B-School Dean Begins Changes

Clark Pursues Technology Initiatives

After only two weeks on the job, new Dean of the Business School Kim B. Clark '74 has already started utilizing his experience with technology and product development to implement significant changes at the school.

"I want it to become a truly outstanding school...not just against the standard set by others but against our potential," Clark said in an interview Monday morning from the conference room next to his Morgan Hall office. "I hope that when the president thinks of us he gets a nice warm feeling in his heart."

According to Clark, in the two weeks since he assumed the deanship he has launched several new technology initiatives. And later this week he will announce a restructuring of the personnel and organization of Harvard Business School (HBS) as part of implementing his overall vision of the school.

Such great changes after only two weeks in office are unusual. And the new dean attributes his ability to take on so much in just two weeks to the ideas his faculty has built up over time.

"We've been on hold so they've been chaffing at the bit," Clark said in his calm, yet energetic manner. "It's like taking a bunch of world-class thoroughbreds with great jockeys and not lifting the up the gate. My job is to say what track we are going to run on, what's the objective and then pull the lever."

Technology

The Business School has been subject to much criticism in the press that it has fallen behind the cutting edge of business education. And when he assumed the deanship last month, even Clark said he believed the school's technology was lagging and that he hoped to "speed things up."

"There is no question that this place is behind but it won't take us long at all to catch up," he said. "And then we'll forge ahead."

To that end the school will be moving to an Internet based-communications system in January. The system will give students their own Internet accounts forever. In addition all alumni will be given permanent Internet addresses.

Clark said once this is accomplished the school will have gone from being behind other parts of the University in providing Internet access to taking the lead.

The school has previously given students e-mail and Internet access through the America Online service.

He added the effort had been fairly easy. "It took about a day for it to come together. We got the right people working on it and communicating...and we launched it.

Other technology efforts already underway in this area include the installation of computer terminals in Kresge and Shad Halls to provide students with easier Internet access.

The dean attributed the school's present technological lag to the timing of the popularization of the World Wide Web.

"The web became popular in the last three years at a time when the Business School was in a holding pattern because [former Dean John H. McArthur] was waiting for his successor to be named," Clark said. "John didn't want to commit for the future without knowing who would be here."

"My intent is that in the not too distant future when people ask 'where should we go to see the best of educational technology?,' it will he HBS," he added. "A Harvard MBA will mean unparalleled fluency in business technology."

Other Changes

In addition, Clark said that on Thursday he will be announcing major changes in the school's personnel and organization designed to move more responsibility to the smaller units of the school

"[We want to] involve more people in the basic decisions of running the school...to help to foster creativity and stimulate this intellectually rich and vibrant community," Clark said.

These changes are partially the result of his research on product development which has taught him to "put responsibility as close to the action as possible, to give people closest real ownership."

According to the dean, the promised changes are part of a broad-based look at the way the school works. Changes, he said, will occur primarily in the planning and research areas of the school.

Another area that Clark said he has already begun new initiatives in is external communications.

"We've been working on making changes in terms of how to deal with the media," he said. "We're trying to work on how we tell our story to the world."

Other changes that are on the horizon include an attempt to be more open with the school community.

And the party the school threw last Friday for its entire community is an early example of these plans. "We a had a fabulous party for deans, faculty and staff and we had never done it before," Clark said.

First Days

Despite the flood of work which has greeted the new dean he said that he is having "a lot of fun," and his fit and energetic appearance belie that outlook. It appeared that the creases which often form across deans' brows have not yet set in.

"Day 15," Clark said as he walked into the interview. And when asked if it felt like day 100, answered, "No, only day 15."

"It's a little like drinking out of a fire-hose... There are literally eight or 10 important things to be done every day and not rest, no chunk of time to sit and reflect," he added.

Since the new dean took office at the beginning of this month, former dean McArthur spent a lot of time going over all the things he would have to deal with--many of which were a surprise.

"I said to him 'You mean you have to deal with that?' Things like buildings, grounds real estate, community relations...are all things you don't may much attention to as a faculty member," Clark said.

"This is really like running a small college," he added.

Though it is obviously too early to evaluate if Clark's approach is successful, he believes that so far his changes have been well received.

"I think there has been a widespread positive response about what I've been doing," he said. "I feel a sense of energy in the community."

The reaction to Thursday's announcement should be a major test of how far the good will goes.

Across the University

HBS has traditionally been very distant from the University, but Clark hopes to "make the river less of a barrier."

"I'd like to strengthen our involvement in intellectual life of the University," he said. "[I want to] be a part of the greatest University in the world, contribute to it and capitalize on it."

Of particular interest to College students, the new dean hinted that there could be a closer relationship between undergraduates and the school in the future.

In the past, students in FAS and other schools of the University complained of the difficulty in cross-registering in HBS classes and using others of the schools resources.

"We need to look at undergraduate education and the trade or professional schools...and see if there is some opportunity for our faculty," Clark said. "Undergraduate education is an issue near and dear to my heart."

Clark also said he saw greater involvement ahead with FAS faculty members in economics, sociology, engineering and computer science.

In addition, the school plans to be involved in University-wide programs like health care and the dean cited the Kennedy School of Government as a specific example of a graduate school with which he believed there would be future work.

Central Administration

Along with increased academic cooperation with students in other parts of the University, Clark said he sees a closer relationship with the school and Harvard's central administration ahead.

The biggest administrative issue facing most deans is the University-wide on-going $2.1 billion capital campaign, which McArthur had always been hesitant about his involvement in.

According to Clark, he sympathizes with both the both the former dean's and the University's perspectives.

"I understand both the University's need for the campaign and the Business School's need to think of this as a yearly thing," he said. "Our involvement with our alumni is not episodic. We keep involvement and contact throughout their entire lives."

Clark added that the biggest challenge now facing the school in terms of alumni connections is finding methods to build bridges with young alumni.

In his first dealings with the central administration Clark said that things were going well.

He said that his two meetings which included the deans had been very useful and that he really "hit it off" with Rudenstine with whom he shared come "deep convictions on the nature of the place.