There are 181 new professors at the top 25 U.S. business schools, including first-time faculty and visiting profs. Among the celebrity hires: former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (middle row, second from left), who will teach at his alma mater, MIT Sloan. Photo collage by Tori Leonhart
The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed hiring at the leading business schools in the United States, but not by much. There were more than 180 new hires in the full-time MBA programs at the top 25 U.S. B-schools in 2020, a slight decline from previous years. Once again, the vast majority are newly minted Ph.D.s, but also once again, many bright stars switched teams.
Among the brightest stars is Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who crossed the campus in May to join the Wharton School as the inaugural recipient of the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang professorship. Duckworth, who maintains her appointment in Penn’s Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology, is a graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Penn, a MacArthur Fellow, and a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, which is a group of women leaders honored by the governor for their contributions to the Commonwealth. Duckworth is also founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit that uses psychological science to help children thrive, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics, which uses data to “advance how organizations make decisions about people, and help leaders operate based on evidence rather than intuition.”
Duckworth’s CV would take a whole page to summarize, but another of her pursuits is worth mentioning because it forms the foundation of what she’s teaching Wharton MBAs this year. She’s a leading expert on “grit” — the passion and perseverance to accomplish goals. She’s even written a New York Times bestseller about it and conducted a TED Talk on the subject viewed by 20 million.
“I’m thrilled! Duckworth said last month when Wharton announced her appointment to the faculty. “So many Wharton faculty are on the cutting edge of behavioral science.”
Angela Duckworth joined the Wharton faculty in May as the inaugural recipient of the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professorship. Wharton photo
Wharton’s 20 new hires this year are second to Harvard Business School, which welcomed 28 new professors and instructors into its ranks. Third on the list for new hires in 2020 is Stanford Graduate School of Business with 12, followed by MIT Sloan School of Management with 11 and three schools with 10 new hires each: Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business.
In all, 181 professors, instructors, lecturers, and other new faces joined the 25 highest-ranked U.S. B-schools this year. That’s down in recent history, but not enough to call it a major hiring slump. In 2016, Poets&Quants counted 143 new profs — from full professors to guest lecturers — at the top 20 schools. In 2017, that number ballooned to 198 at 24 schools. The next year, in 2018, looking at the top 27 schools — including P&Q’s top 25 — there were 277. Among them were 168 whose full-time teaching jobs were the first in their career, or 65%, up from 57% of the previous year’s total. And in 2019, there were 198 total new professors at the top 25 schools, including 135 for whom the new job was also their first job teaching MBAs. That’s 68% of the total — more than two-thirds.
This year, of the 181 new hires (listed on pages 2 to 5), 62% are new to the classroom, whether newly minted Ph.D.s or hailing from the corporate/startup world. Sixty-nine total professors have previous MBA teaching experience; two schools, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business and USC Marshall School of Business, had no new hires at all this year.
Going school by school, we see that in 2017, Wharton had the most new hires, at 27, and the next year that distinction went to Harvard, which welcomed 33 new faculty, followed by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (23) and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (20). In all, 12 of 27 schools welcomed 10 new faculty or more in 2018. In 2019, however, only one school — Stanford Graduate School of Business, with 24 — hired more than 20 new professors, with NYU’s Stern School of Business and USC’s Marshall School of Business following at 16 apiece, and Chicago Booth notching 13. In all, just eight schools in the top 25 hired 10 or more new faculty. That number shrank to seven schools this year.
In 2018, management profs were the best-represented among all those who relocated: there were 55. That was followed by finance (46), accounting (36), operations (34), marketing (30), strategy (22), tech (13), and entrepreneurship (11). In 2019, management was again the top discipline, with 30 new profs in the field, followed by marketing (24), finance (22), accounting (19), technology (12), operations (8), entrepreneurship (7), and strategy (6). And in 2020, management was the top discipline for new hires with 29, followed by finance (28), economics (23), marketing (20), accounting (15), and eight each in business administration, strategy, and operations. Entrepreneurship accounted for five hires, and tech only three.
Among the most interesting hires: Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, will return to his alma mater MIT as distinguished senior fellow at the Sloan School’s Golub Center for Finance and Policy, and will teach a course in the spring addressing financial regulation. At Harvard Business School, Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, and Paul McKinnon, former head of human resources at Citigroup, both will teach courses. Stanford GSB, meanwhile, welcomes Prasad Setty, vice president of “people operations” at Google, to teach a management course.
THE POWER & IMPORTANCE OF GRIT
Of all the new faces, only one is the foremost expert in grit. This spring, Angela Duckworth spearheaded a new course called Grit Lab: Fostering Passion and Perseverance for undergraduate students in all four Penn schools. Happy with the course — which was designed to help students find their passion, explore new skills, and develop perseverance — Duckworth is teaching Grit Lab again this fall. As she says in her bestselling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence.”
Perseverance, she notes, is a vital trait in the coronavirus era.
“There’s a lot we can’t control these days, many reasons to be frustrated, and much to worry about in the near and distant future,” Duckworth says. “Without ignoring reality, gritty individuals tend to focus on what is in their power to change, so I recommend hunting for small ways you can wrest some control and bring order and satisfaction to your life.
“For instance, my husband started making our bed every morning. I started calling my mom every time I go out for a (socially distanced) walk. And both of us think of three things each day for which we’re grateful.”
See there next pages for a complete list of new hires at the top 25 U.S. business schools.
