Best Candidates To Be Dean at Kellogg, Haas, Cornell & UCLA

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University


L. Joseph Thomas

Cornell Johnson College of Business Interim Dean L. Joseph Thomas

Who ever said you can’t go home again? When the university asked for and received Dutta’s resignation, it immediately turned to an old hand and familiar face to lead the College of Business. L. Joseph Thomas was a safe bet, having been dean of the Johnson School from 2007 to 2012. Four years later in 2016, he was named professor emeritus of operations, technology and information management.

In getting Thomas to accept the interim role overnight, Provost Michael Kotlikoff turned to someone he could thoroughly trust and could put on a positive spin to the obvious leadership turmoil. “My goal,” said Thomas, “is to continue to build on the college’s many successes, and carry out its mission of excellence in teaching and research. Our course is set and we are full steam ahead.”

While Thomas would almost certainly be a short-term solution given his 76 years, he would immediately restore stability to the place, allowing the university to further groom Nelson or to gain more time to bring in another outsider. As dean of Johnson, Thomas led the development of the school’s long-term strategic plan, updated the Johnson’s brand and oversaw growth of the executive MBA programs. Prior to his service as dean, his leadership roles included associate dean for academic affairs, director of the doctoral program and director of executive education. Thomas has won several teaching and research awards and has consulted with and led management-education programs for several Fortune 100 companies.

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

After an 11-year stint as dean of UC-Berkeley’s prestigious Haas School of Business, Dean Rich Lyons announced last June that he intends to step down at the end of June of 2018. The guitar-strumming dean who returned to Haas from Goldman Sachs where he had been the chief learning officer has led major changes at the school. He oversaw an overhaul of the MBA curriculum, crafted a set of guiding principles for the school’s culture, launched Berkeley’s own Executive MBA program as well as a novel joint undergrad program with the university’s engineering school, and raised subsantial funds for a new $60 million building on the Haas campus. In fact, Lyons reeled in eight of the school’s ten largest gifts in its history.

Through every transition and change, the 56-year-old Lyons maintained the school’s stellar reputation as a world class player in business education. Sources say the search committee has been focused on gaining a successor to Lyons who is already a dean of a business school equivalent in prestige to Haas or a senior associate dean of a more highly ranked school. Strong academic cred, meaning a tenured faculty position with a chair, is an absolute necessity in the job. Combined, those are high hurdles for a search, but Haas would be a plum assignment, given its status and Bay Area location in the most dynamic sector of the economy. For a successor, the biggest challenge at Haas is dealing with ever decreasing state support, something at which Lyons has done an exceptional job.

Karl Ulrich

Wharton Vice Dean Karl Ulrich

At the very top of Haas’ list should be Karl Ulrich. the vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Wharton School. Ulrich is exactly the kind of innovator who could make a big and strong contribution to Haas, and he is a natural in the Bay Area, having under his purview Wharton’s West Coast campus in San Francisco. He also led Wharton’s aggressive move into MOOCs, a strategy that has made Wharton faculty and the school’s brand among the most well known throughout the world.

If Haas can convince him to leave, there is also an interesting precedent of sorts. When University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann picked Tom Robertson over the obvious and internally unanimous choice of Dave Schmittlein, Wharton lost Schmittlein to MIT Sloan where he still serves as dean. And when she chose Geoffrey Garrett as Wharton dean in 2014, she effectively put Ulrich on the open market. He has been a loyal member of Garrett’s senior leadership group. But the chance to run Haas could prove irresistible to him.

After all, as a true academic entrepreneur and innovator, he would seem more at home in the Bay Area than in Philadelphia. At Penn, he co-founded the Weiss Tech House and the Integrated Product Design Program, two institutions fostering innovation in the university community. In addition to his academic work, Ulrich has led dozens of innovation efforts for medical devices, tools, computer peripherals, food products, web-based services, and sporting goods. He even holds 24 patents. Ulrich is a founder of Terrapass Inc. which the New York Times identified as one of the most noteworthy ideas of the year, and he is a designer of the Xootr scooter, which Businessweek recognized as one of the 50 coolest products of the 21st Century. Ulrich holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.

Robert Helsley

UBC Sauder Dean bob Helsey

Bob Helsley knows the Haas School well. Between 2008 and 2012, he was a Haas professor and chair in real estate development as well as co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. Then, he left Berkeley to move north to Canada to assume the deanship of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. For Helsley, Sauder represented a return trip. He had been senior associate dean of faculty and research at Sauder from from 2002 to 2008 before Berkeley stole him away.

This would seem an ideal time to steal him again as Lyons successor. He is credited with leading UBC Sauder to a level of prominence, Helsley managed initiatives to significantly renew and expand the school’s academic staff and played a central role in the revitalization of the school’s teaching facilities on the UBC campus.

And he clearly boasts strong academic chops. He completed an MA and PhD in Economics at Princeton University, and a BS in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Oregon. He has published widely in the areas of urban and public economics, real estate and public policy.

Candace Yano

Candace Yano, associate dean for academic dffairs at Haas

As associate dean for academic affairs at Haas, Candace Yano would be the leading inside candidate to succeed Lyons. She joined the school 17 years ago in 2001 after serving as chair of the university’s department of industrial engineering & operations research. One drawback is that other than her relatively short stint as an associate dean, she hasn’t accumulated all that much administrative experience. But given her long years at Haas and her strong academic bonafides, she would do a good job succeeding Lyons, and she knows the school and its culture well.

