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Search Underway for New HBS Dean

Students, faculty, and alumni offer advice to Faust on choice of leader

By Tara W. Merrigan, Crimson Staff Writer

Responding to University President Drew G. Faust’s call for input on the ongoing search to replace Harvard Business School Dean Jay O. Light, student and alumni have stressed the importance of building the school’s global presence and staying relevant going forward.

Faust intends to appoint Light’s successor by the end of the academic year, when he will step down after leading the school for five years, during which time he shepherded the Business School through last year’s budget cuts and the completion of a $600 million capital campaign.

Led by Ann M. Kelly, president of the school’s alumni association, the Business School Alumni Board stressed in an open letter published last month the importance of maintaining the school’s global brand and adapting to the “ever changing world” to stay relevant.

“A new Dean will face the very difficult challenge of leading forward an institution steeped in history and tradition in a future world that may not value our current core competencies,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly added in an interview with The Crimson yesterday that alumni recognize the ongoing challenge of addressing the “changing dynamic of the business school education.”

“A lot more people are not going back to school for an MBA,” Kelly said. “How do we make sure the next 100 years are as successful if not more so than the last 100? It’s a tall order certainly.”

The alumni open letter follows a public endorsement published online Jan. 31 by eight members of the Class of 2009, who urged Faust to name Business School professor Nitin Nohria as Light’s successor.

Praising Nohria’s questioning attitude and visionary outlook, the students pointed to their experience working with him to lead the MBA Oath movement, a pledge to act ethically in the business world taken by over 1900 students at business schools across the country starting last year.

“Professor Nohria is focused on all aspects of the school,” said Jessica R. Schmidt, a member of the Class of 2009 who worked on the endorsement letter. “He is not only interested in maintaining the image of the school, but also doing real work to make HBS an even better institution.”

Nohria declined to comment on the endorsement at this time.

Late last month, Faust met with a group of approximately 20 Business School students to discuss their concerns, which ranged from improving inter-school coordination—specifically difficulties in cross-registering for courses at the University’s other graduate schools—to expanding international academic opportunities, according to M. Scott Daubin, Harvard Business School Student Association co-president.

Faust said in a Feb. interview with The Crimson that she has also been meeting with faculty members and leaders at other business schools to discuss challenges the new dean will face.

“This is a time of a lot of discussion about what business education should be,” Faust said.

-Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at

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