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Changing Role of Business School Deans

As the complex business of running an MBA program changes with the times, the profile for the ideal business school dean is shifting along with it, according to a Dec. 30 article in US News and World Report. B-schools are facing new challenges including flatlined enrollment numbers, international expansion, and economic pressures, and many MBA programs are embracing a new kind of leadership as a result, the article reports.

The role of business school dean is becoming increasingly closer to that of CEO than typical college administrator, says the article. In order to stay competitive in today's market, business schools must embrace innovation and restructuring, according to a report by the Korn/Ferry Group that is referenced in the article. Therefore, b-schools are looking for deans who understand how to build the school's ranking, maintain relationships with stakeholders, and project a positive image for the school as its representative.

"Deans are divisional managers who run a business that had better make a profit to generate the investment capital we need," said Alison Davis-Blake, dean of University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, in the article. "We have multiple lines of business -- tuition and non-degree lines of business -- that need to be managed as a portfolio."

Attracting new students is of particular importance, as the traditional two-year MBA program expands into forms like the accelerated one-year MBA, online MBA, and global MBA. Business school deans also need to be able to focus on innovative strategies to attract a diverse student body and set their b-school program apart from the competition.