Wharton’s New Job Hopping Dean

New Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett

New Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett

After only a one-year stint as the dean of the Australian School of Business, Geoffrey Garrett was today (March 19) named dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The selection of Garrett, who succeeds Tom Robertson who has been dean since 2007. concludes a worldwide search headed by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

For Garrett, who assumes the role on July 1, it is something of a return visit. For two brief years, from 1995 to 1997, the political economist was an associate professor at Wharton who taught multinational management before jumping to Yale University as a professor of political science.

An itinerant job hopper and a prolific user of Twitter, Garrett had held a variety of teaching and administrative jobs at 10 different institutions since leaving Oxford University as a fellow in politics in 1988. The Wharton post will be his 11th employer in 27 years and his third deanship of a business school in little more than three years. Garrett had also been dean of the University of Sydney’s business school for a year before taking on his current job at the University of New South Wales’ Australian School of Business.

AUSTRALIAN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS FELL TO A RANK OF 62ND FROM 48TH THIS YEAR

In terms of accomplishment, Garrett has little to show from his last two deanships, primarily before of his surprisingly brief tenure at both institutions. While he served as dean of the Australian School of Business, the school fell to a rank of 62 from 48 in the 2014 global MBA ranking of The Financial Times. It had been ranked 41st in 2012. Though there are three business schools in Australia on The Economist’s latest ranking of the best MBA programs, the Australian School of Business isn’t one of them. The University of Sydney’s business school also failed to make the FT and The Economist lists.

Both ASB and Sydney. moreover, lack the repetitional capital and prestige of a heavyweight player in graduate education as Wharton, with its $400 million annual budget. ASB’s 2013 MBA class profile shows that the average GMAT score of its students is just 630–far below Wharton’s 725. Wharton’s faculty, moreover, is widely considered to be among a handful of the most accomplished professorial talent in the world.

In going outside, the university passed over several highly qualified internal candidates, including Deputy Dean Michael Gibbons, who through a 25-year career at Wharton has worked his way up from a professor of investment banking in 1989 through the chairmanship of Wharton’s powerful finance department in 1994 to his current job as the proverbial right hand to Dean Robertson since 2007.

LOSING OUT TO GARRETT ARE AT LEAST THREE HIGHLY QUALIFIED INTERNAL CANDIDATES

The school also passed on Harbir Singh, a 30-year Wharton veteran and management professor who has served as vice dean for global initiatives since 2008, and Mauro Guillen, who since 2007 has been the director of Wharton’s Lauder Institute, the school’s prestigious program in management and international relations. A master teacher, Guillen joined Wharton in 1996 after a four-year stint at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Several other faculty members also had equally compelling candidacies, if they chose to throw their hats in the ring. Among them were Karl Ulrich, the vice dean for innovation at Wharton who teaches entrepreneurship and e-commerce and joined the school in 1993 as a visiting professor.

In its announcement of Robertson’s successor, the University of Pennsylvania played up the fact that Garrett “oversees a school that is home to 357 faculty and researchers, eight academic departments and nine research centers and enrolls more than 12,000 students. During his tenure, scholarly productivity and external engagement have both grown, reflecting his belief that the best business schools must translate into practice the lessons learned from rigorous methodologically sophisticated research.”

‘IT IS AN INCREDIBLE SURPRISE THAT WHARTON WAS INTERESTED IN INTERVIEWING ME’

Garrett will be taking over the top leadership role at Wharton during a time of intense competitive pressure and change. Within the last year, some critics have suggested that Wharton is no longer one of the powerful triumvirate of business schools with Harvard and Stanford, but instead has joined the next tier of schools with Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia Business School, in the fight for status and prestige.

The job will particularly test Garrett’s leadership skills, given the much higher level of scrutiny Wharton commands by virtue of its world class status, first rate faculty, and highly accomplished alumni. And as is typical with U. S. deanships, he will be expected to raise significant sums from alumni and other benefactors, something Garrett has not done in any major way as dean of the two Australian schools. Rival Harvard Business School is currently in a capital campaign that is expected to raise between $800 million and $1 billion.

In a brief interview today with The Australian, the national newspaper in Australia, Garrett conceded that it “is obviously an incredible surprise that Wharton was interested in interviewing me and even more so that I was offered the position. The reason I was an attractive candidate is that Australian business schools are feeling certain pressures a little sooner here than elsewhere — things such as integrating technology in the classroom.”

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.