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Dean Of The Year: The Three-Peat Change Agent

Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder

Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder

MAJOR CHANGES & COMPLAINTS

The triumvirate gives ample credit to what they inherited: A school with an Ivy pedigree, strong faculty and students, and an innovative integrated MBA curriculum. “We are all building on a foundation of what has come before,” says Jain. “But the clear vision and strategy for the school comes from Ted. It’s remarkable how he consistently reinforces it with all the stakeholders and with an attention to its execution and implementation.”

Not all of the changes have come without debate or conflict. When he tried to combine his one-year master’s students with MBAs, some MBA students complained. “There are MBAs who want cutting edge content but don’t want to be slowed down by those who haven’t had the same core, language or work experiences,” says Snyder. “It caused high friction. But it’s the real world. They don’t want to hear it from me. They want to hear it from the employers they want to work for. But I don’t mind people being blunt. At Chicago, it was a good day when we had ten naysayers. We have to be ready to be tough.”

Some students worried that the new ultra-modern home for the school would destroy its intimate culture.  Other students groused about the increase in MBA enrollment under Snyder who believed that SOM needed to produce more graduates to attract greater attention from corporate recruiters and to more quickly build on the school’s alumni network.

‘I MADE A MISTAKE,’ THE DEAN CONCEDES

When complaints reached Snyder, he held a town hall and quickly responded by adding another cohort. “A lot of us had chosen SOM because we thought the smaller community would foster deeper bonds,” says Brittan Berry, president of the student government. “People were really upset and were vocal about it. Snyder talked to everyone and afterward agreed to not to increase further and to add a cohort.”

Concedes Snyder: “I made a mistake when we went to an incoming class of 345. I should have increased the number of cohorts. Instead, the size of the cohorts got up to to 81. We’ve now gone from four to five sections, we’re back to 65 students in a cohort.”

Still, MBAs praise Snyder’s leadership style as well as his responsiveness. When students gathered for a discussion of racial issues after an unarmed black teenager was killed by a white police officier in Ferguson, Missouri, Snyder showed up not to lead but to listen. “He left his deanship at the door and became a concerned member of the community,” says Jake Dreier, a second-year MBA student. “Ted was there not as a leader but as a participant. There aren’t many deans who would do that.”

RECORD MEDIAN FIRST-YEAR COMPENSATION

That kind of word-of-mouth is spreading, also helping to fuel greater interest in the school. “The pool of applicants has been just amazing,” says Jain. “As the pool has gone up, the quality and the caliber of our students has really gone up.” The market is also noticing the difference.

The school’s preliminary pay and employment numbers are among the best it has ever reported. This year’s graduating MBAs pulled down total median first-year compensation of $146,480, up 9.1% from last year’s $134,231. At that level of pay, SOM is in an MBA sweet spot occupied by Columbia ($146,645), Wharton ($146,303), and Dartmouth Tuck ($146,020).

Median starting salaries jumped $10,000 to $120,000, while nearly 78% of the graduates reported getting other guaranteed first year compensation of $34,616. Some 96.4% of the class received job offers three months after graduation. “We are closing the gap with the best best schools on employment,” believes Snyder.

The new dean’s first five-year term is up this summer, and the university will almost certaintly sign him up for another five years. Whether Snyder completes a full second term is doubtful, but there is still more progress he wants to achieve before calling it quits. You can bet that by the time Snyder leaves his third deanship, Yale SOM will move even higher.

Related Stories:

2014 Dean of the Year: Paul Danos of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business

2013 Dean of the Year: Roger Martin of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School

2012 Dean of the Year: Nitin Nohria of Harvard Business School

2011 Dean of the Year: Robert Bruner of the University of Virginia’s Darden School

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.