Dean Steve Reinemund sets the standard for business schools hiring top execs

8.3.2010 Article, General, School News


In Search of Deans, B-Schools Eye Top ExecsTwo U.S. business schools have tapped former chief executive officers as deans. What do "corporate deans" bring to the table?
Originally Posted on Monday, August 2, 2010 | By Alison Damast
Reposted from BusinessWeek

Search committees at business schools are increasingly considering chief executive officers for top administrative positions, with two business schools in Boston and New York recently tapping former CEOs to head up their schools as deans.

This week, Kenneth Freeman, the former CEO of Quest Diagnostics Inc. (DGX), a Teterboro (N.J.)-based provider of medical testing services, is starting his new role as dean of Boston University School of Management (BU Full-Time MBA Profile). Neil Braun, the former CEO of Viacom Entertainment (VIA) and former president of NBC Television Network, joined Pace University's Lubin School of Business (Lubin Full-Time MBA Profile) as dean on July 1.
The two men join a handful of American business schools that have tapped corporate executives as deans in the past five years, including Wake Forest University's Schools of Business (Wake Forest Full-Time MBA Profile) in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business (Fisher Full-Time MBA Profile) in Columbus. These schools are recruiting outside academia in an attempt to raise their visibility, differentiate themselves from competitors, and bring a more business-style approach to running the institution, says Dan King, executive director of the American Association of University Administrators, a nonprofit in Stoughton, Mass., that offers programs and services for university administrators.

"That kind of narrow and bounded perception of what deans do has changed really dramatically, so now in many places there is really a heightened expectation that the dean should be the public face of the school," said King.


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In 2008, Wake Forest University's Schools of Business appointed Steve Reinemund, former CEO of PepsiCo (PEP), the beverage and snack-food company based in Purchase, N.Y., as dean. He quickly used his management background to help implement change at the school, he said in a telephone interview on July 27.

About a month after he arrived, he hired a management consulting firm that in 90 days helped the school revamp its system for performance reviews and salary increases for professors, giving faculty the option of deciding whether they want to spend more time on teaching or research. Under his leadership, the school has launched a new Master of Arts in Management program for undergraduates with liberal arts backgrounds who are considering business careers. He's also helped raise money for a new building that will house both the school's graduate and undergraduate programs; the school has received $25 million so far for the new building and expects to raise an additional $20 million by the end of the year, Reinemund said.

"We have a very aggressive provost and president at Wake Forest, so the school has a strong desire to continue to get better," he said. "It's been every bit as challenging as any corporate experience I've ever had."

Combination Doesn't Always Work

Sometimes the partnership between the former-executive-turned-dean and the business school doesn't work out, as has been the case most recently in Europe, where three business schools have moved away from the CEO-to-dean model, said AACSB's Fernandes. John Wells, the former chief financial officer for Pepsi Europe, stepped down this summer as president of IMD (IMD Full-Time MBA Profile), a business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, after just 16 months in the job, the Financial Times reported on June 25. He has since been replaced by Dominique Turpin, a French professor of management and strategy at the school, as interim president, the school said in a news release on its website on July 1.

London Business School (LBS Full-Time MBA Profile) found itself in a similar situation not too long ago, when Robin Buchanan, a former senior partner at the global consultancy Bain & Co., stepped down as dean in January 2009 after 16 months in the role; he was replaced by Sir Andrew Likierman, a longtime professor at the school, according to a Dec. 22, 2008, press release on the London Business School website.

On July 9, the Financial Times reported that Dipak Jain, the former dean at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile), will be taking over as dean of INSEAD (INSEAD Full-Time MBA Profile), the business school with campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. He'll be replacing Frank Brown, who spent 26 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers, before joining the school in 2006. Brown is expected to step down at the end of his five-year term in 2011, according to the Financial Times article. INSEAD has not yet made an announcement about a new dean.

"Schools may be tempted to bring in someone that is proven in a professional capacity, but they don't always work out," Fernandes said. "A lot of 'corporate deans,' as they call them, crash and burn mostly because the environment is so different and faculty, as independent contractors, don't always have to march to the dean's drum."