Long-time SMU Cox Dean To Step Down

Al Niemi, dean at Cox School of Business for the last 19 years, will step down after this academic year, the school announced. Courtesy photo

Al Niemi, dean at Cox School of Business for the last 19 years, will step down after this academic year, the school announced. Courtesy photo

Al Niemi, dean of the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business for the last 19 years, announced Thursday that he will step down at the end of this academic year, his 20th.

Niemi, the Cox School’s Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership, will stay on as a member of the school’s faculty, the school announced, and a search for his replacement will begin immediately.

Under Niemi’s leadership, Cox became one of the top business schools in the U.S. South and regularly ranked in the top 50 in the world. In Poets&Quants’ most recent rankings, Cox was 39th, up from 47th in 2014; US News ranks it 48th, Forbes 37th, Business Week 32nd, Financial Times 39th, and the Economist ranks it 46th.


Niemi’s planned departure comes following the successful conclusion of the schools Second Century Campaign, in which it raised more than $1.5 billion that will fund 689 endowed scholarships, 54 new endowed faculty positions, and 24 major new facilities or major renovations.

“We just finished SMU’s first century and the Second Century Campaign, so now is a time to look ahead,” Niemi said in a news release on the Cox website.  “We need someone with a vision to lead the Cox School to success in its next era. By stepping down as dean, but remaining to teach, I have the opportunity to support the next dean if he or she wants my advice, and I can be with my students, work with my faculty and staff colleagues and continue to be part of this great campus.

“It will be a privilege to end my career the way I began it — in the classroom, doing what I love best.”


Niemi graduated cum laude with an A.B. degree in economics from Stonehill College, and earn his M.A and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Connecticut. Before coming to SMU, he was dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia from 1982-1996. His fields of expertise include economic growth and economic forecasting, and he has written six books and more than 200 articles in leading journals and business publications, according to SMU.

“My professional relationship with Al Niemi pre-dates my own arrival at SMU as president,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in the news release. “He had already earned a reputation as an outstanding educator and business school administrator at the University of Georgia, so when the opportunity arose to recruit him to serve as the dean of the Cox School, it was an easy choice and one that has greatly benefited both Cox and the University. Under his leadership, the Cox School has strengthened its connection to the Dallas and North Texas community of which SMU is a part and has also become a globally prominent business school.”

“As an academician, administrator, and university citizen, Al Niemi is second to none,” SMU Provost Steven Currall added. “The business school faculty he leads enjoys a stellar global reputation. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs rank highly. The Cox BBA Scholars program, which allows first-year students with outstanding academic qualifications to be admitted directly into the Cox School, continues to attract the nation’s best and brightest undergraduates. In turn, the BBA Scholars program has helped enhance SMU’s student academic profile campus-wide.”

Niemi and his wife, Maria, have two grown children, Albert III and Edward Charles, and three grandchildren.


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