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Harvard Gets a New Dean, for Now

By Francesca Di Meglio Jay O. Light, the Dwight P. Robinson Jr., professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston, will take over as acting dean at HBS on Aug. 1, following the departure of Kim B. Clark, the school says.

In early June Clark, a devout Mormon, abruptly announced that he would be leaving the school to take over at Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University-Idaho, after being offered the new job by Gordon Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see BW Online, 6/6/05, "Harvard's Case Study in Surprise").

"WIDELY ADMIRED." Light, 63, has a 35-year-long history with HBS and, therefore, wasn't a surprising choice for temporary leader. For the past seven years, he has been the senior associate dean and director of Planning & Development, a role that had him working closely with Clark on strategic planning. He has taught investment management, capital markets, entrepreneurial finance, and negotiating ventures.

" widely admired within and beyond Harvard for his intelligence and judgment, his organizational savvy, and his devotion to HBS and to Harvard as a whole," Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers wrote in a letter to the HBS community on June 30.

In 1963, Light earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics at Cornell University, and in 1970 he received his doctorate from Harvard's joint HBS-Economics program in decision and control theory. From 1977 to 1979, Light took a leave of absence from Harvard to serve as director of Investment & Financial Policies for the Ford Foundation, a private nonprofit group that aims to strengthen democracy and reduce poverty around the world.

SUMMERS' CALL. Upon Light's return to HBS in 1979, the school granted him tenure. Since then, he has served the B-school in a variety of roles including chairman of the Finance Area and director of Faculty Planning. Light wasn't immediately available for comment.

Light was also chosen to serve on the advisory group for Clark's permanent replacement, a process that usually takes at least a year. Thirteen professors from HBS, including Dwight Crane, Robert Kaplan, and Cynthia Montgomery, will be joined by two faculty members from other Harvard programs: Mahzarin Banaji (psychology) and Jeremy Stein (economics). Summers, who is also on the advisory group, has the final say in all dean-level appointments.

When Summers announced Clark's departure, he indicated that the next dean will most likely come from within the ranks at HBS. Various reports have indicated that Srikant M. Datar, an accounting professor at HBS since 1996 and senior associate dean of executive education, is among the front-runners (see BW Online, 6/16/05, "Harvard B-school's Dean List").

The century-old HBS is the nation's richest program, with an endowment of $1.8 billion. It's also thought of as the preeminent source for business scholarship. Whoever wins the prize of being HBS's next dean will have quite a reputation to maintain -- on campus and in the wider business community. Di Meglio is a reporter for BusinessWeek Online in Fort Lee, N.J.

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