Top B-School Deans Share Resolutions For 2020

New year. New decade. And with it, a new catalogue of hopes and aspirations at the top business schools in the United States.

A new calendar is a time for reflection, but it is also a time for planning ahead. As we do each year, Poets&Quants asked the deans of the leading B-schools to share their goals for the new year; the email responses comprise a wide range of plans, some rhetorical, others long-planned and precise, all ambitious. As with most resolutions, they combine the personal with the professional, and the hopeful with the realistic.

At Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, Mark Nelson is focused not only on the health and well-being of Johnson MBA students, but on innovations in learning that will transform the Johnson MBA in coming years. At UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Doug Shackelford hopes to make the first year of the school’s new centennial a time of greater flexibility and customization in an atmosphere of greater community support. Dartmouth Tuck School of Business Dean Matthew Slaughter is promising “broadscale changes” in first-year MBA students’ experience — while also vowing to listen more broadly and “more creatively” to the needs of the Tuck community.

Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Jonathan Levin echoes his counterparts when he notes that 2020 is a critical year politically as well as in business and graduate business education. “We are at a moment in time,” Levin says, “when the connection between business and society is being examined anew. The rise in inequality, and our struggle to address major challenges such as climate change and the impact of new technologies, are causing policy-makers, media, and the public to question whether business, long the engine of economic opportunity and well-being, is serving broad societal goals.

“Any such moment creates opportunities, and for 2020, I resolve to invest in Stanford GSB’s commitment to educating leaders who will think broadly of their role in society, and our intellectual efforts to think both critically and constructively about how business can foster inclusive innovation and growth. I am excited about new efforts in the GSB’s curriculum, the research of faculty, and the work of our students and alumni in promoting these goals, and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish over the new year.”


NYU Stern Dean Raghu Sundaram. Courtesy photo

NYU Stern School of Business Dean Raghu Sundaram says the period of huge changes at Stern is not over. In fact, it’s heating up.

“My resolution for 2020: In a word, that we as an institution continue to embrace, and ever more enthusiastically, the one constant in our lives — change,” Sundaram says. “Embracing change, innovation, and continuous, sometimes disruptive, improvement have always been part of our DNA. We are resolved to build on our momentum.

“In just the last two years, we have launched the Endless Frontier Labs that integrates the MBA curriculum with the venturing process; introduced new programs such as our Andre Koo Tech MBA and the Fashion & Luxury MBA; created interdisciplinary and pan-university centers, like the Volatility and Risk Institute that examines the interplay of financial, geopolitical, cyber, and climate risks; greatly expanded experiential learning opportunities for our MBA students by connecting ever more closely to our matchless ecosystem in New York City; embraced new formats with the first online MS in Management in the United States; expanded geographically with joint master’s programs with NYU Shanghai; introduced lifelong learning for our alumni; and much, much more.

“Today’s business world demands that our graduates excel as nimble, agile talent that think in cross-disciplinary ways, thrive in ambiguity, and are ready to lead change. We are role modeling this for our students, walking the talk as a school, collaborating with the best talent at NYU, in NYC and across the globe, to inspire both mindset and action in making change an ally. For me, this means we should dare to experiment, we should dream big, and we should drive the change we want to see in the world.  That’s what will be in store for us here in Greenwich Village.


Mark Nelson, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth dean at Cornell Johnson, says in 2020 he will focus on opportunity, community, and individuals.

“Opportunity: At Cornell’s campuses in Ithaca and NYC, we will continue investing in programming like Johnson’s first-year immersions, FinTech and digital marketing intensives, and experiential learning in investment banking, consulting, technology and other key areas,” Nelson says. “We must continue to innovate to ensure that our students are prepared as future business leaders.

“Community: Our students and alumni support each other in a remarkably tight-knit community. That community sustains us in many ways, welcoming and supporting students from throughout the world and helping to produce excellent employment outcomes. But community doesn’t just happen — it requires that we continue to foster and celebrate an inclusive culture in which we have each other’s backs even as we drive each other forward.

“Individuals: In the context of remarkable opportunities and a powerful community, we can’t lose sight of the individual. Every Johnson student is unique, with their own goals for their career and their contribution to society.

“We will continue to focus on crafting each student’s distinctive MBA to enable each student to realize their distinctive ambitions while also supporting their health and well-being.”

Read about B-school deans’ resolutions for 2018 and 2019 here and here.

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