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HEC Paris Dean Resigns To Focus On Recovery From Brain Tumor

HEC Paris Dean Peter Todd

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor 18 months ago, HEC Paris Dean Peter Todd today (Oct. 5) announced that he would step down from his job to focus more fully on his recovery. A spokesperson for the school said that Todd Peter will be leaving HEC Paris on Oct. 31st and that an interim dean will be appointed shortly. 

It had been my intention to see this year to its end but I find that I am not able to do so, certainly not at the level that I expect of myself and that you have every right to expect from your Dean,” wrote Todd, 58, in an email to his colleagues. While Todd said the tumor was benign, and his prospects for a full recovery is good, he and his wife, Connie, decided it would be best for his health not to carry on his duties as dean.

“Coping with its ongoing effects while at the same time managing the school through the complexity and stress of the Covid-19 crisis have taken a personal toll that leave me needing, with the support and encouragement of Connie, to focus on my health and well-being,” added Todd. “I take this decision knowing that the school is actually led, not by a single person, but by a leadership team who manage with purpose and with an exemplary dedication to the school. And knowing too that, for each of you, your deep commitment to the school ensures our success and that of our exceptional students.”   

‘WE HAVE MOVED HEC PARIS FORWARD’

Born in Burnaby, Canada, Todd joined HEC Paris in July of 2015 to become the first non-French dean of the school, succeeding Bernard Ramanantsoa after a 20-year-long deanship. He moved to France after a nine-year stint as dean of Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Canada. Todd had already stepped down from the deanship at McGill and was on a year-long sabbatical when he was recruited for the job. He spent his time off with his wife to think about the future.

“We set ourselves a trajectory of either the West Coast of North America or something in Europe,” he told Poets&Quants. “I’d never thought about HEC because I never thought they’d hire someone from outside of France into what is a sacred French institution. I’d heard about a couple of schools in Europe that were more UK-based when someone from HEC called me literally out of the blue one day and said would you have any interest in doing this. It just went from there.”

In his message, Todd thanked his colleagues for their work over the past five years. “IIt has been an honour, a privilege and a deep learning experience,” he wrote. “I believe together we have moved HEC Paris forward and know that there is much more to come for this remarkable institution. Its future is in great hands, yours. I realize my departure comes at a complicated time and in what was already planned as a year of transition.”

HELD ADMINISTRATIVE ROLES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON AND UVA’S MCINTIRE SCHOOL

Todd began his academic career after earning his Ph.D. in business administration and management from the University of British Columbia in 1988. He joined Queen’s University as an assistant professor and spent eight years at the school. Todd then joined the University of Houston first as a professor in 1997 before becoming an associate dean for academics two years later. In 2002, he moved to the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia to be vice dean of the undergraduate school’s master’s programs. He left after three years to take the deanship at McGill.

His full letter follows:

Colleagues.

As a follow up to the message you received this morning from Jean Paul Vermes I want to say thank you to all of you for allowing me to work beside you over the past five years. It has been an honour, a privilege and a deep learning experience. I believe together we have moved HEC Paris forward and know that there is much more to come for this remarkable institution. Its future is in great hands, yours. 

I realize my departure comes at a complicated time and in what was already planned as a year of transition. It had been my intention to see this year to its end but I find that I am not able to do so, certainly not at the level that I expect of myself and that you have every right to expect from your Dean.

We have lived through much these last five years and I have always tried to be open and transparent with you as we navigated complicated times and despite those complexities made important progress as a school. In the interest of continued transparency, as some of you already know, I was diagnosed about 18 months ago with a brain tumor, which luckily for me is benign and which treatment has brought under control for now. My long term prospects are good. But coping with its ongoing effects while at the same time managing the school through the complexity and stress of the Covid-19 crisis have taken a personal toll that leave me needing, with the support and encouragement of Connie, to focus on my health and well-being.

I take this decision knowing that the school is actually led, not by a single person, but by a leadership team who manage with purpose and with an exemplary dedication to the school. And knowing too that, for each of you, your deep commitment to the school ensures our success and that of our exceptional students.   

I take this decision as well knowing that we are strongly supported by our Board of directors, our International advisory board, the HEC Paris Foundation, the HEC Paris Alumni Association and the Chambre de Commerce, along with all our alumni, donors, corporate and academic partners and friends who collectively bring us strength and propel us forward.

And I take my leave confident that for all you have achieved, you are never satisfied and that, as a result, the very best days for HEC Paris are the one’s that lie ahead. 

With my warmest regards and best wishes for the future of HEC Paris.

DON’T MISS: MEET THE HEC PARIS MBA CLASS OF 2021 or DEAN’S Q&A: PETER TODD OF HEC PARIS