New SOM dean visits campus

Edward Snyder, who was named the next dean of the School of Management Wednesday, arrived on campus Thursday with bold aspirations, if few specific ideas.

Speaking at an SOM town hall meeting Thursday, Snyder — who is currently the dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business — said he hopes to continue the work of current SOM Dean Sharon Oster, especially in pushing for the construction of the SOM’s new campus. He said he is leaving Chicago because he wanted to remain in an administrative position at a business school and because there is an unofficial two-term limit for the Booth deanship.

No caption.
Snigdha Sur
No caption.

“By all accounts [Snyder] is widely regarded as the very best business school dean in the nation,” Levin said at the town hall meeting, adding that Snyder was the search committee’s top choice from early on in the search process.

Kevin Murphy, a Booth School professor who co-teaches “Economic Analysis of Major Policy Issues” with Snyder each year, said that, as dean, Snyder was very successful in capitalizing on Booth’s strengths. Murphy said he thinks Snyder will take a similar approach as dean of SOM.

In an interview, Snyder said Yale appealed to him in large part because of its tightly-knit community. He said he hopes to use his deanship to build up SOM so it can contend with elite business schools around the globe.

“[SOM] has always been a great school,” he said. “But there’s a lot more to do here. I’m much more of an entrepreneur than a polisher.”

Levin said he expects the new SOM campus to begin construction this summer after securing the remaining funding needed. Acknowledging the objections of some neighbors, the University recently revised the plans for the new SOM campus to reduce the building’s footprint while maintaining the same total interior area.

Snyder said SOM needs its new campus.

“SOM is competing against the world’s best business schools,” he said. “And all of the world’s best business schools have great facilities.”

In addition to advocating for a new campus, Oster has led SOM’s efforts to integrate traditional business coursework with practical education. But Snyder said he will not micromanage the school’s interdisciplinary curriculum, which was introduced in 2006.

“I tend to defer on the curriculum. The dean doesn’t make the curriculum happen,” Snyder said. “It’s the faculty and students that make the curriculum.”

He said he is excited about joining Yale, which he said integrates its business school with the rest of the campus community, unlike many other top universities. In particular, he said, SOM benefits from its close association with Yale College.

“A lot of de facto standalone business schools are schools at great universities,” Snyder said. “But they’re almost islands.”

Snyder said he does not see any challenges facing SOM besides its existing facilities. He did not address any other goals for his deanship but added that he plans to spend the beginning of his term learning about the University.

Snyder will step down from his position at Booth this June and will take a sabbatical year — which he said he will spend traveling, researching and playing golf — before he takes office at Yale in July 2011.

Comments

  • James T. Madison

    It’s interesting that Snyder accepted Yale’s offer at a time when Harvard Business School is seeking to replace it’s departing Dean Jay O. Light, who announced his upcoming June retirement prior to Snyder’s acceptance.

    It’s true that Harvard has had a tradition of selecting deans from within the school, but the times are hardly normal and Snyder’s credentials are truly amazing. Observors have pointed out that while HBS’s complexity would make it hard for someone from the outside to take over, it wouldn’t be impossible, certainly not for someone with Snyder’s abilities.

    Of course, it’s hard to find a business school that’s more of an isolated “island” within its university than HBS within Harvard! There is essentially NO interaction between HBS and Harvard College, for example.