New dean brings experience to school at a crossroads

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As the Yale School of Management strives to break into the top tier of global business schools, University President Richard Levin announced Wednesday the appointment of Edward A. Snyder — currently the dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business — as SOM’s next dean, effective July 2011.

“The committee and I had no doubts that he was the best candidate in the pool by far,” Levin said.

Ted Snyder will become the next dean of SOM in July 2011.
Ted Snyder will become the next dean of SOM in July 2011.
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Snyder’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment, with SOM transforming its curriculum and preparing to break ground on a new campus. Administrators and members of the faculty search committee said they hope Snyder will improve SOM’s global profile, just as he did at Chicago, where he oversaw the doubling of Booth’s endowment, the tripling of scholarship aid to students and the school’s expansion into Singapore and London.

“We’re counting on [Snyder] to continue SOM’s upward trajectory,” Deputy Provost Charles Long said Wednesday. “With this appointment, you’ve got some momentum.”

At the same time, those behind Snyder’s appointment said they expect him to continue the school’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and preserving tight-knit relationships between students and faculty.

Snyder will replace Sharon Oster, who stepped into the post after Joel Podolny abruptly resigned in October 2008 to become dean and vice president of Apple University, the technology giant’s management training program. Oster will continue to serve as dean until July 2011 while Snyder takes a sabbatical.

In interviews Wednesday, more than 10 administrators and faculty praised Oster’s steady leadership; she has pushed planning for the new campus forward and helped to revamp the school’s curriculum by expanding interdisciplinary course offerings. But she only agreed to stay on as dean until a long-term replacement for Podolny could be found, explaining to Levin that she enjoyed being a teacher and researcher more than being an administrator, she said Wednesday.

“It’s been an interesting job,” Oster said. “But I made it clear that I was not interested in this job for any longer than the school needed me.”

Snyder, who was en route to New Haven on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, will meet SOM students and faculty on campus today, SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde said.

A ‘HOME RUN’

Levin hired Snyder after an exhaustive yearlong, worldwide search that considered more than 50 candidates from both the corporate and academic worlds. From the start, members of the search committee said, Snyder stood out as a strong and flexible manager who engages easily with faculty and students, and one who has a proven track record as the dean of both Booth and, before that, the University of Virginia Darden School of Management.

The appointment is a “home run” for Yale, said Ravi Dhar, a professor of management who served on the search committee.

Since joining the University of Chicago’s business school in 2001, Snyder oversaw a number of changes, including the move to the school’s new Hyde Park campus, a doubling of endowed professorships and a tripling of scholarship assistance available to MBA students. Under his leadership, the school has doubled its endowment, expanded its presence in Singapore and China and established a new campus in London. In 2008, the Chicago business school also received a $300 million gift — the largest in its history — from alumnus David Booth and his family.

Snyder has also personally been involved in helping to cut faculty teaching loads while increasing retention rates and salaries and increasing opportunities available to students, said Marvin Zonis ’58, a professor emeritus at the Booth School of Business.

Few in business school circles believed Snyder would leave Booth, and it took some convincing to bring him to New Haven, Levin said. Still, Dhar said, Yale was able to woo him by pointing to SOM’s tradition of collaborating with the rest of the University’s schools. By contrast, other business schools, including Booth, tend to be less integrated with the rest of the university, Dhar said. In addition, he added, Snyder was attracted by Yale’s globalization efforts.

Snyder announced last month that he would leave Chicago after meeting the school’s two five-year term limits.

Though they had few, if any, doubts about Snyder’s qualifications, members of the search committee said they recognized that SOM and Booth differ substantially not only in size, but also educational philosophy.

FROM CHICAGO TO NEW HAVEN

Despite his successes at Booth, none of the dozen SOM students interviewed Wednesday said they knew of Snyder prior to the announcement of his appointment. But after learning more about his career, students said they became impressed by his list of accomplishments. Still, many said they were concerned for the future of SOM under Snyder, given the school’s relatively small size and focus on work in the public sector — features that differentiate SOM from Booth.

One student, Prem Tumkosit SOM ’11, said he had not heard of Snyder but thinks the appointment is an opportunity to strengthen SOM.

“He has big shoes to fill after Sharon Oster,” he said.

A.J. Calbert SOM ’11 said he is worried Snyder’s experience at the larger Booth may undermine SOM’s focus on non-profit and social work, which he believes is unique among management school programs.

At 3,100 students, Booth’s student population dwarfs that of SOM, which enrolled 223 in the class of 2011.

Booth has a more traditional, rationalist approach to economics, Oster said, whereas Yale’s curriculum is more interdisciplinary. In addition, Booth focuses on preparing students for the business world, Levin said.

“The premise at Yale is to educate people to be leaders in business,” he said. “But also to be conscious of business’s interaction with the wider society.”

Oster said she expects Snyder to succeed in the role because he is not only aware of the tasks awaiting him but also brings wide knowledge and experience in the operations of variety of different business schools.

Zonis, the retired Booth professor, said Snyder is willing to change his opinions and has always been dedicated to preserving the interests of students, faculty and alumni.

“Snyder is in many ways like the perfect politician,” said Jim Baron, chair of the faculty search committee. “He has broad strategic interests and likes to be among his constituents. He is not doctrinaire.”

TEN YEARS OR MORE

When he arrives on campus in 2011, Snyder’s first priorities will include forging connections with the deans and faculty of other Yale schools and helping the SOM faculty continue to develop the school’s curriculum, Levin said.

If his tenure at Chicago is any indication, Snyder will also turn his attention to fundraising and increasing on-campus recruitment of students by elite companies and financial firms. SOM’s finances are already stable, thanks to a prudent budget management strategy over the past few years, Provost Long said.

But perhaps most importantly, said SOM professor Roger Ibbotson, Snyder’s arrival in New Haven will bring long-awaited stability to SOM. Oster said she expects Snyder to stay for 10 years or more.

In its early years, the school experienced tumultuous debate over what kinds of degrees it should offer and what type of research it would conduct, said Ibbotson, also the chairman of the hedge fund Zebra Capital Management. Though those questions have since been resolved, Ibbotson said, Podolny’s departure disrupted the school again.

“Frankly, we were all really shocked by that quick departure,” Ibbotson said. “We’ve had a somewhat rocky historyb but I think everything is settling down now, and we’re actually in great shape to go forward.”

Nora Caplan-Bricker, Sam Greenberg and Drew Henderson contributed reporting.

Comments

  • Doubting Thomas YC

    SOM’s string of prior “big shot” deans failed to eliminate its inexplicable Non-Profit emphasis, resulting in its current #24 ranking by Business Week. With or without the new dean from Chicago, SOM will remain a third-tier school as long as it stubbornly refuses to commit to the traditional b-school model. This is not rocket science.

  • DSeu

    I don’t think he is coming here to lose — he is coming here to make a bigger win!!