Kellogg Gets A New Dean for Hard Times

For the first time ever this year, the three top business schools in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking of full-time MBA programs found themselves with vacancies in the dean's office.Last week we launched a three-part series examining the dean searches at No.1 University of Chicago's Booth School of Business (Booth Full-Time MBA Profile), No.2 Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile), and No.3 Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile). In the first two installments, we described the challenges the new deans will face at Chicago Booth and Harvard and identified some people being mentioned by alumni, students, and faculty as suitable contenders for those posts. Today, in the third and final installment, we turn to Kellogg, where a new dean was named this week.

On Tuesday, Northwestern Provost Daniel I. Linzer announced that Sally Blount, the dean of the undergraduate college and vice-dean of the New York University Stern School of Business (NYU Stern Undergraduate Business Profile), will be the next dean of the Kellogg School of Management.

Blount is a bold choice for Kellogg—a master fund-raiser at a time when Kellogg's endowment sustained annual losses of 26% in 2009 and a curriculum innovator with a global bent and extensive international experience at a time when Kellogg is seeking to continue extending its global reach. "Dean Blount brings a remarkable combination of strong academic achievement and proven administrative experience at both the business school and university levels," Linzer said in a statement.

Outside Consulting

Blount, who holds a PhD from Kellogg, has been at Stern since 2001, teaching courses in management, negotiations, and ethics. Before Stern, she was on the faculty at Chicago Booth, where she taught both MBA and executive education courses. Blount also has experience outside academia, working as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

For Blount, 48, the Kellogg position was a natural. She cites three reasons for taking the job. "One was a chance to return to my intellectual home," she says. "Another is this deep value of collaboration that Kellogg has. The third was this amazing match with the skill sets I've been developing throughout my career, especially as an administrator at NYU."

Beginning in July, Blount replaces interim dean Sunil Chopra and assumes the position being vacated by Dipak Jain, who announced in June that he was stepping down after eight years as dean. Jain, who plans to return to teaching at Kellogg after a one-year leave of absence, was highly regarded at Kellogg and beyond.

As dean, Jain focused on expanding Kellogg's global reach through both international course requirements for MBAs and new partnerships with the Guanghua School of Management in Beijing and the Schulich School of Business (Schulich Full-Time MBA Profile) at York University in Toronto. Jain also spearheaded efforts to update the curriculum and established an executive MBA program in Miami.

International Scope

His successor is equally adept on the global stage. Under her guidance, NYU started two new global degree options that require students to spend several semesters abroad in London, Asia, and Latin America. In 2007, she was appointed by NYU's president and provost as their special adviser for global academic integration. In that capacity, Blount is working to create the infrastructure needed to transform NYU into a large-scale, globally networked research university. She travels extensively, lecturing academic and business audiences. And her past corporate clients include many global companies, including L'Oreal, Goldman Sachs (GS), and Pfizer (PFE).

In Kellogg, Blount inherits a school in the midst of a $250 million capital campaign to raise funds for a new building and one that, like many, is struggling to place grads in a weakened economy. In 2008, 95% of Kellogg students had jobs by graduation. In 2009, the number fell to 76%. The school's endowment dropped 26%, to $556 million, over the same period.

Blount will be expected to keep up relationships with employers in the hopes of turning the placement numbers around and put her fund-raising skills to good use. At NYU, Blount set fund-raising records and helped secure a $20 million gift from John Paulson, a New York hedge fund manager. She has also led Stern through a five-year, 100,000-square-foot, $40 million donor-funded renovation of the undergraduate campus.

Influencing "Generations to Come"

Peter Henry, the dean at NYU Stern, understands just what Kellogg found in Sally Blount—and just what NYU lost. "In her tenure as dean of Stern's undergraduate college, Sally transformed the academic and co-curricular experiences, led the most significant renovation of the undergraduate facilities in the college's history, and launched the first fully-integrated global studies program," he said in a statement. "Sally's legacy will benefit students and our community at large for generations to come."

Tom Cooley, dean emeritus at Stern, says Blount is a great fit for Northwestern and its global ambitions. "Sally Blount is an extraordinarily energetic and articulate leader," he says. "She has a compelling vision for business education that will fit well with a school like Kellogg that has extended its brand and influence around the world."

The 12-member search committee that chose Blount was looking for a candidate who knows Kellogg's values and strengths. "It's important that they understand the institution," said professor Janice Eberly, who chaired the panel, in an interview before the new dean was announced. "There is agreement from all our constituencies that the individual should highly value Kellogg and their stake in it, but they should also see the opportunity to push forward and go to a higher level." Clearly, the search committee found that in Blount. Eberly, in the announcement, cited Blount's "vision, perspective, and experience" as reasons why she rose to the top of the candidate list.

Blount also brings something else to the table: undergraduate business experience. As dean of the Stern undergraduate college since 2004, she has experience that will be invaluable should Kellogg ever offer an undergraduate business degree. Currently it does not. While Blount says she hasn't discussed the addition of an undergraduate degree with school administrators, she doesn't rule out the possibility. "That's up to the faculty and university," she says. "We'll certainly engage in those dialogues."

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