The University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has turned to an existing dean to succeed its current leader John Delaney.
The university today (April 8) named Arjang A. Assad, who for the past seven years had led the School of Management at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. His appointment becomes effective July 1.
The selection of Assad was a result of a national search assisted by the search firm Witt/Kieffer and former university Chancellor Mark Nordenberg who headed up a search committee. The board of trustees and provost made the final appointment based on the committee’s recommendations.
MOVING TO A MORE HIGHLY RANKED SCHOOL WITH RANKINGS MOMENTUM
In moving to Katz from Buffalo, Assad will be trading up. Katz is currently ranked by Poets&Quants as having the 43rd best full-time MBA program in the U.S., while Buffalo is ranked 15 places lower at 58th. Buffalo slipped one spot last year on Poets&Quants’ composite list, while Katz was among a handful of schools showing the most improvement, moving up 18 places from a rank of 61 a year earlier.
In an interview with Poets&Quants, Assad said his first order of business at Katz will be to insure that the existing faculty has the support and resources needed to do its job. “The first item on the agenda is maintaining the momentum,” he said. “They have really built up a good research faculty who are now accomplished and known in their areas of expertise. We need to make sure they are well supported and maintained because they will push the profile of the school further up. This is a new development that is starting to bear fruit.”
Assad said there also would be “a bunch of new initiatives, some driven by the vision by the current chancellor, including economic engagement which is not foreign to what a business school dean wants to hear. We also need to develop a growth plan for the school. We have to get faculty buy-in and approval around a few things we want to do well in terms of growth. Those have to be defined fairly early in my tenure and there will be resources to support those initiatives.”
ALUMNI RELATIONS MAY NEED SOME ATTENTION
Asked if he saw any holes in the portfolio that he would need to plug at Katz, Assad said that “I don’t see holes but I could see that once we define our initiatives we have to think hard about where the resources will go. It might be that some faculty expertise needs to be amplified beyond what we currently have at Pitt to make sure the initiatives can be carried out.”
Another agenda item for Assad might well be alumni relations. During an open forum on the dean search in November, some alumni raised concern about the failure of the search committee to contain a single alum. Bill Friday, the president of the Business Alumni Association, said he was “a bit concerned” the alumni association was not included in the search process. “Our hope is that it was a bit of an oversight,” Friday was quoted as saying. “It’s difficult not having a voice for the next dean. We would like to ask of you to consider someone from our board to be represented.” Jeff Marzina, a former president of the Pittsburgh Business Alumni Association, added that “one thing students ask about, over and over, is more alumni involvement.John Delaney has kept alumni in the loop. It’s important for the new dean to understand the significance of alumni involvement and the value of that.”
He first became acquainted with Katz three years ago when he was part of a re-accreditation team that visited the school. Ultimately, he says, he was contacted by the search firm to see if he had any interesting in the dean’s job at Pitt which will be subject to a five-year review.
GREW FACULTY AND STAFF BY MORE THAN 30% AT BUFFALO
When Assad became dean at Buffalo in 2008, he faced several major challenges due to cutbacks in state funding for the public university. “In the last few years, we were able to build the research faculty by more than 30% and the total faculty plus staff at similar proportions,” he said. “The operating budget of the school has gone up 35%. These are good accomplishments when all of us in education are dealing with resource constraints.”
Assad said enrollment growth during his term as dean has been “significant, especially at graduate levels by building new programs and more widely advertising what we have to offer.” He cited a new one-year MS degree program in finance, though Katz said he helped to create “new programs in health care management, leadership, and entrepreneurship.”
Before arriving at Buffalo as dean in August of 2008 at an annual salary of nearly $300,000, Assad held positions of increasing responsibility at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland where he taught operations management. As a senior associate dean, he was a member of the leadership team during a period of significant growth for the school. In 2007, he was named the inaugural Dean’s Professor for Extraordinary Service in recognition of his service to the school.
MADE SHORT LIST AT A COUPLE OF OTHER BUSINESS SCHOOLS BEFORE
Assad, who said he had been involved in other dean searches, praised the search process for the Katz job. Before taking the Buffalo job, Assad was one of four candidates on the short list for the dean’s job at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business. In late 2012, he also was among the three final candidates for the deanship at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. “To this day I don’t know who else was in the running for the position,” he said of the Katz job. “The search was headed by their former chancellor who was extremely good in overseeing the process.”