Johns Hopkins University today (July 15) announced that it had stolen away the dean of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business as its new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
Sunil Kumar, who joined Booth five years ago from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he was a senior associate dean, will begin his new job at Johns Hopkins on Sept. 1. Kumar succeeds Robert C. Lieberman as provost. Lieberman announced in February that he would step down to return full-time to research and teaching.
Kumar’s departure is clearly a surprise. He was only reappointed to a second five-year term starting this past January. His rather abrupt departure makes him the third prominent business school dean in the past week who has decided to leave his job after what amounts to just a single five-year term, following announcements from the business school deans at both Georgetown University and Northeastern University. The deans at Georgetown and Northeastern plan to return to the faculty. In Kumar’s case, he is leveraging his Booth deanship into a bigger job as a university provost.
As provost, Kumar will be Johns Hopkins’ chief academic officer. He will work with the president and deans on university-wide interdisciplinary collaboration, academic policy, and key priorities including diversity, student aid, and commitment to the communities surrounding Johns Hopkins campuses.
KUMAR WALKED INTO A SCHOOL THAT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN BETTER SHAPE
When Kumar arrived at Chicago Booth in 2011, he walked into a school that could not have been in better shape thanks to predecessor Dean Edward Snyder, who now leads Yale University’s School of Management. Snyder worked magic at Booth, bringing in the largest gift to any business school ever–$300 million—nearly doubling the school’s endowed professorships, tripling scholarship assistance, and boosting the school’s endowment by 141% to $475 million from $197 million.
The increase in endowment, moreover, occurred outside the $300 million gift by alum David Booth, a gift that began providing a steady flow of cash to the school via a stream of dividends that effectively boosts the initial value of the gift by 50%. Most notably, Snyder moved Chicago to number one in Bloomberg Businessweek’s rankings. When he arrived at Chicago in 2001, the school never had had a No. 1 ranking and was ranked tenth by Businessweek.
In short, Snyder was a tough act to follow. “The school was in excellent shape, but we could get better and things have gotten better,” Kumar told Poets&Quants last year. Though Booth has since lost its No. 1 ranking from Businessweek, dropping to second, and slipped three places in the Forbes ranking to sixth, the school has generally maintained its lead against a field of world-class competitors. Poets&Quants‘ composite ranking places Booth third after only Harvard and Stanford and slightly ahead of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School–exactly where it was when Kumar came aboard.
DOUBLED DOWN ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In his five and one-half years in the job, Kumar raised more than $300 million and increased Booth’s endowment by 50% to $710 million from $435 million. A large chunk of the money he brought in went toward student financial aid, allowing Booth to report ever increasing GMAT averages for its incoming classes of MBA students. Last year, Booth’s average GMAT scores surpassed Harvard Business School for the first time, rising to 726, third best in the world behind only Stanford (733) and Wharton (732). He added new faculty chairs, two new research centers, a social enterprise initiative and a leadership laboratory. All told, the school saw an 8% increase in faculty under him, with greater emphasis on behavioral marketing and operations hires. He invested more heavily in promoting the research of faculty, supporting the redesign and launch of a publication now called Chicago Booth Review.
Kumar also doubled Booth’s investment in entrepreneurship, putting new life into the school’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Last year, entrepreneurship surpassed finance as the number one concentration in Booth’s MBA program. Booth now boasts 24 full-time and clinical faculty and offers 30 entrepreneurship and related courses. Only two months ago, MBA alum Michael Polsky provided a new gift of $35 million for the center.
He also moved the international campus of its Executive MBA program out of Singapore and into Hong Kong. “While the Singapore program was doing very well, it primarily resulted in people who stayed in Singapore,” says Kumar. “Having a serious post in China was an important need, and Hong Kong allowed us to operate using our traditional model which is having the same Booth faculty and no partners.”