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Datar to Serve as Harvard Business School's Next Dean

Harvard Business School professor Srikant M. Datar, who currently serves as the school’s Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs, will become the Business School's next dean in January 2021.
Harvard Business School professor Srikant M. Datar, who currently serves as the school’s Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs, will become the Business School's next dean in January 2021. By Courtesy of Harvard Business School
By Ellen M. Burstein, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Business School professor Srikant M. Datar, who currently serves as the school’s Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs, will become HBS’s next dean, University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced Friday.

Datar joined the Business School faculty in 1996. He has since served in a number of high-level administrative roles, including as a senior associate dean responsible for faculty recruiting, for faculty development, for executive education, for research, and currently for University affairs.

Before his time at the Business School, Datar, a native of India, received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Bombay. He later earned a postgraduate diploma in business management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, as well as master’s degrees in statistics and economics and a Ph.D. in business from Stanford University. He has also served on the faculty at the Carnegie Mellon Graduate School of Industrial Administration as well as the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

As a member of the faculty, Datar has played a role in developing several new academic programs for Business School students. He helped launch the school’s joint M.S.-MBA program in biotechnology and life sciences, as well as the M.S.-MBA in engineering sciences. His own research interests have spanned a wide range of fields, from cost management and control to design thinking and artificial intelligence.

Datar will replace current dean Nitin Nohria, who assumed the role in 2010. Nohria was originally set to step down in June; he later elected to extend his tenure by six months due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bacow praised Datar’s professional accomplishments and personal demeanor in a press release.

“He is a leading thinker about the future of business education, and he has recently played an essential role in HBS’s creative response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served with distinction in a range of leadership positions over his nearly 25 years at HBS, while also forging novel collaborations with other Harvard Schools,” Bacow said.

“He is also a warm, generous, and thoughtful colleague and mentor — someone whose leadership experience, intimate knowledge of HBS, deep devotion to the institution, and talent for catalyzing constructive change all promise to serve the School and the University well, at a pivotal moment for business education,” Bacow added.

University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 credited Datar for his intimate understanding of the Business School.

“He consistently builds bridges across disciplines and organizations, he understands HBS’s challenges and opportunities, and he has his sights set firmly on its success in a time of disruptive change,” Garber said in the press release.

Datar said in the release that he was “equal measures humbled and honored” to become the school’s next dean.

“Harvard Business School is an institution with a remarkable legacy of impact in research, education, and practice. Yet the events of the past year have hastened our passage to an unforeseen future. I look forward to working with colleagues and friends of the School — including throughout Harvard, in our Boston community, and around the world — to realize our mission in what undoubtedly will be an exciting new era,” Datar said.

Datar will take the helm of the Business School at a time when it is publicly grappling with its history of racial and gender inequities. In September, the school launched an “Action Plan for Racial Equity,” which established a new role for a diversity officer, as well as committees that will seek to recruit Black students and faculty and promote anti-racist research.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likewise posed challenges for the Business School, which has struggled with declining revenues from its executive education programs. The Business School is the only one of Harvard’s 12 degree-granting schools currently offering in-person instruction.

Datar will begin his tenure on Jan. 1, 2021.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at ellen.burstein@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.

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