A day after being charged with patronizing a prostitute, Whitman School of Management Dean Kenneth Kavajecz was removed from his job by Syracuse University. The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office confirmed yesterday (Sept. 16) that the dean had been ticketed for a misdemeanor for third-degree patronizing a prostitute in nearby Salina, N.Y., on Sept. 13. He is due Sept. 29 in Salina Town Court.
Kavajecz, who had been recruited from Wisconsin Business School three and one-half years ago, did not respond to an email seeking comment. He was paid $496,449 in 2014 as dean, according to tax filings.
When Kavajecz was removed from office by the university on Sept. 14, the university declined to offer any reason for his dismissal. After the sheriff’s office released a statement, however, the university promptly issued one of its own. “Given University policy, we are not able to discuss specifics of personnel matters,” said Kevin Quinn, senior vice president of public affairs, in a statement. “We have, however, confirmed with law enforcement that the alleged behavior did not occur on the Syracuse University campus, did not involve members of the campus community, and is unrelated to the former dean’s University responsibilities.”
IRONICALLY, ONLY TWO WEEKS EARLIER, THE STUDENT NEWSPAPER RAN A HIGHLY FLATTERING PROFILE OF THE NOW OUSTED DEAN
Only two weeks earlier, the student newspaper, The Daily Orange, had run a highly flattering profile on Kavajecz. “In the first few months on the job, he listened to faculty and staff in one-on-one and group meetings,” according to the story. “He chatted with students of all grade levels. More than three years later, transparency is still at the core of his leadership style: his office door is usually open, he includes his cell phone number in emails and he greets faculty and staff by their names.”
By all accounts, he seemed to have both the support and the admiration of the Whitman community. “He shook everything up,” Giuseppe Castelli, a Class of 2016 alum, told The Daily Orange. “Everything settled after years and years of complacency. He put the right people in the right places and brought this sense of urgency to the school that I didn’t see my freshman year. An urgency and fire to make us a top-notch school.” The newspaper quoted Will Geoghegan, assistant professor of management, as saying: “I don’t think anyone works harder to make this business school succeed than Dean K.”
The school’s full-time MBA program is ranked 89th best in the U.S. by Poets&Quants, having dropped six places from its year-ago rank of 83rd. The school’s undergraduate business program was just ranked 43rd by U.S. News & World Report, exactly the same rank it held last year.
ONE BIG MOVE: PARTNERING WITH 2U WHICH TAKES A MAJORITY OF REVENUE FROM AN ONLINE MBA
The most visible move made by Kavajecz as dean was to turnover the school’s online MBA program to 2U, a private, for-profit online degree platform that partners with colleges to develop interactive course materials and live classes. The Whitman school had entered the distance learning business in 1977, but decided that its existing product was antiquated and signed the deal with 2U, which often takes a majority of the revenue from such programs. The partnership began with the January 2015 cohort.
The 50-year-old Kavajecz joined Whitman in July of 2013, after spending more than ten years at Wisconsin Business School in Madison as a professor of finance, starting in May of 2003. He started his teaching career at the Wharton School in 1996 as an assistant professor for seven years after earning his PhD from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. When he left Wisconsin, he was associate dean of both the undergraduate program and the full-time MBA program.
At the time of his appointment as dean, Kavajecz beat out two other final candidates, Urton Anderson from the University of Texas at Austin and Donna Rapaccioli from Fordham University. Anderson was chair of the accounting department and professor of accounting at the McCombs School of Business, while Rapaccioli was dean of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham.
DON’T MISS: THE FACE-TO-FACE ONLINE MBA DEGREE