Carlson Names Veteran Professor New Dean


Last year, Carlson suffered a fairly significant fall in the PoetsandQuants ranking of the country’s best MBA programs. The school fell 10 places to 34th from 25th in 2010. Dean transitions can often be tough on schools because the programs tend to momentarily lose focus on some metrics measured by the organizations that rank business schools. At least, that seems to be the story at Carlson.

The school lost ground in three major MBA rankings last year. Carlson, which had been ranked 75th globally by The Financial Times in 2010, fell off the FT’s list of the best MBA programs in 2011. It also fell behind in the latest rankings by Forbes and The Economist, in both cases dropping two places to a rank of 28 and a rank of 65, respectively. U.S. News managed to be a bit kinder to the school, giving it a three-place boost to rank 21st in 2011, up from 24th in 2010.

The school faces an interesting test this year when BusinessWeek surveys its latest crop of graduates along with the companies that recruit at Carlson. When BW last did this in 2010, the school earned a respectable ranking of 28th, up from a blanket second-tier listing in 2008. In its graduate opinion survey, BW picked up some critical noise, largely from international students who were less than satisfied with the career services office.

As one graduate explained: “From the perspective of an international student expecting to have career opportunities with important companies in the Twin Cities Area, it becomes frustrating that most of the companies have strict sponsorship policies. This is the case for Target, 3M, General Mills, now even Medtronic. It wouldn’t be a problem for students like me, willing to eventually return to our countries. However these companies don’t hire F-1 Visa holders even for internships or short-term assignments which is part of the Practical Training block of the MBA.”


Zaheer, however, points out that Carlson was among the four most successful schools in placing its MBA class last year, according to a BusinessWeek survey. Some 97% of the school’s grads had jobs within three months of graduation, a record as good as the business schools at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Columbia. “And this year placement is running way ahead of last year,” she says.

Zaheer’s appointment was announced with the typical statements of endorsement from key university leaders. “In Dr. Zaheer, the Carlson School has a dedicated and visionary leader who shares my belief that the University of Minnesota can and will be an institution that solves the challenges facing our state, the nation and the world,” said President Eric Kaler in a statement.

Zaheer joined the Carlson School in 1991 and most recently held the position of associate dean of faculty and research prior to her appointment to interim dean last June. In addition to her PhD from MIT, she earned a master’s in business from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

The university said the salary of the new dean will be $480,000, of which $270,000 will be paid for with private funds from the Elmer Andersen Chair, which Zaheer will continue to hold, and the Leadership Distinguished Chair, which was created to support the deanship.

Zaheer’s candidacy received strong support from faculty, students, staff, alumni and Minnesota’s business community, the school said. An 18-member search committee was convened September 2011 and worldwide search firm Korn/Ferry was retained to assist in fielding a highly qualified and diverse group of finalists. The four finalists participated in public interviews in January and February 2012.

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