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Former Adcom Chief Derrick Bolton Makes A Return To Stanford GSB

During his 15 years as the head of MBA Admissions at Stanford, Bolton and his team were credited with increasing applications to the school by 55% to 8,000 a year. They reviewed more than 100,000 applications and ultimately enrolled over 6,000 students in the program. The women who enrolled during those 15 years represent 45% of the school’s women alumni.

Derrick Bolton, who had invested 15 years of his life as the assistant dean of MBA admissions at Stanford GSB, is making a return to the school. Stanford Graduate School of Business today (May 27) named Bolton the new associate dean for external relations, effective June 15th.

Bolton rejoins the GSB after spending the past four years as the head of admissions at Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. During that time, he worked with Stanford University President Emeritus John Hennessy, Nike co-founder Phil Knight, MBA ’62, and stakeholders across the university’s seven schools to define the selection criteria for scholars and launch the program in the Fall of 2018.

Bolton was succeeded in his GSB admissions job by Kirsten Moss in June of 2017. She also had returned to the school where she had spent six years, including one as director of MBA admissions between 2009 and 2010 under Bolton.


In his new GSB role, Bolton will lead the alumni relations team and development organization, working to expand the school’s global alumni presence as well as foster and strengthen relationships with Stanford GSB alumni.

“I am delighted to welcome Derrick back to the GSB,” said Dean Jonathan Levin in a statement. “Derrick’s passion for the school and our community is renowned. I look forward to working with him to engage the power and connection of our alumni community at a profound time of change.”

Before the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, Bolton spent 15 years as the assistant dean of MBA admissions and financial aid, where the school noted “he was revered for his commitment — to the job, the school, and the students.” He and his team were credited with increasing applications to the school by 55% during his tenure, to 8,000 a year. All told, Bolton and his team reviewed more than 100,000 applications to the school’s MBA program and ultimately enrolled more than 6,000 students, many of whom were called by telephone by Bolton and told of their invite to the school. No less impressive, the women who enrolled during those 15 years represent 45% of the school’s women alumni.


“Derrick has an innate ability to build meaningful and lasting relationships,” said Ali Ojjeh, MBA ’95 and co-founder and CEO of The Capital Partnership. “He amplifies the emotional attachment we have to the GSB. It’s why he has made such a lasting impact, and I couldn’t think of someone more well-suited to lead the school’s efforts with alumni.”

This is Bolton’s second return to the GSB. When Bolton took over the job just before Sept. 11, 2001, the Texas native was making a return trip to the Stanford campus. He first came to Stanford in the mid-1990s after a stint as a junior consultant with McKinsey & Co. He did a summer internship with Goldman Sachs in 1997 before joining Goldman in New York when he graduated in 1998 with a dual MBA and MA in education degrees. Three years on Wall Street apparently were enough, because Bolton came back to the GSB to take on the admissions role from the person who admitted him into Stanford’s MBA program, Marie Mookini, who served as director of MBA admissions for nearly ten years from August of 1991 to May of 2001.

During his early years at the GSB, Bolton was outspoken about the role of consultants in MBA admissions as well as the impact they have had on already anxiety-ridden candidates who compete for a seat at an elite business school. Once asked by a reporter about applicants using admissions consultants, he replied, “How can someone who doesn’t know you help you to be a more authentic version of yourself?”


Bolton has said he believes there is a lot of information in the marketplace that misleads candidates. In an earlier interview with Poets&Quants, he noted that he downloaded an application from one GMAT test prep company that purports to help candidates narrow down their selection of schools based on such personal criteria as undergraduate grade-point average (GPA), GMAT score, work, and leadership experience. Bolton plugged in his 3.7 GPA, his two years at McKinsey, his GMAT score, and other requested data. The program told him the best he could do was Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He sighs when telling the story. If there was an iPad and an app when he applied to business school in 1995, he says, he might never have applied to Stanford — and his life would have been very different.

Bolton received a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University.