It is not an overstatement to say that when Yale University announced that Edward ‘Ted’ Snyder would become the new dean of its School of Management expectations were extraordinarily high. After all, Snyder would be coming to his position with two successful deanships already behind him, at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Just four and one-half years into the job at SOM, Snyder has not merely met those high expectations. He has clearly surpassed them. On virtually every single metric of quality—from application volume and average class GMAT scores to MBA rankings and starting compensation for graduates—Yale SOM can boast major improvements. For bringing Yale SOM new prestige and prominence, the 62-year-old Snyder has been named Dean of the Year by Poets&Quants. It is an honor that has been bestowed on only four other business school deans since 2001.
The facts speak volumes on his accomplishment. This year’s entering class of 326 students—up from just 231 when Snyder took over—claimed a class average GMAT of 721, up two points on the previous year. the school’s acceptance rate has dropped three full percentage points to 20.7% from 23.7% in 2014. And for the first time since Poets&Quants has been ranking the top MBA programs, Yale became a Top Ten U.S. school this year, up from a rank of 14th when Synder arrived. indeed, the school’s rankings from The Financial Times, Bloomberg Business, and The Economist have all substantially improved in the past five years. It also helped that Snyder opened the doors to a new $243 million ultra-modern home for the business school, once scattered among several creaky mansions on campus.
THE BIG IDEA: ‘MOVE US FAR AWAY FROM A STANDALONE SCHOOL’
Mostly, however, the school’s gains have come from a major repositioning as a business school that is more deeply connected to its home university and one that is the most global of the U.S. business schools. “We had a big global brand at the university level, but not at the school level,” says Snyder. “The organizing idea was to move us as far away as possible from a standalone business school. Being at Yale made that relatively easy, and that was the big idea coming in.”
The full embrace of all that Yale University offers has worked like a charm. The most recent academic year saw some 1,030 non-business school students come to SOM to take electives, while as many as 900 MBA students went out to take courses at other Yale schools and departments. Some 72% of SOM students now take at least one course outside Yale, and SOM is reserving 10% of the seats in elective classes for students from such Yale schools as law, medicine, public health, divinity and drama.
Most notably, Snyder has led the development of the first global network of top business schools, a group that leverages faculty and students across 25 countries. The latest school to join the network is UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, giving the group a strong West Coast presence in the dynamic Bay Area. Snyder also introduced a one-year Master of Advanced Management degree for graduates of the Global Network for Advanced Management. This later program gives SOM a far more global flavor than it would ever have had, putting an extra 65 graduate business students on campus each year.
A 25% JUMP IN APPS LAST YEAR; A 29% RISE IN ROUND ONE
The changes have made the school far more attractive. After a massive 24.8% increase in applications to its MBA program last year, the school says that the number of candidates in this year’s round one pool rose by 29%. “What’s driving the increase is the clarity of our strategy, the new building, better rankings and job placement, but also the activation of the global network,” says Snyder, who is now going through the reappointment process.
His previous experience helped. Coming in, he knew he had to have more firepower at the top so he recruited two highly accomplished deans from Wharton and IE Business School in Spain, respectively Anjani Jain and David Bach. As senior associate deans, Jain runs the MBA program, while Bach leads executive MBA and global programs. Both of them could just as easily serve as business school deans themselves.
But their agreement to work selflessly as a team with Snyder has allowed the triumvirate to accomplish far more than otherwise would be possible. Asked if the trio have any disagreements, Bach says the arrangement has worked well. “Ted starts every conversation thanking people,” he says. “A lot of what we’ve done benefits from each other’s areas. In nearly four years, we haven’t had a single conflict.”