Deans’ Salaries At Top Public B-Schools

Money man

For Richard Lyons’ sake, let’s hope he takes home paper clips – a lot of paper clips – from his job as dean of the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business. Otherwise, it appears the man’s compensation is far out of line with his school’s stature and expensive location.

Now, $424,100 a year is nothing to sneeze at. But Lyons, dean of a B-school ranked 10th in the U.S. by Poets&Quants, makes substantially less than deans at some other public-university schools lower down in the rankings. Consider Maryam Alavi, dean of the Georgia Institute of Technology Scheller College of Business, ranked 38th. She makes $550,000.

Or consider Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, who pulls down $597,212, the highest annual salary of any public university business school dean and nearly $175,000 more than Lyons. If you adjusted for the difference in the cost of living between Ann Arbor and Berkeley, Haas would have to pay Lyons more than $1.5 million a year to equal the pay of Davis-Blake.

Of course, these comparisons do not suggest that Alavi or Davis-Blake are overpaid for the high-stakes, high-stress jobs they do, or that Lyons is underpaid, even if he lives and works in one of the most expensive regions of the country. What the salary data show is that there’s little rhyme or reason to the pay of deans at the top 25 business schools in U.S. public universities.

Among the 20 schools from which Poets&Quants was able to obtain salary figures, the median dean’s salary was $431,563. Several schools do not make deans’ salaries public, so that median number may be slightly skewed by incomplete data.

U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management interim dean Ann Stevens

U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management interim dean Ann Stevens


The deans’ pay has little connection to cost of living. Lyons makes $424,100 in Berkeley, a city where the cost of living is 131% higher than the national average. Alavi makes $550,000 in Atlanta, where the cost is 3.2% below the U.S. average. At Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business in Columbus, dean Anil Makhija makes $444,450, in a city where the cost is 18% below the national average. At the U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management, interim dean Ann Stevens makes $285,000, in a city with living costs 73% higher than the U.S. average (the $394,639 salary of former Davis dean Steven Currall perhaps better reflected the living-costs reality in Davis).

However, those wishing to witness a true oddity can climb down the rankings all the way to the bottom, and keep going, then shovel aside the ignominious controversy that currently surrounds the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Here, we find what many would consider truly ridiculous examples of dean pay. The recently deceased former Dean Ten-Kee Tan, who presided over Bloch while it was submitting false rankings to the Princeton Review, made an annual salary of $500,000 from 2012 to 2014, in spite of the school’s absence from all major rankings. Current Bloch Dean David Donnelly earns $425,000, as much as Dean Douglas Shackelford makes as head of 18th-ranked University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, located in Chapel Hill, where the cost of living is 28% higher than the average, compared to Kansas City, where it’s 6% lower.


Haas dean Richard Lyons

Haas dean Richard Lyons

Clamber back up into the rankings and keep going, up, up, almost to the very top, and you’ll find, for perspective, the private Harvard Business School, where Dean Nitin Nohria pulls in $662,054 for heading up one of the best business schools in the world and managing more than $650 million in annual revenues, in Boston where the cost of living is 61% higher than the national average.

In the following chart, we provide a list of the top 25 schools in public universities, each school’s ranking in the Poets&Quants top 100 MBA programs list, deans’ names, salaries, each dean’s amount of pay above or below the median, as well as the cost of living in the cities where the schools are located.

Any quants out there who find a pattern in this data are urged to provide it to Richard Lyons, who would likely buy lunch – just don’t be expecting a meal at Chez Panisse.

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