AN ECONOMIST BY TRAINING, HE WAS INITIALLY A RELUCTANT DEAN
When he was first asked by the university president if he would become dean of the business school, Canals was initially reluctant. “I told the president you are making a mistake because I am a scholar. I enjoy teaching and research. I have a passion for education. So I thought, ‘Well, this is not going to work. So anytime you think that I am not doing a good job or if senior faculty thinks I’m doing a lousy job, tell me and I’ll step down.’”
Clearly, that hasn’t happened. Instead, Canals will have finished his fifth three-year term as dean at the end of this school year, staying in the job far longer than most deans and becoming something of a statesman for business education. “After 15 years serving in this position, having spoken with the president of the University of Navarra, and considering that the school is reasonably in good shape -always with areas where we need to improve-, I have decided to step down as dean at the end of this school year,” he said in his message to staff.
An economist by training, he a tall man who wears dark blue conservative suits and has the lean frame of a marathon runner. He keeps in shape by running, swimming and playing tennis, but his true passions are history and philosophy. His comments are often peppered with ideas and quotations from historical figures, everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Aristotle, and he’s particularly fond of period of history that stirred the American Revolution. At a conference a few years ago on fiscal and monetary policy in Frankfurt, Germany, he drew upon Alexander Hamilton’s thoughts on the assumption of state debt by the federal government, a reference that drew a quick rebuke from one listener who decried him as “too pro-American.”
‘IESE IS AN INCREDIBLE ORCHESTRA THAT PERFORMS MASTERPIECES’
But one thing that is totally un-American about him is his humility. True to form, Canals only statement in the announcement of his leaving the deanship had to do with giving credit to others. In referring to the school’s vast global expansion, he said. “These initiatives are the result of true teamwork between IESE faculty and staff, students and alumni; moreover, they have a special meaning considering that many of them were undertaken in the middle of a deep economic crisis in Europe.”
In his letter to faculty, staff and students, he wrote: “It is a great honor to work at the University of Navarra and IESE, an institution with high ideals and willingness to serve and have a deep and positive impact on other people, organizations and society. I have found that IESE is an incredible orchestra that performs masterpieces whose beauty and harmony are above the individual performance of the best
soloists. I want to thank you all for your great support and constant collaboration.”
The school said that Canals will work as dean with the current Executive Committee until August of 2016. At the same time, the president of the University of Navarra Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, will set up an Advisory Search Committee and the announcement of the new dean is expected in June.
DON’T MISS: AN INTERVIEW WITH IESE DEAN JORDI CANALS