Kenan-Flagler Dean To Become UNC Provost

Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean James W. Dean to become university provost

Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean James W. Dean to become university provost

After a five-year stint as the dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, James W. Dean will become the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost starting July 1, the school announced today (May 23).

In his new role, he will serve as the university’s chief academic officer and oversee the professional schools, the College of Arts and Sciences, the University Library, and a number of other academic-related units. Dean succeeds Bruce Carney, who has been provost since 2009 and plans to return to the faculty and his research.

An interim dean will be announced in the near future, along with plans for a search committee to identify a successor.

Dean, a highly accessible and popular on-campus leader, brought the school into the online MBA program space with MBA@UNC two years ago through a partnership with 2U Inc., an educational startup. At the time time, it was a fairly bold and somewhat controversial move. Some students, alumni and faculty worried that the program could harm the school’s elite reputation. But the program has been highly successful, helping to establish the school as an educational innovator. Two years ago, the initial entering class numbered 19 MBA students. The school will welcome its largest MBA@UNC class ever of some 80 students this July. Dean also began the school’s UNC-Tsinghua Dual-Degree EMBA Program in China and a new Health Care Initiative, among others over the years.


He’s also one of the most prolific business school deans on Twitter, having published 2,084 tweets since signing up for the service in July of 2009. To his nearly 3,000 Twitter followers, Dean tweets on an eclectic mix of updates on his schedule and his school but also various oddities that pique his interest. One recent example at the schools graduation:” Ask an entire stadium to stand after your commencement speech & snap a photo? @SteveCase #unc ” I’m the one w/shades.”

In an email sent to the business school community today, Dean described his new opportunity as bittersweet. “After 16 years at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I remain deeply committed to and passionate about our School,” he wrote. “This new opportunity is bittersweet in that my new role will mean that I will work with you less directly and less frequently in the future. Please know that my commitment to you and UNC Kenan-Flagler remains unchanged. As provost, I will remain involved with UNC Kenan-Flagler – including the selection of our next dean.”

Dean joined the school’s business faculty in 1997. He held a variety of positions before being appointed dean in 2008. Dean served in the top academic position, senior associate dean for academic affairs, at UNC Kenan-Flagler from July 1, 2007-July 31, 2008. He served as associate dean of Executive Development from July 1, 2002-June 30, 2007, and associate dean of the MBA Program from 1998-2002.


As associate dean for Executive Development, he increased the number and global reach of UNC’s non-degree programs, which are ranked among the world’s best. During his tenure, revenues for the programs increased by nearly 60 percent. UNC Kenan-Flagler is especially well known for its custom-designed programs for such organizations as ExxonMobil, the United States Navy, Duke Energy, Cisco and Nucor.

As associate dean of the MBA Program, Dr. Dean led an innovative re-design of the curriculum, created corporate advisory boards and developed a strong team of professionals to guide admissions, student services and career services. As a result, the quality of the MBA class, the curriculum and the quality and number of companies recruiting rose significantly.

He has participated in research, teaching and/or consulting projects with many companies, including ALCOA, Boeing, Corning, DuPont, ExxonMobil, GE, Honeywell and the U.S. Navy.


In his email to the school community, Dean also said, “Collaborating with you has been a true privilege, and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together. I especially want to thank you for your partnership in helping me achieve my vision for UNC Kenan-Flagler as a top global business school whose graduates are known for their effective and principled leadership as well as their technical and managerial skills and that produces research with impact, serves as a valued member of the UNC community, and contributes to the welfare of North Carolina and the world beyond its borders.”

University Chancellor-Elect Carol Folt heaped on praise in a statement.  “Jim is an accomplished scholar and outstanding educator,” said  Folt. “He is respected widely for his visionary leadership of Kenan-Flagler Business School and for the innovative and interdisciplinary approaches he takes to ensure excellence in research, education and public service. As the chief academic officer, his deep knowledge of the University’s strengths across schools and commitment to providing an outstanding education for our undergraduate, graduate and professional students will assist me in engaging the entire community in building a bright future.”



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