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Due To COVID-19, HBS Dean Nohria Will Stay On Until Year End

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria isn’t leaving his job at the end of this academic year after all. After a ten-year term as dean, Nohria was to step down on June 30 to take a year-long sabbatical.

Harvard says that the HBS dean has agreed to remain as dean through the end of December as a result of the “historical global upheaval and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The announcement was made just days after HBS fell to its lowest rank ever in U.S. News & World Report‘s annual MBA ranking. The school’s full-time MBA program dropped three places to rank sixth, below MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, and Chicago Booth.

Nohria’s publicly announced his decision to step down in early November. Sources have told Poets&Quants he had been disappointed when passed over for the presidency of Harvard University, a post that was won by the 68-year-old Lawrence Bacow who assumed office in July of 2018. 


An economist and lawyer, Bacow, who succeeded Drew Gilpin Faust, had been president of Tufts University for ten years from 2001 to 2011 and had been serving as the leader-in-residence at Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership.

The announcement of Nohria’s extension was made by Bacow. “We are very fortunate to have the sustained benefit of Nitin’s keen judgment, deep experience, and steady hand as we navigate the unprecedented circumstances now before us,” Bacow wrote in a letter to the HBS community Thursday afternoon.

“Such near-term continuity during an uncertain time will serve HBS and Harvard well.  It will also help ensure that Provost [Alan] Garber and I can give the ongoing dean search the full attention it deserves … as we continue working toward the selection of HBS’s next leader.”

Bacow made no comment on the progress of the search for Nohria’s successor. Five months before Nohria said he would step down, Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett announced that he would leave his deanship to take over at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. The University of Pennsylvania announced Garrett’s successor, Emory Goizueta Dean Erika James, in February after an eight-month-long search.

In his letter, Bacow said he was “extremely grateful” to Nohria for his willingness to stay on during this turbulent period, calling it “an act of institutional commitment wholly characteristic of his profound devotion to HBS and to the University.”



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.