Three Top B-Schools Look for New Deans

(Corrects date of Snyder's departure and clarifies that the school's 150% endowment growth under Snyder does not include a $300 million gift from alumnus David Booth.)

When Edward Snyder last December announced his intention to leave the dean's office at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business (Booth Full-Time MBA Profile) at the end of the 2010 school year, it marked the third time in six months that a top-three MBA program lost its leader.Last June the dean of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile), Dipak Jain, announced that he would be leaving the position.Then, in early December, Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile) Dean Jay O. Light followed suit. A week after Light, it was Snyder, marking the first time that the schools ranked one, two, and three in Bloomberg BusinessWeek's ranking of full-time MBA programs have had vacancy signs hanging outside of the dean's office at the same time.

They're three of the most sought-after positions in academia. But the searches come at a difficult time in management education. The global financial crisis has caused many to question the value of a graduate business degree, with some going so far as to place blame for the crisis squarely on the shoulders of business schools for training some individuals who were responsible for the meltdown.At the same time, the number of students with job offers by graduation is down an average of 15% at Kellogg, Chicago, and HBS; international students are struggling to obtain visas and student loans; and endowments have taken large hits, as well.

Stiff challenges all for the new deans, but Glen Urban, a Kellogg alum and dean emeritus at MIT's Sloan School of Management (Sloan Full-Time MBA Profile), says there's opportunity, too. "You're coming in at the bottom, and you can look forward to the future going up, as opposed to entering as things are falling," he says. "If we believe the economy is going to respond in the next couple of years, it's not going to be a bad time to be dean."

Searches are under way at each of the three programs in the hopes of having new deans in place by the start of the academic year in the fall. While the actual salaries deans receive at private institutions such as Chicago, Northwestern, and Harvard are a closely guarded secret, the median salary for business school deans at doctoral institutions like those three tops $260,000, according to a 2009-10 salary survey of 1,280 institutions by the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources.

The Chicago Booth Search

Today we kick off a three-part series appraising the challenges the new deans at each school will face and some of the individuals being thought of as having the skills and qualifications for the positions. The first school we'll look at is Chicago Booth.

When Snyder vacates the dean's office at Chicago in June, he'll leave behind a business school that's in a much better place than it was when he took the position in 2001. In his decade as dean, Snyder has increased the school's endowment by 150%, and landed the biggest single gift to any b-school: a $300 million pledge from alumnus David Booth. He's also enhanced Chicago's global presence and impact, with a planned campus expansion in Singapore and a new campus in London. Snyder, who will be taking over as dean of the Yale School of Management (Yale Full-Time MBA Profile) next year, has also been able to attract and retain elite faculty, a big reason for Chicago's jump to the top of Bloomberg BusinessWeek's MBA rankings. "The job involves dealing with many different constituencies who tend to have different goals and preferences," says Milton Harris, a professor of finance and economics at Booth and chairman of the search committee that found Snyder. "Ted was very good at that."

A seven-faculty-member search committee has been named to identify a suitable replacement, who is expected to be chosen by university President Robert Zimmer. The committee is expected to look for someone with many of the same characteristics that Snyder brought to the position. Among them: a solid academic career and a strong focus on fund-raising and enhancing the school's brand. Harris expects the new dean will also have the Chicago pedigree. "I think there is a preference for someone who knows the school and is familiar with it," he says. A priority for the new dean will be faced to find a way to deal with the effects that the down economy has had on Booth. From 2008 to 2009, the number of students with job offers by graduation dropped 16 percentage points, to 79%, and the school's endowment dipped 23% to $389 million.

Of the names being mentioned by alumni, faculty, and student leaders as suitable candidates to fill the position at Chicago, Mark E. Zmijewski is getting the most attention. Zmijewski, a deputy dean of the part-time MBA program and an accounting professor, has taught at Booth since 1984 and is a founding partner and managing director of Chicago Partners, a fully owned subsidiary of Navigant Consulting (NCI). In his tenure at Booth, Zmijewski has served as executive director of the university's Center for Research in Security Prices and faculty director of the Summer Business Scholars Program aimed at undergraduates. Zmijewski is well-respected in the Booth community and also has the industry background that could come in handy for fund-raising matters.

Despite the buzz. Zmijewski says he's not a candidate. "I'm naturally very honored…However, someone else will better serve the needs of the school as dean," he said in an e-mail. "I am definitely not a candidate."

A New Dean by June

Another person being thought of as dean material by alumni and students is Stacey Kole, an economics professor and deputy dean of the MBA program at Booth. Kole earned both her master's and doctorate in economics from Chicago and worked as associate dean of MBA programs at the University of Rochester's Simon Graduate School of Business (Simon Full-Time MBA Profile) before joining the faculty at Chicago in 2004. Kole sits on the board of directors at the Graduate Management Admission Council and has worked closely with Snyder in corporate outreach, an area of great importance, especially now as more students struggle to find jobs. Kole declined to comment.

One individual who isn't getting as much buzz, but who's being mentioned as a candidate by alumni and other members of the Booth community, is Hassell H. McClellan, associate professor of operations and strategic management at Boston College's Carroll School of Management (Carroll Full-Time MBA Profile). McClellan holds an MBA from Chicago, a doctorate from Harvard, has both industry and academic experience on his résumé, and knows the ins and outs of running a business school, having been dean of Carroll's MBA program from 1996 to 2000. While McClellan isn't a member of the Booth faculty, this isn't a deal-breaker, considering Snyder wasn't on the faculty when he was named dean in 2001. Contacted by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, McClellan was suprised to learn that his name had surfaced in connection with the deanship. "This is the first I heard of it," he said. "I'm flattered—it's a great institution. But I have no knowledge of that whatsoever."

Harris expects the goal is to have a new dean in place by the time Snyder steps down on June 30. "I don't think they want to have to deal with the problem of having an interim dean," he says. A Web site has been created to keep the school's various constituencies up to date with the progress of the search at Booth, but apart from that, very little information has been made available about the search.

In the next installment, coming Monday, we look at the dean search at Harvard, where a search committee is looking for someone to replace Jay Light.