Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, in an active search for a new dean for the past eight months, lost a leading contender for the job today (May 22) to the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. Sevin Yeltekin, a highly admired senior associate dean and professor at Tepper, will become the first woman to lead the Simon School on July 1.
Yeltekin, a 48-year-old brainy economics professor at Tepper with strong research credentials, would have been the most obvious internal candidate to succeed Tepper Dean Robert Dammon. A professor at Tepper for the past 15 years, she has served as the school’s senior associate dean of education since September of 2017, overseeing the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs, since 2017. One of only two senior associate deans reporting to Dammon, she is widely considered a natural take-charge leader known for both her ability to come up with creative ideas and make difficult decisions. She was awarded an endowed professorship, Rohet Tolani Distinguished Chair, only two months ago. Her departure from the school is a big loss, just as it is a major coup for Rochester Simon.
In going to Simon to succeed the departing Dean Andrew Ainsle, Yeltekin has chosen a school with a similar analytical, data-driven approach to problem solving as the more highly ranked Tepper. In the latest 2019-2020 Poets&Quants‘ ranking of the best full-time MBA programs, Tepper placed 17th, 20 places above Simon’s MBA offering. She played a major role in updating Tepper’s MBA program to put greater emphasis on technical skills, including integrating new courses on data, analytics and programming. She had developed a popular course on Emerging Markets to complement her MBA core teaching on Global Economics.
‘SHE IS EXCEPTIONALLY WELL PREPARED TO LEAD SIMON’
“Sevin is an internationally renowned economics scholar and an esteemed innovator in business education, and I am proud to introduce her as Simon’s eighth dean and the school’s first ever woman leader,” said University Provost Rob Clark in a statement. “She is exceptionally well prepared to lead Simon with both ambition and ability to continue to enhance the school’s prominence nationally and globally and provide students with outstanding academic and professional experiences.”
Yeltekin’s appointment follows a national search led by Jim Brickley, the Gleason Professor of Business Administration at Simon, to identify a successor to Ainslie, who has led the school since 2014. The search committee, composed of a dozen members, was assisted in its search by the search firm of Isaacson, Miller. Since its formal establishment as a graduate school in 1958, Simon has grown to an enrollment of more than 1,200 students across nearly a dozen degree programs. Under Ainslie, Simon was the first graduate business program in the nation to earn STEM designation for all of the school’s full-time programs, a move that nearly all business schools have since followed. Clark also praised Ainslie for his service. “I also wish to thank Dean Andrew Ainslie for his outstanding service as dean for six years. His leadership has undoubtedly advanced the Simon Business School in significant and meaningful ways,” he said.
The Tepper search committee, named in September of last year, is being assisted in its search by the headhunting firm of Heidrick & Struggles. The 17-member group is co-chaired by a pair of Tepper professors, Sridhar Tayur, an operations management faculty member, and Anita Williams Woolley, an associate professor of organizational behavior and theory. It would be surprising if Yeltekin left Tepper without receiving some sort of signal from either the committee or the university provost that she would not get the Tepper deanship. Dammon, who announced he was stepping down last August, is expected to remain in the job until his successor is named. He is also committed to helping with the transition.
A PHD FROM STANFORD, HER FIRST TEACHING GIG WAS AT NORTHWESTERN’S KELLOGG SCHOOL
A highly respected macroeconomics scholar, Yeltekin is well-known for her research in the design of sustainable monetary and fiscal policies in environments where policymakers and the public have informational asymmetry. Her research spans fiscal policy design, social insurance design, computational economics and asset pricing implications of macro policy. No less crucial, she co-founded and leads the Blockchain Initiative at Tepper, which brought together all of the school’s research, teaching and thought leadership on blockchain and cryptocurrencies under one umbrella.
Yeltekin joined the Tepper School of Business in 2005 as assistant professor of economics and was named professor in 2017. Prior to joining the Tepper School, Yeltekin was a member of the faculty at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University from 1999 to 2005. Known as a superb teacher as well as researcher, Yeltekin has won teaching awards at both Kellogg and Tepper. She also has served as an associate editor at four journals: Operations Research, Journal of Monetary Economics, Macroeconomic Dynamics and Quantitative Economics.
Born in Turkey, she went to high school in Istanbul, graduating from Robert College, a five-year high school operating under the Turkish Ministry of Education in the English language.She received her bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics in 1993 from Wellesley College, and her master’s and PhD degrees in economics from Stanford University in 1995 and 1999, respectively.
“Simon Business School, with its rigorous, analytical and research-driven approach to education is a perfect fit for my background and vision,” said Yeltekin in a statement. “Simon delivers the state of the art and foundational skills in all of its programs to help the next generation of leaders create innovative solutions for businesses and society at large. This is a remarkable time to be in business education and in higher education in general. The business and societal challenges and opportunities are unprecedented, and I am looking forward to working with the remarkable scholars, staff and students at Simon to meet these challenges and create a new future for them, for the school and the university.”
TAKING OVER FROM A SUCCESSFUL DEAN AT SIMON
Yeltekin will take over the job after a successful deanship by Ainslie who, among other things, made the bold decision in 2015 to cut the total tuition of its prestigious full-time, two-year MBA program by 13.6 percent, a move that resulted in an increase in both global and domestic applications. He froze tuition rates for three years after the cut.
Ainslie’s most significant accomplishment may well be his leadership in making Simon first U.S. business school to gain full STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) designation for its full-time MBA program. The innovation put Simon in a stronger position to attract candidates from outside the U.S. by allowing international MBA graduates, who can now hold U.S. jobs for only 12 months, to remain stateside for an additional 24 months after graduation. Poets&Quants named Rochester’s MBA experience the MBA Program of the Year in 2018. The move helped Simon keep its MBA application volume stable this year while most other MBA programs have suffered significant declines.
Rochester University President Sarah Mangelsdorf also heaped praise on their new hire. “I’m delighted to welcome Sevin Yeltekin to Rochester knowing that she brings great intellectual energy and strategic vision to this key leadership role,” said Mangelsdorf in a statement. “I’m very confident she will take the Simon Business School to new, great levels.”
Yeltekin was appointed to a five-year term.