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Cornell Taps Insider For B-School Dean

Kevin F. Hallock has been named the dean of Cornell’s Johnson College of Business

Eight months after the abrupt and mysterious departure of its dean, Cornell University turned to a known insider to take over as dean of the Cornell Johnson College of Business.

The university announced yesterday (Oct. 2) that it gave Kevin F. Hallock, the dean of its School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a promotion to succeed Soumitra Dutta who had resigned on Jan. 30th. L. Joseph Thomas has been interim dean since Dutta’s resignation for which no public reason has ever been given.

An economist and expert in executive pay, Hallock has been a professor at Cornell for the past 13 years and dean of the university’s industrial and labor relations school since 2015. He will assume his new job on Dec. 15th for a term that runs through June 30th of 2024.


Dutta, a long-time INSEAD professor who arrived at Cornell in July of 2012 to become dean of its Johnson Graduate School, resigned less than two years after taking on deanship as head of the newly enlarged school which included its graduate and undergraduate business schools as well as the university’s School of Hotel Administration.

His resignation was announced in an unusually terse announcement—in just two sentences by a university spokesperson. It did not even include a boilerplate thank you or praise for what Dutta had accomplished in the job. Rumors have circulated for months over what led to Dutta’s departure, whether it was caused by a clash with Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff or some impropriety by Dutta. But there has never been an explanation from either Cornell or Dutta.

Many observers believed the best candidate to succeed Dutta would be someone who was well known on campus given the circumstances surronding Dutta’s resignation. Even beyond his current deanship, Hallcock has racked up a good deal of administrative experience at the university. He chaired Cornell’s Financial Policy Committee 2008-09 and served as the Donald C. Opatrny ’74 Chair of the universitywide Department of Economics 2012-15. He was also a member of the Provost’s Budget Model Task Force and is currently chair of the steering committee for the Cornell Student Experience Initiative.


He will be taking over a college that appears to be working well. In making the announcment, Cornell noted that in 2017-18, applications for open faculty positions were “five times higher than prior years in some areas” for the newly enlarged college of business. “Acceptance of offers was also high compared to historical levels, and the college has successfully hired 20 new faculty,” according to the school. “Applications for undergraduate programs in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the School of Hotel Administration grew by 80 percent between 2016 and 2018.”

Hallock said he is “grateful and excited” to take on the new job. “The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, in its infancy, faces challenges, like many new organizations, and those challenges are part of what attracted me to this role,” he said in a statement. “But there is also enormous opportunity, outstanding strength and unique advantages in the college and its three schools. I am excited to work with its talented staff, students, faculty and alumni, and I am exceptionally optimistic about the future of the college.”

As is customary, Provost Kotlikoff also heaped praise on his choice. “As an accomplished economist, scholar and administrator, Kevin provides the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business with the leadership to maximize its enormous potential,” Kotlikoff said in a statement. “His thorough familiarity with Cornell’s administrative workings is a significant asset, and the college will be well served by his deep understanding of business administration theory and practice.”


Hallock is an expert on executive compensation, compensation design and labor markets. His most recent research is on the relationship between the complexity of executive compensation contracts and corporate performance. His work has appeared in numerous academic journals including The American Economic Review, the Journal of Corporate Finance and the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis.

Hallock earned a bachelor’s degree in economics summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1991. At Princeton University, he earned a master’s degree in economics in 1993 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1995.

He spent the first 10 years of his academic career on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, including an appointment in the College of Commerce and Business Administration (now the Gies College of Business).


Among his accomplishments as ILR dean, the university cited his guidance of the school through a strategic planning process, investments in the student experience and student well-being, and the introduction of initiative that brings together students, staff and faculty around a common theme (this year’s is “Technology and the Evolution of Work”). The university also said he raised resources for investments in faculty and research, has taken steps to enhance staff well-being by investing in human resources, and led the transition of ILR’s New York City office from its current location on 34th Street to its new home at 570 Lexington Ave., which will open in January 2019.

Hallock expressed gratitude to his colleagues at ILR. “ILR is so extraordinary, and thanks to the work of our exceptional students, staff, faculty and alumni, it is unique in higher education. The ILR School is on a clear trajectory to continue to enhance its important initiatives as the world leader in the study and practice of work, workers and workplace issues,” he said in a statement.

Kotlikoff said the search for a permanent ILR School dean will begin immediately and he plans to announce an interim dean next week.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.