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Harvard Business School Names New Dean

Harvard Business School (HBS) announced late yesterday that is has named current professor Nitin Nohria as its new dean. Nohria, a professor of leadership and organization, will serve as the school’s 10th dean, assuming the role on July 1st. He replaces Dean Jay Light, who announced his plans to step down seven months ago.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nohria said that he intends as dean to focus on business ethics, a cause he has championed vigorously, especially during the recent financial crisis. Together with HBS professor Rakesh Khurana, he co-authored a 2008 Harvard Business Review article suggesting that managers and management had lost its legitimacy in the past decade and calling for an MBA code of ethics similar to the Hippocratic oath doctors must take. Students at HBS later took up the cause and launched a voluntary MBA Oath, which students at other business schools have also adopted.

“I’ve always maintained that business can be a wonderfully noble position,” Nohria told the Journal. “Student-led initiatives, such as the MBA Oath, are a chance for students to reclaim their honor for the great work they do for society.”

During a conference call yesterday, Nohria said he hopes to help instill more public trust in MBAs. He also indicated that he plans to add to HBS’s iconic case method of teaching. “Case studies are one of the most powerful ways to diagnose and take action,” he said. “But we have been experimenting with learning teams, immersions abroad and even distance learning to see what can complement the case study method.”

Harvard University President Drew Faust conducted the search for HBS’s new dean with input from students, alumni and faculty. This is in contrast to the process at most other schools, where a search committee usually scouts out potential candidates before recommending a finalist. Faust told the Journal that she saw in Nohria someone who was who was well aware of the tremendous scrutiny management is under these days and able to face it head on.

HBS is the third top business school to name a new dean in recent months. Sally Blount, the current dean of New York University’s undergraduate business school, will assume the dean’s role at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business in July. And Ed Snyder, the current dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, will take over as dean of the Yale School of Management in July 2011 after taking a year off. Chicago Booth, for its part, is expected to announce a successor for Snyder in the coming months.

For more on HBS’s new dean, click here.

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Posted in: MBA News