Ross Names ‘Favorite Son’ Its New Dean

Michigan Professor Scott DeRue on Mount Everest

Michigan Professor Scott DeRue on Mount Everest


What makes DeRue’s appointment so special involves his humble roots and unlikely path to deanship. Raised in Wallburg, North Carolina — a town of a little more than 3,000 people, about ten miles southeast of Winston-Salem — DeRue figured he’d be a medical doctor. He went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill thinking he would go pre-med. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” DeRue recalls. “I thought I was going to be a medical doctor because that was the thing to do if you were a high aspiring smart kid.”

It didn’t take long for DeRue to come to terms with a harsh truth. “It took my first biology class to figure out I was not going to do that,” he says. A botched pig dissection caused him to reconsider. The son of a businessman, DeRue remembered watching his father use business to make transformations. And DeRue is all about transformations. His first life transformation was forthcoming.

“I walked over to the business school and found a home in Kenan-Flagler,” DeRue remembers. Then, during his senior year, DeRue strolled into the office of Kenan-Flagler Business School professor, Dan Cable. The two had never met but DeRue was convinced Cable should advise his thesis. “I said, ‘Professor Cable, I’ve heard about you and I’ve never taken your course, but folks have told me you’d be a good thesis advisor given the topics I’m interested in.'” Cable obliged under one condition. DeRue would be treated like a PhD student. “I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I said, ‘Of course, yes,'” says DeRue. The result? “I couldn’t read it because of all the red marks on it,” he laughs.


Still, the time and effort Cable put into instructing and advising DeRue was life changing. “An undergraduate business education transformed my life and showed me what was possible,” says DeRue. “That put me on a path to really wanting to serve in higher education and in particular, business education.”

DeRue went on toward a successful career spanning management consulting and luxury yachts. With his B.A. in hand, he joined Monitor Group as a project manager and consultant, staying just over four years before joining the Hinckley Yacht Company in a marketing role. In 2003, he enrolled as a doctoral student, lecturer and research assistant at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business. During this time, he received a University Distinguished Fellowship and Lewis Quality Award from Michigan State University. DeRue joined the Ross School as an assistant professor of management in 2007 and was promoted to professor with tenure in 2013. Most recently, DeRue was an associate dean for executive education.

In taking over the leadership reins at Ross, DeRue inherits a school that has been showing strong momentum in the past two years—but that momentum has yet to be reflected in rankings. Ross was ranked 13th last year by Poets&Quants, two places lower than a year earlier and exactly the same rank the school had in 2010, the year before Davis-Blake switch dean’s chairs, going to Ross from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School.

Alison Davis-Blake takes over as the new Ross dean in August.

Alison Davis-Blake


Davis-Blake became dean of Ross in 2011 and during a difficult time. The school was in the red, largely a result of the then still lingering impact of the Great Recession which forced two of the big three U.S. automakers in Detroit into bankruptcy. The economic mess particularly wrecked havoc with Ross’ executive education business, which insiders say, saw revenues plunge from roughly $30 million annually to close to a low of $11 million. Because Ross’ exec ed profits go entirely to the school, the collapse of those offerings plunged the entire institution into a deficit. In a memo to the staff announcing her decision to depart as dean, Davis-Blake said her team has restored the school to a “healthy financial position” after a 70% increase in executive education revenue and a return to the school of nearly $3 million last year.

Two years into her deanship, alumnus and namesake Stephen M. Ross pledged $100 million to the business school on top of his $100 million naming gift in 2004. She also reeled in two big gifts last year: a $60 million pledge to Michigan’s Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and $20 million from Stephen and Karen Sanger to endow the new Sanger Leadership Center.


After a 31.3% jump in applications to its MBA program last year, Ross was able to achieve a new GMAT record for its incoming class of 708, six points higher than a year earlier. At Ross, 3,207 candidates vied for 407 seats in the Class of 2017, up from only 2,443 a year earlier. That brought the school’s acceptance rate to 28.3%, down from an estimated high of 35.9% in the previous year. Through the school’s round two deadline, it has reported its highest app volume since 2003.

Median starting salaries rose 2.4% last year to a record $117,750, up from $115,000 a year earlier. No less impressive, however, is that 90% of the graduates reporting stats to the school said they had received median sign-on bonuses of $25,000 each, while 49% of the class said they landed “other median compensation” of $20,000, up from $16,750 last year. All told, median first-year compensation for Ross grads totalled $149,960, a new all-time high (The median is weighted by the proportion of graduates who reported a sign-on bonus and other guaranteed compensation, because not everyone in the class receives those extras).

DeRue will clearly benefit from this progress as those improvements get reflected in forthcoming rankings for the school. But he is determined to build on that momentum. Based on his track record at the school, he looks likely to make a real difference.

**Editor’s note: On a follow-up call with Poets&Quants, Davis-Blake explained a previous version of this article implied three faculty members left Michigan Ross because of “something she did.” The three faculty members were Karl E. Weick, Claes Fornell and Robert Kennedy. “The implication that I drove these people away is not correct,” says Davis-Blake.

Davis-Blake maintains Weick was planning to retire (and at retirement age) before she took deanship. “I’m telling you the man retired because he was of an age where people have already retired,” says Davis-Blake. According to Davis-Blake, she has never met or had a conversation with Fornell. About six weeks into her deanship, Davis-Blake says Fornell sent her an email saying he would remain in France (where he was when Davis-Blake began her deanship). As for Kennedy, Davis-Blake says he had applied to many other dean positions before her arrival as dean and planned on becoming one. (Kennedy is currently the dean of Western University’s Ivey Business School in Canada.)

Davis-Blake pointed to “star hires” of senior faculty Stefan Nagel, Toni Whited, Jordan Seigel, and “abundant junior hires from elite schools.”


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.