On a sweltering July morning, under a white tent pitched on a compact lawn, London Business School Dean John Quelch presided over the first of two graduation ceremonies. The school's success — a class with 596 MBAs, other Masters graduates, and PhDs from 59 countries — forced the addition of a second graduation ceremony to the day's schedule.
Quelch outlined the year's accomplishments: the establishment of a new office in Silicon Valley, a growing alumni base, and 21 additional faculty members, 15 of whom arrived in the fall of 2000. From the air of promise in his voice, few in the crowd could have realized that Quelch was entering his final year at the school whose reputation he had done so much to enhance.
Yes, another B-school dean has decided to hang up his hat. This time, however, it isn't an older dean at a U.S. school, like the ones who departed Michigan, Kellogg, and Chicago in 2000. It was the young gun from London. In July, 2001, after three years as dean, John Quelch's resignation will take effect when he leaves the school to tend to family matters in the U.S. LBS sent the resignation letter via e-mail to staff, faculty, and students on Jan. 5.
Quelch, 49, brought a bustling new approach, and a distinctly American style, to the dean's office by focusing on strategic initiatives that boosted London's revenues and raised its international profile. In three years, the former professor of marketing and co-chair of the Marketing Dept. at Harvard Business School managed to increase revenues by 50%.
Because he put a serious emphasis on enticing alumni to take a more active role in the life of the school — and, of course, to feed its growing endowment. There are now 35 alumni associations around the world. The school didn't have any when he arrived. One alumnus donated office space in Silicon Valley for visiting students and faculty to set up camp. Quelch also revamped the Career Management Service, which had gone without a director for more than two years.
Unavailable for comment, Quelch said in a statement that "serving London Business School has been an extraordinary privilege" and thanked his colleagues for helping "to enhance the school's academic standards and global reputation, increase student and faculty quality and numbers to record levels."
Vanni Treves, chairman of the London Business School Governing Body, hailed Quelch for his "enormous impact . . . raising its international profile and confirming the school's position in the premier league of business schools." Business Week's 2000 survey rankings confirm the impression, ranking London as the No. 2 B-school outside the U.S. — the first year overseas schools were rated.
On Jan. 8, Dean Carlos Cavalle of Spain's IESE, ranked No. 3 by Business Week in 2000, also announced that he'll be leaving this year. The 17-year dean will leave the B-school, which is part of the University of Navarra, in June, 2001.
London's board of governors will form a search committee immediately, the school says, and expects to find a replacement for Quelch before the start of the 2001 fall term. Whoever that successor is, the B-school community will be watching carefully to see if London Business School's momentum continues.
By Mica Schneider in London