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Rochester Hires Away A Top UCLA Dean

UCLA's Andrew Ainslie has been named the new dean of the University of Rochester's Simon School

UCLA’s Andrew Ainslie has been named the new dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon School

Andrew Ainslie, senior associate dean of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, better pack away his shorts and sandals and buy a heavy coat and boots.

After an extensive national search, the University of Rochester reached across the country to name him the new dean of the Simon Business School effective July 1.

Andrew Ainslie, the architect of a reengineering of its MBA program, will succeed Dean Mark Zupan who is leaving after a ten-year stint on June 30, the university announced today (May 2).

Ainslie is leaving the Anderson School with something of a victory lap. Last year, the school rose three places in Poets&Quants’ ranking of the best MBA programs, moving to 14th from 17th. During his tenure as associate dean for the full-time MBA program, the school has increased applications by more than 60% and increased job placements more than 20%. In the most recent 2013-2014 admissions cycle, applications to the full-time MBA program are up by 32% while the average GMAT score for the applicant pool rose five points.


Ainslie said he was on holiday in Mexico when he received a phone call from University President Joel Seligman offering him the job. He flew back to Los Angeles to pick up a business suit and then to Rochester, N.Y. to accept the position. He then made a day trip to Nantucket, R.I., to have lunch with Ed Hajim, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees.

“This has been quite the amazing week,” said Ainslie. “This is a huge privilege.”

Ainslie will be taking over a school that has been known for its stellar faculty which has been at the forefront of an analytic, rigorous approach to business. Zupan, dean since 2004, reversed a decline in MBA enrollment, created several successful new master’s programs, including a one-year MBA program, unveiled a new branding campaign, and raised $65 million. Enrollment increase to 1,129 in 2011-2012 from 989 in 2007-2008.


More challenging, however, has been the school’s inability to make much of a dent in its MBA rankings. Poets&Quants currently ranks Simon 37th, with its highest rank of 37 from U.S. News & World Report. In the past ten years, Simon has fallen to 50th from 29th in Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s ranking. Back in 1988 and 1990, when BusinessWeek first began publishing an MBA ranking, Simon was rated 20th in the nation.

Seligman said Ainslie’s challenge will be “to cherish the legacy of this great school and increasingly welcome a new generation of scholars.”

Seligman, who introduced Ainslie to Simon’s faculty and staff this morning, described his new dean as “charming, capable and decisive. He is an individual who has an ability to inspire others. When we went through a lot of reference checking, people used phrases like, ‘He is super smart.’ Most of all they referred to him as a leader with a passion for success.”


In a brief talk, Ainslie paid tribute to several mentors, including former University of Chicago professor Peter Rossi, who now teaches marketing at UCLA, and Anderson Dean Judy Olian. “She is an amazing mentor and an amazing boss and has been wonderful to work with,” he said. Ainsley also referenced what he called his “incredible partnership” with Rob Weiler, associate dean of the MBA program at Anderson, the faculty and the students at UCLA.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, where he spent his formative years, Ainslie moved to Cape Town to do a degree in engineering at the University of Cape Town. With his degree in hand in 1983. he began a ten-year career in business, including as an electrical engineer for AECI (South Africa), sales and marketing for Hewlett Packard (South Africa), corporate finance with Standard Merchant Bank, and marketing and development for Compustat.

It was when he returned to Cape Town to earn an MBA in 1990 that his interest in academe was sparked. Urged to pursue a career as a scholar, he went to the University of Chicago where he earned his PhD in marketing and statistics in four years.

He joined Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management in 1997 as an assistant professor of marketing. Three years later, in 2000, he moved to Anderson and was named an associate professor in 2005. “I spent ten years doing what faculty do, but in 2010 I had this feeling that getting involved in the leadership of the MBA program would be something that I would really enjoy doing,” he said. “Four years later, I feel we are leaving on a great note. The incoming class is an awesome class and I feel a little bit of regret about not seeing them through.”


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.