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Alison Davis-Blake Named First Female Business School Dean at University of Michigan

Alison Davis-Blake has been named the new dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, effective Aug. 22.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity," says Davis-Blake, the current dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. "I think the Ross School is a great school and has a strong history that I hope to build on."

In a statement, University of Minnesota President Mary Sue Coleman says that Davis-Blake is an exceptional choice to lead Ross in the future.

"Alison Davis-Blake is a known leader with strong ties to business communities," Coleman says. "I am particularly impressed with her commitment to international experiences for students. Her strengths align perfectly with the mission of the Ross School to train leaders in thought and action."

Davis-Blake will become the first female business school dean at Michigan.

"Symbolically, it's very important to have women in team leadership roles because it makes a statement about what is possible for others who are interested in the profession," says Davis-Blake. "While, substantially, in terms of the work that we'll do together at Michigan, it's not so important that I am a woman, symbolically, but it says something about where we are at as a society and what is possible for other women moving forward."

Davis-Blake has served as the business school dean at Minnesota where she is the Investors in Leadership Distinguished Chair in Organizational Behavior. From 1990 to 2006, she rose through the professorial ranks to become the Eddy C. Scurlock Centennial Professor of Management and senior associate dean for academic affairs (2003-06) at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas.

She says it was a difficult decision to leave the University of Minnesota. "It's a very bittersweet moment for me. I have been very happy here at Minnesota and very proud of the work that we accomplished together with faculty, staff, alumni and supporters, so yes it's hard to leave."

After earning a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University in 1979, Davis-Blake worked as an auditor in the New York City office of Touche Ross and Co. She earned her master's degree in organizational behavior from Brigham Young in 1982 and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Stanford University in 1986. She then joined Carnegie Mellon University as an assistant professor of industrial administration before going to Texas in 1990.

Her research interests include the effects of outsourcing on organizations and employees, organizational promotion systems, and determinants and consequences of contingent worker use and organizational wage structures.

In a press release, Jerry Davis, professor of management and organizations and head of the Ross School's Dean Search Advisory Committee, says that the committee liked Davis-Blake's depth of experience as a sitting dean at a business school with a full range of degree programs.

"She impressed the committee with her grasp of the broad competitive landscape of business education, its future trends, and the factors that distinguish Ross from the other top schools," he says.

In her spare time, Davis-Blake enjoys musical theater, global travel, and spending time with her husband and two sons, one a college freshman at Stanford and the other a sophomore in high school.