fit with Johnson’s increasingly global outlook,” said Cornell President Skorton in a statement. “He has expertise in new and emerging media, he has studied the conditions that promote innovation and he has extensive experience on the international stage. Among other qualities, these prepare him well to oversee the education of our next-generation business leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Dutta, co-editor and author of two academic reports in technology and innovation that are co-published by the World Economic Forum and the World Intellectual Property Organization, is something of a tech maven. In a Harvard Business Review article in 2010 entitled “Marketing Yourself: What’s Your Personal Brand Social Media Strategy?,” he urged business leaders to embrace social media.