The search for the next Carlson School of Management dean has been narrowed to four finalists, the last of which finished his interviews Tuesday.
Former Carlson School Dean Alison Davis-Blake resigned in August to take the same position at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. A decision on Davis-Blake’s replacement is expected in March.
“The school has been on a very strong upward trajectory,” said Mary Nichols, dean of the College of Continuing Education and chairwoman of the 18-member search committee. “We’re fundamentally looking for a dean who will take it to the next level, who will help the Carlson School to become recognized for being as good as it is.”
Ultimately, the final decision for Carlson’s 12th dean lies in the hands of newly appointed Provost Karen Hanson.
As Hanson’s first significant administration decision, she said she’s taking the time to listen to other people’s advice.
The next Carlson dean needs to be “a respected leader that has a proven track record” with concrete goals for the school and that “has a plan for actualizing those goals,” Hanson said.
She’ll meet with the search committee to get its feedback on the finalists before making a decision. She is also receiving direct feedback from students, faculty and community members who have been encouraged to weigh in on the choice.
Each finalist visited the University of Minnesota for a rigorous two days, which included meetings with top administrators, faculty and students. The candidates also had a public interview on issues facing business schools and their vision for Carlson’s future.
Born and raised in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and currently a deputy dean at the London Business School, Randall Peterson hopes to return to his home state with the coveted dean title.
Peterson got his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural education, animal science and agricultural economics and his Master of Arts in educational psychology from the University.
He went on to earn adoctorate. in social psychology from the University of California-Berkley.
“Although I know the University of Minnesota well,” Peterson said during his public presentation, “I haven’t been here in a few years and obviously the Carlson School has moved on in my time away.”
Peterson has worked at the London Business School for more than 11 years, eight of which he dealt primarily with administrative work.
His current position places him in charge of approximately 200 people, with 60 percent of the school’s budget coming through his office.
Peterson said that bringing Carlson to the “top league” will involve better emphasizing what the school already does well.
In his vision for Carlson, Peterson emphasized continued investment in research and the school’s utilization of the nearby business community.
He said that even the school’s “Minnesota nice” persona is an advantage, which drew laughter during the interview.
“I’ve lived all around the United States and halfway around the world,” Peterson said. “And there aren’t many places that are as pleasant and nice as Minnesota.”
Charles Whiteman has spent more than 30 years at the University of Iowa, serving as the senior associate dean at the Tippie College of Business since 2006.
In 1981, Whiteman earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Minnesota.
In his public presentation, Whiteman discussed expanding online coursework and global opportunities.
He referred to the Carlson School’s position as “virtually privatized” and said he was interested in the concept of a privatized business school in Iowa.
Whiteman also emphasized the need to increase these private donations by partnering more with the Twin Cities business community.
“Find the passion of the donor,” he said during his interview. “And if it’s aligned with what you want to do, great, you can pursue it. They’re eager to give you the money if you have aligned interests.”
Whiteman said Carlson should communicate its student achievements more than it does now.
“I’m very fortunate to be looking at an opportunity where there’s a college that’s probably better than its reputation,” Whiteman said. “That’s a delightful opportunity for an incoming dean because the first thing I get to do is go out and tell the story of a place that’s already more excellent than people think it is.”
Interim Carlson School Dean Srilata Zaheer hopes to hold the position permanently. She holds the Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Global Corporate Social Responsibility and has served as associate dean for faculty and research.
“My story is really the story of the kind of transformation that higher education in the United States and the Carlson School itself can provide,” Zaheer said during her interview.
Zaheer said she was on the “mommy track” 25 years ago, working as a stay-at-home mom for two years. In 1992, she graduated with a doctorate in international management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after which she came to the Carlson School to teach.
Zaheer stressed increasing revenues, first through differential undergraduate tuition that will begin for Carlson students next year and through increasing philanthropy in the business community.
Growing the MBA program through new programs and “quality online MBA” were areas of focus during her presentation. Zaheer also said Carlson needs to grow its tenure-track faculty, noting that Carlson has the lowest student-faculty ratio among the colleges in the University.
“I would like to see this school be recognized for what it is: an incredible crucible of intellectual energy and excitement, which brings the best students, the best scholars and businesses to our doorstep looking for the next big idea,” she said.
Matthew Slaughter is another Minnesota native hoping to return to the state as the next Carlson dean.
Slaughter serves as the associate dean for the MBA program at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. Slaughter’s rÃ©sumÃ© ranges from a current position in research for National Bureau of Economic Research to serving as a consultant for the World Bank.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Notre Dame and his doctorate in the same field from MIT.
Going off-the-cuff without presentation slides, Slaughter addressed the same topic as his competitors, noting the challenges the Carlson School faces. But he said he plans to tackle them with an upbeat attitude.
“I tend to be very optimistic by nature … If you think about the characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories, I tend to be a Tigger,” he said in his presentation. “When I think about the forces shaping business education today, frankly I don’t think they’re very Tigger-ous forces.”
Slaughter discussed the heightened pace of change in the world with globalization, technological change and the financial crisis, noting that they’re both an opportunity and a challenge for the Carlson School.
The school will face competition from international schools sooner than it thinks, he said.
Slaughter stressed the importance of innovation by infusing “a more global mindset” and continuing to focus on critical thinking in the Carlson School curriculum.
“I look at Carlson and I see a very good school that has the opportunity to move into the ranks of truly one of the great global business schools,” he said. “But that’s going to take some purposeful time and focus.”