When David Hummels was appointed interim dean of Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management last September, he was charged with leading the search for a new dean. But after nine months of positive feedback from faculty, students, and alumni regarding Hummel’s performance as interim dean, he was hired as the new permanent dean. His transition from economics professor to dean was not without challenges, Hummels says.
“Any new job involves learning, but being an interim dean means making important decisions while you’re still working to get a handle on the constant swirl of activity. There’s a lot going on in a large and outstanding business school like Krannert, and even as an involved faculty member you only see and appreciate a small slice of that,” Hummels said.
Hummels joined Krannert in 2000 after serving on the faculty at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He attained his master’s degree and PhD, both in economics, from the University of Michigan in 1992 and 1995, after earning a B.A in economics and political science from the University of Colorado.
Hummels says Krannert felt right to him from the very beginning. “I think that from a faculty perspective at Purdue it really was apparent to me from the beginning that the environment here really made me feel that I could be more productive than I had been in the past,” Hummels says. “There’s a real sense here that people want to help you succeed. They want to help you overcome each other’s obstacles and simultaneously provide positive encouragement, which are both so helpful in a program like this.”
Hummels is currently leading the faculty members at Krannert through a massive review of their MBA program, a process that is still very early in its development. So far, he says, the review makes two priorities clear.
‘YOU DONT HAVE TO BE A QUANT TO MAKE DATA SING’
“One, we will have a renewed emphasis on the ability to use and effectively communicate about data. You don’t have to be a quant to make data sing,” Hummels says. “Two, we will emphasize the aspects of our program that are unique, such as the connection to STEM commercialization efforts at the Purdue Foundry.”
The Purdue Technology Centers and innovation accelerator Purdue Foundry were named the National Incubation Association’s 2014 Incubator Network of the Year, with an enormous outbreak of patenting and new business startups coming at the same time. The Krannert community has become a target-rich environment for MBAs who want to jump in and work at the intersection of business and technology, and more specifically, in the startup universe.
The experiential learning efforts at Purdue have also been a major mechanism in linking STEM fields and commercialization together. Purdue launched its Experiential Learning Initiative in fall 2009, and since then more than 800 students from seven colleges and 15 Purdue academic units have undertaken over 160 projects for a variety of client organizations. The projects typically revolve around developing business models that focus on achieving success for startups. Last year was a big one for the university’s entrepreneurial community, with a record 24 startups arising from Purdue innovation research.
KRANNERT RANKS ABOVE STANFORD, WHARTON IN ROI
“We’ve really started focusing on our experiential learning programs and our goal is to find students who can work in teams with our people over in Research Park on all of these new startups that have exploded in quantity on campus recently,” Hummels says.
Krannert places in the middle of most major rankings. Hummels, however, says that striving to improve Krannert’s rankings comes after improving the MBA program.
“There are a lot of rankings, they emphasize different things, and we’re all over the place in them. The key, we think, is not to chase rankings for their own sake but to build an outstanding program that emphasizes things faculty and students value,” Hummels says.