A Big Surprise At IU: Ash Soni Will Do A Two-Year Deanship At The Kelley School

Ash Soni, the long-time executive associate dean at Kelley, will become interim dean on Aug. 1

After putting together a 16-member search committee and hiring a prominent executive search firm, Indiana University has decided to appoint its interim dean to lead the Kelley School of Business for the next two years. Ash Soni, who with former Dean Idalene ‘Idie’ Kesner, made up one of the most successful leadership teams in business education, will convert his interim status to permanent dean immediately.

At a time when nearly a dozen Top 100 U.S. business schools are actively searching for new deans, the Kelley had been one of the biggest opportunities for a viable candidate, given the school’s budget, size, scope and program portfolio. With an annual budget of $230 million, the Kelley boasts 359 faculty, 93 staff, 11,469 undergraduates, and 3,665 graduate students in 30 programs. Instead of bringing in a new successor, the university is doubling down on a sure hand in Soni.

IU, meantime, also announced a change in its leadership structure, putting two vice deans under Soni, one for the main campus in Bloomington and the other for its campus in Indianapolis. Patrick Hopkins,  executive associate dean for academic programs, will get a broader role in Bloomington, while Julie Manning Magid, executive associate dean for Indianapolis, will assume her new position in the school’s satellite campus.


Kelley School of Business dean

Patrick Hopkins will serve as one of two new vice deans at the Kelley School of Business

The promotions set the stage for Kelley to have two leading inside candidates to succeed Soni when he leaves his new position in two years. Hopkins has spent nearly 28 years of his professional life at Kelley, after earning his PhD in accounting from the University of Texas in Austin. He joined Kelley as a full-time accounting professor in 1995 and has since held several leadership roles, as chair of graduate accounting programs and chair of Kelley’s large undergraduate program. For the past nine months, Hopkins has served in his current role as executive associate dean for academic programs.

Magid, a Georgetown and University of Michigan Law School grad, joined the school nearly nine years ago as a venture fellow and then a professor of business law. For the past seven years, she has also served as the executive and academic director of the Tobias Leadership Center. Magid took on her additional role as e

Their Kelley experience in multiple roles make both of them viable candidates for additional grooming, if the university decides not to go outside on its next search. Dean searches at public universities are further complicated by the fact that a university must publicly name several finalists who have to agree to give up their confidentiality to compete for the top job.

The university said that in their new roles, Hopkins and Manning Magid will assume significant responsibilities for operations at each campus, while developing new programs and enhancing collaborations between the two campuses. The appointments are subject to approval by the IU Board of Trustees.


Kelley School dean

Julie Manning Magid is one of two new vice deans at the Kelley School

In many ways, Soni’s appointment is a no-brainer. A professor of operations & decision technologies and a passionate oenophile, Soni joined Kelley in 1981. He has considerable expertise in enterprise systems and applications, emerging technologies, operations research and business analytics, supply chain management, and computer simulation. Soni has served the Kelley School as executive associate dean for academic programs, associate dean of information technology and chair of the operations and decision technologies department. He has been a member of the school’s faculty since 1981, after earning his doctorate and MBA degrees at Kelley.

Yet, his greatest contribution to the school has been in his highly effective partnership with Kesner. He was deeply involved in the school’s branding initiative to gain national and international exposure, the recruitment of faculty, and the oversight of many of the school’s operating details.

“Ash’s leadership has been instrumental in the school’s success and I’m confident he will continue to accelerate Kelley’s stature as one of the nation’s leading business schools,” said IU President Pamela Whitten in a statement. “His team of outstanding leaders will guide Kelley’s implementation of key elements of IU 2030, while also developing new programs and initiatives that reinforce Kelley’s national leadership in business education.”


“To say that I have deep affection for the Kelley School, its remarkable students and devoted faculty and staff would be an understatement,” added Soni in a statement. “I am honored that our university leadership has asked me to continue what has been a lifetime commitment to success at one of the best business schools in the world.”

Kelley School dean

Interim Kelley School of Business Dean Ash Soni is named to a two-year appointment as dean

Yet, his appointment as dean was unexpected. Less than two months after Soni became interim dean, the university in September named a search committee with representatives of faculty, staff, and students and a chairperson in Anastasia (Stacy) Morrone, the dean of the university’s School of Education, and hired headhunters Isaacson, Miller to assist with recruiting candidates. Isaacson Miller Partners Gale Merseth and Vijay Saraswat, as well as Managing Associate Micah Pierce, hosted listening sessions on campus to allow faculty, staff, students and alumni to express their expectations for the next dean.

The search firm then posted a brief for the job and began its search in earnest, with an initial deadline for candidates of Feb. 3 and a preferred start date of July 1. Kelley was expected to announce the finalists from the search, as well as the dates and times of their on-campus presentations, after search committee members did preliminary interviews early in the spring semester.

All of it was for naught, with the best candidate for the job already running the school. Born and raised in Kenya, Soni earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and a Master of Science degree from Strathclyde University in Scotland. His research expertise focuses on enterprise systems and applications, emerging technologies and analytical  applications in supply chain management.

He has received many awards, honors and certificates, including the John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies; Kelley Direct Teaching Program Excellence Award, which he won four times; and the MBA Teaching Excellence Award, for which he was honored 10 times.






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