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November 20, 2014

Business dean search forum gathers input

What is the University community looking for in a new business school dean?

Faculty, staff and alumni offered their opinions in a Nov. 18 forum hosted by the search committee charged with identifying a successor to Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration (CBA) Dean John T. Delaney.

Delaney, who has been Pitt business dean since 2006, announced in September that he would step down from the position to become a business school faculty member once a successor is found.

Joining search committee chair Chancellor Emeritus Mark A. Nordenberg and John K. Thornburgh of search firm Witt/Kieffer were search committee members David Denis, (John) Harry Evans, Andrew Stephen and Vanitha Swaminathan of the business school faculty; Laurie Kirsch, professor and vice provost for faculty development, and student representatives Courtney L. Slack of CBA and Kerry Soso of the Katz school.

About two dozen members of the University community attended the forum at the William Pitt Union. Among their comments:

• Bryan Schultz, director of international programs at CBA, said: “I do think a business education in the contemporary marketplace really requires an international flair or perspective,” advocating for a new dean with international interests, background or experience and a commitment to the undergraduate business experience.

• Katz school alumna Chris Kush requested a new leader with both academic and management experience. “There are a great many constituents at Pitt business and it will take a really great manager and leader to pull those together and forge ahead in the future,” she said.

• Jeff Marzina and University Registrar Patti Mathay, both past presidents of the business alumni group, praised Delaney’s efforts to strengthen ties with other schools within the University, urging the committee to ensure those connections continue.

And, noting that mentorship and interaction with alumni are among students’ top requests, Marzina said, “I really think it’s important that the new dean understand the significance of alumni involvement and value that,” commending Delaney’s skill in that area.

• Allie Quick of Institutional Advancement urged the committee to consider candidates’ emotional intelligence and ability to manage off-campus relationships “with folks who experienced the institution at a very different time and perhaps don’t understand what the institution of today is,” and help them “see the vision for where the institution and where the schools are going.”

Quick said others had asked her to share the message that donors have been pleased with the business school’s direction and progress and that they view the impending leadership change as an opportunity for someone to continue the good work Delaney has done in moving the school forward rather than to make dramatic, immediate changes.

• Jim Waite, director of alumni relations for Pitt business, noted that he observed how Dean Delaney on a recent trip to Asia interacted equally well with young alumni and one of the school’s wealthiest graduates. “Someone who doesn’t have an ego, someone who can relate with alumni and donors at all different levels, I think, is extremely important.”

He added, “Every decision (Delaney has) made that I’m aware of, has been made for the benefit of the students. I think that’s been a great attribute.”

• Admissions staff member Charmaine Evans, a 30-year veteran of the business school, asked the committee to seek candidates who will “talk with, not at, staff” and solicit their opinions and input when considering changes.

• Dennis Galletta, director of the Katz PhD programs, would like to ensure the next dean will support the doctoral programs “to make sure we can compete with the best of other doctoral programs so we can continue placing students in the best possible positions.”

• Alumna Kathleen Foody-Malus said Pitt business undergraduates need more consistent technical skills, particularly in economics and computer science.

As an employer, she said she has found Pitt’s MBA graduates “fantastic” but has found inconsistency in undergraduates’ technical skills. “This needs to be more of a focus for the dean,” she said.

• Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education staffer Kevin Craig, a Katz MBA alumnus and lecturer in operations management, commended Delaney’s support for experience-based education programming.

“I want to see those initiatives started under the current administration continued,” he said. “In order for Katz and the business school to be competitive and move forward, we need to be innovative.”


Bill Friday, a 1997 Katz school graduate and president of the Pitt business alumni association, expressed concern that the alumni group had no representation on the search committee, as it has in prior business dean searches.

“As degree owners we’ve got a lot at stake in the decision that’s going to be made, too. … We’d love to be part of that,” he said, asking that the administration consider adding a representative from the alumni board to the search committee.

Nordenberg noted that the committee members themselves all were appointed or elected to the committee, and have no appointing authority of their own, although he promised to pass along the alumni board’s concern.


Nordenberg urged members of the University community to share their thoughts on the dean search with him, Thornburgh or members of the search committee as soon as possible.

In addition to the open forum, input is being solicited via a survey posted at And, Nordenberg said, he and Provost Patricia E. Beeson have met with Katz and CBA faculty, Witt/Kieffer’s Thornburgh has met with Katz school senior administrators and the school’s board of visitors has provided its own input on the search.

The position is to be advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education later this month, and in online venues, Thornburgh said.

Nordenberg said: “We know that, particularly at the outset, we’ve got to cast a very wide net, both in terms of identifying candidates and in terms of receiving the thoughtful perspectives of those from within the University community who have a particular interest in this search and the insights to share with us.”

Nordenberg told the University Times that although no strict timetable has been set, the provost could have the committee’s short list of candidates during the spring term, with the transition possible during summer 2015.

In closing the session, Nordenberg thanked participants, saying, “We’ll do our very best to deliver to the provost and chancellor the kind of finalists’ list from which they can select a dean who will keep the school moving forward in ways that matter to all of you.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 7