After earning four degrees(yes four!)  from Stanford University, including her PhD in industrial engineering in 1981, Yanos worked for a couple of years at Bell Labs in New Jersey before beginning her career in academia at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she was an associate professor in the department of industrial & operations engineering. She could easily become the second female dean in Haas’ history, after Laura Tyson who headed up the school for three years from 1998 to 2001.

UCLA Anderson School of Management

After more than a dozen years as dean of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Judy Olian announced in late January that she wouldl leave her post at the end of the academic year to become president of Quinnipiac University.

For the Australian-born Olian, who has led Anderson since January of 2006, the new opportunity will allow a return to the East Coast. Before starting at UCLA, she had been dean of Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business as well as acting dean and senior associate dean of the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

She leaves a school that is much improved under her leadership. Olian successfully led a hard-fought effort through bureaucratic battles and faculty politics to gain self-supporting status for the school’s full-time MBA program. She has raised $400 million in philanthropic support at a public institution with little history of fundraising, bringing in a record $100 million gift from the late Marion Anderson. During an era of significant cutbacks in state aid, that money has allowed Olian to name three research centers, fund 13 term and endowed professorships, launch numerous student fellowships and programs, and begin construction of the new four-story, 64,000-square-foot, $80 million Marion Anderson Hall. More than half of Anderson’s current faculty were hired under Olian’s watch, and she has significantly increased gender diversity among both faculty and students.

Who would want to step into her shoes? Here are three very strong possibilities.

Idalene “Idie” Kesner

Idie Kesner, dean of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

An accomplished educator, administrator and leading researcher on strategic management, Idie Kesner has done an outstanding  job as dean of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in the past five years. She is one of those rare highly personable leaders who inspires profound admiration and respect from every stakeholder at Kelley, starting with students to faculty and alumni.

Along with Amy Hillman at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and Sri Zaheer at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Kesner is among the few leading female business school deans in the world and one of the most accomplished. Her passion and devotion to IU may make her difficult to move, but she is a true believer in the mission of a public university. 

At Kelley, she leads one of the largest portfolios of prestige, highly ranked business programs, with an undergraduate population of nearly 7,000 students in Bloomington alone, a full-time MBA program of more than 370 students, and one of the top online learning initiatives with 830 students enrolled in MBA and MS offerings. 

Since joining the Kelley School faculty in 1995 from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her fingerprints are on nearly every aspect of the school’s many programs. She was chairwoman of Kelley’s Full-Time MBA Program from August 2003 to August 2006 and chairwoman of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship from October 2006 to June 2009. From 1996 to 2003, she co-directed the school’s Consulting Academy.

Kesner received both her MBA and Ph.D. in business administration from IU; her doctorate was awarded in 1983. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Southern Methodist University in 1979.

David Bach

Yale SOM’s David Bach

If UCLA’s search committee wants a dean with a more global mindset, David Bach would certainly fit the bill. As deputy dean at Yale’s School of Management, he has been instrumental in the creation of  the school’s Global Network for Advanced Management and has introduced more global elements in SOM’s MBA curriculum. He also oversees SOM’s Executive MBA and newly established Master in Advanced Management programs. Bach also guides online education initiatives at SOM and oversees the Yale Center Beijing.

We’ve said all along that Bach and Anjani Jain,  the two deputies to Dean Edward Snyder, could rightfully lead any business school in the world. Jain is now serving as acting dean until Snyder returns from a one-year sabbatical in July. One issue: Snyder is now 65 and has done three deanships. It’s likely that he will step aside in the near future so it may be difficult to take Bach out of what will be a chance to run SOM as Snyder’s successor.

Bach joined SOM in 2012 after having been a major player at IE Business School in Spain as dean of programs. A winner of multiple teaching awards, Bach was named one of “40 under 40” business school professors by Poets&Quants, one of the “Top 50 business school professors on twitter” and has twice given a GMAC keynote address on innovation in management education.

An expert in political economy, his research and teaching focus on business-government relations, nonmarket strategy, and global market regulation. At Yale SOM, he teaches a core MBA course on State & Society as well as an elective course on Nonmarket Strategy. A native of Germany, he received his PhD and MA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a BA magna cum laude in Political Science and International Studies from Yale University.

Ezra Zuckerman Sivan

MIT Sloan Deputy Dean Ezra Zuckerman Sivan

UCLA also  should give a hard look at MIT Sloan Deputy Dean Ezra Zuckerman Sivan. As deputy dean, the professor of strategy and entrepreneurship has responsibility for all of Sloan’s faculty, approximately 200 (hiring, promotion and tenure, performance evaluation, and compensation), and half a dozen research centers based in Sloan.

Zuckerman’s performance as deputy dean since 2015 has been strong. He joined MIT in 2001 from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he had been an assistant and then associate professor for five years. A plus is his background in having taught in Stanford’s department of sociology, something that may make him more of an interesting candidate to run three schools that have been merged together.

It may also help that in 2015 he won an honorable mention for the Clifford Geertz Prize for Best Article for an article that may have given him additional insight into organizational politics. The article is entitled “When Politics Froze Culture.”

His master’s and executive level teaching centers on competitive and technology strategy. He is an economic sociologist whose research focuses on showing how an understanding of fundamental social processes is important for shedding light on key issues in business and management, as well as how an appreciation for the dynamics of business and management inform our understanding of fundamental social processes.  Zuckerman holds a BA in political science from Columbia University as well as an MA and a PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.




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