Amy Hillman, the highly visible and accomplished dean of Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, has left the job and returned to the faculty after an eight-year run.
Oddly, the university has made no announcement of her departure. Instead, the news was buried in a statement about the appointment of an interim dean for the school. That notice, in the form of an article written by a university public relations staffer, did not include the often customary statement from a university president thanking a dean for their service and accomplishments. The university did not return a call from Poets&Quants for comment.
In an email, Hillman explained that she began to discuss succession planning with the university’s provost last summer but held off on stepping down until she completed her portion of a university fundraising campaign. Hillman said she agreed to “conform to a ‘normal’ recruitment schedule for a new dean, but the campaign put us off a traditional academic year schedule. My husband, Gerry Keim, also a now emeritus professor from W. P. Carey, retired effective August 31, 2020 and the last 9 months took a lot out of all of us. So, it felt right.” She noted that since her appointment as dean in March of 2013, she has traveled 150,000+ miles every year on behalf of the school.
In her eight years in the job, Hillman became one of the most prominent of the few women to lead a top business school. The first woman to lead ASU’s business school, she was an outspoken advocate for women in academia and a true innovator. She led the launch of numerous new degree programs, including a master’s degrees in finance, global logistics, an online master’s in business analytics and a new master’s in accounting in a unique partnership with KPMG.
HILLMAN LEAVES A STRONG RECORD OF ACHIEVEMENT
Hillman raised $150 million as part of the university’s latest capital campaign, and expanded the school’s undergraduate enrollment by 21% in the past four years alone. Enrollment across all of Carey’s programs now totals 16,679 students. Adopting the tagline, “Business Is Personal,” she also championed a mission and student-centered culture that reinforced the notion and the commitment that business is a force for good.
Hillman also pioneered several major innovations in the school’s MBA program, with equired applied learning labs that pair our MBAs with graduate students across ASU to on projects with students in engineering, education, bio-design, public programs. She also introduced an Executive Connections program that pairs students with senior executives. Only last year, she introduced a Fast-track MBA, a 12-month MBA program for students with previous master’s degrees in a specific business discipline. Hillman also reengineered the school’s part-time MBA program as a “Professional Flex MBA,” allowing part-timers to take their coursework in person or online for the first time.
When she celebrated the school’s 60th anniversary in 2015, Carey offered 28 undergraduate majors, 14 MBA and master’s programs, and 8 PhD programs. Our advisory boards include 262 corporate partners. Today, the school boasts 37 undergraduate majors, five MBA platforms, 12 specialized master’s programs, and eight PhD programs. Carey’s advisory boards now number 367 corporate partners.
LED ONE OF THE BOLDEST AND UNUSUAL MOVES IN BUSINESS EDUCATION
Most notably, in 2015, Hillman made one of the boldest and unusual moves in business education by deciding to make Carey’s full-time MBA program completely free, with no strings attached. The decision to increase the program’s annual intake of MBA students by 40% to a class size of 120 and to cover the full tuition and fees of every enrolled student. The funding for what she called the “Forward Focus” MBA was largely to come from the original endowment from William Polk Carey, the real-estate investor whose foundation donated a $50 million naming gift to the business school in 2003.
The move led to a dramatic increase in student quality which, in turn, allowed the Carey School to rise in the rankings. Within a year, the school reduced its acceptance rate to just 14.3%, below Wharton’s 19.6% or Kellogg’s 20.1%. The average GMAT score for its latest cohort jumped ten points to 682, just a point below Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, while the average GPA rose to 3.54, a sliver above Dartmouth Tuck School’s level, from 3.37 a year earlier. The upshot: Carey rose 10 spots in a single year to a 25th place finish in U.S. News’ annual MBA ranking, the first time the school made the top 25. Hillman would subsequently scale back the scholarship program but still guaranteed a scholarship to every admitted student.
The only note of thanks for her service came from newly announced interim dean Amy Ostrom, chair of the school’s marketing department. “Amy Hillman has been an exceptional leader to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. She achieved many notable accomplishments during her tenure as dean, including the opening of McCord Hall, the addition of numerous new degree programs to our portfolio, and the attainment of the $150 million capital goal as part of Campaign ASU 2020,” said Ostrom in a statement. She further credited Hillman’s leadership for helping the Carey respond “with resilience and perseverance to the needs of its students during the difficult circumstances of the past year.”
HILLMAN WILL CONTINUE ON THE CAREY FACULTY
In an email to Carey staff and faculty, Provost Mark Searle announced that the process for selecting a new permanent dean will commence early this year. “We expect to conduct a national search welcoming candidates from within and outside the W. P. Carey School,” he wrote.
The statement confirmed that Hillman will remain on the Carey faculty, where she has been “a celebrated teacher and world-renowned researcher.” It made no mention, however, of a new role she was said to play in a Poets&Quants interview with Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, director of graduate student recruitment, in September. Mallen-Churchill said that Hillman would become faculty director of the full-time MBA program after stepping down.
Her research includes over 30 peer-reviewed articles published in leading journals such as Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, and Administrative Science Quarterly. She was elected a fellow of the Academy of Management in 2014. In 2019, Hillman was elected to a five-year term as an executive officer of the Academy of Management, and she was selected as a Strategic Management Society fellow in 2020.
INTERIM DEAN OSTROM TOOK OVER ON JAN. 1
Ostrom’s interim appointment became effective on Jan. 1. even thought the university announcement was made public on Jan. 5. Ostrom has served as the chair of the Department of Marketing since 2015 and as a President’s Professor since 2011. An honors college graduate, she earned her BA in psychology from ASU and a PhD in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She joined the Carey faculty in 1996.
The school’s MBA Class of 2022 tops its predecessors in nearly every measure except for the one that matters: number of students. Last fall’s entering cohort featured 61 students, down from 72 last year and 90 in 2018. That said, the number of applications to W. P. Carey jumped from 439 to 528, a 20% improvement. In addition, the acceptance rate dropped from 31% to 22%. In other words, the class reduction is a strategic decision on the school’s part to boost the quality of the class as a whole.
Average GMAT climbed from 681 to 685 over the past year, with average undergraduate GPA inching up .01 of a point to 3.57, topping public powers like Virginia Darden and Texas McCombs along the way. The most impressive number? 46% — as in the percentage of women in the Class of 2022, up 15 points from the year before. While many business schools have seen their percentage of international students fall by 10%-20% this cycle, W. P. Carey raised it from 32% to 36%.
DON’T MISS: MEET ARIZONA STATE’S MBA CLASS OF 2022 or THE MBA FOR WHAT’S NEXT: AN INTERVIEW WITH AMY HILLMAN
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