Sekou Bermiss is an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. UNC photo
Sekou Bermiss, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, was hired away from Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, where he had taught management since 2018 and where had been an assistant professor for nine years before that. His interview was in January, and then things got interesting.
“It all came together right as the world was collapsing,” Bermiss says. “I went out and did my job interview stuff in late January. Then I got busy with other things. And so there really wasn’t a decision until early March. I didn’t get the official word until like March 11th. And then SXSW (the premier music and tech festival in Austin) got canceled. And then all the stuff at UT started getting canceled, and I was like ‘Oh, I’ve got to make this decision in the midst of all this.’ So it’s been surreal.”
Bermiss, a New York native, has family on the East Coast, including his wife’s family in North Carolina. But it was the school that really made him want to relocate.
“I think for me it was definitely a work-life balance kind of thing,” he says. “McCombs is great. It’s a great place. You know, I’ve been here 10 years. North Carolina is also a great place — big public school, top-notch faculty doing interesting work. You know, we’ve been without family close by for our whole time in Texas. We have two kids. I didn’t want to move just for that, but when I realized, ‘Wow, UNC is a great place,’ that was the final straw.”
Bermiss is accustomed to teaching virtually after pivoting at UT McCombs in March, when he was teaching six sections of MBA courses. After that “nightmare of logistics,” he’s ready to teach virtually at UNC in the spring — his class, called People Analytics, is a version of what he taught at McCombs.
“I didn’t love the switch, but it did definitely force me to rethink the structure of some of the classes,” Bermiss says of remote instruction. “And so now I have at least two classes that I’m pretty happy with, that I can do virtually, which I didn’t have before, right? And I think when this is all said and done, a couple of years from now, I think there’s still going to be a huge virtual component to business education more so than we’ve seen in the past. And so I needed to do this anyway. I wouldn’t have planned to do it this way, but it kind of forced a lot of folks to think about what that virtual class looks like.”
Daisy Lovelace is a professor of the practice at Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Duke photo
Daisy Lovelace hates to move. Who doesn’t? Fortunately for the professor of the practice at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, her move this fall was to a school she was familiar with. Lovelace, who spent last year as an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, was a visiting scholar at Duke Fuqua for the first six months of 2019. She also used to live in Durham, where Duke is located.
But that doesn’t mean moving isn’t a pain, she says.
“If you think through the logistics of moving, I joke that ‘move’ is a four-letter word because it’s just a pain, right? Nobody likes to move,” Lovelace tells P&Q. “In terms of dealing with packing and unpacking and cleaning and organizing and all of those logistics. And then there’s all the other things about closing up shop where you were before, and starting at a new place.”
The pandemic added to the difficulty. For one, it meant Lovelace couldn’t say goodbye to her students in person.
“It was hard to not be able to see my students before leaving,” she says. “There’s this lack of closure, not being able to participate in a formal graduation or even just see students that I was close with before transitioning. And so that left some challenges.”
Lovelace, who taught MBA courses for seven years at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business prior to joining McIntire, is teaching a pair of leadership electives and a doctoral seminar on academic communication this far at Duke Fuqua. Her husband, Ken Lovelace, is a visiting scholar at Duke School of Law.
Daisy Lovelace says her courses are expected to be taught mostly virtually this year, though when she spoke with P&Q in August the details were still being worked out. She’s well-acquainted with remote instruction, having taught for years through LinkedIn Learning.
It’s “full steam ahead,” she says. “I find that my colleagues across the board have been incredibly welcoming and generous with their time in terms of just kind of walking me through what a typical year would be like, helping me get settled in — in that way.”
Andrey Malenko joins Michigan Ross from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. BC photo
For Andrey Malenko, teaching remotely this fall is a new experience. Malenko, who joined the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan as an associate professor of finance, was at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management in March when coronavirus shut down the campus and sent all classes online.
But that happened after Malenko’s class had just concluded.
“I finished my class right before the school got shut down,” Malenko tells P&Q. “I had a half-semester MBA course in corporate finance at Carroll. My class just basically ended, so then we went into spring break and I think the school shut down like a week after the spring break.
“That said, it’s great to learn new skills. Honestly, I’m used to teaching in-person, and I like doing that a lot. If I teach remotely, I will do my best to deliver a great class remotely, and I will make some adjustments to have the learning experience better fit the remote format. And, I think it will be good to learn new skills.”
Prior to Carroll, Malenko taught finance for eight years at MIT Sloan. While his Ph.D. from Stanford is in finance, he has two economics degrees as well.
It’s not the ideal time to switch schools, to uproot and start anew, he acknowledges. But nothing about the coronavirus era is ideal for anyone, he adds. And it helps that Michigan Ross has faculty with years’ experience in remote delivery through the school’s part-time online MBA program.
“It’s not a normal time for anybody, for existing faculty members or for new faculty,” Malenko says. “There are challenges. Since most of the meetings are over Zoom, you cannot really like, knock on your colleague’s door and ask something. There is all kinds of additional formality — like scheduling a meeting is more of a formality now.
“But everybody’s in the same position figuring out how to teach class in the new environment, whether it’s hybrid or remote. So I’m probably in the same position as my colleagues who have been around for a long time. And if you think how higher education will be delivered 30 years from now, for sure some remote learning formats are going to be part of that. No doubt. So why not make this investment right now?”
Marisa Epstein, here with former First Lady Michelle Obama, is the former associate director of the White House Let’s Move Initiative and an MBA from Stanford GSB. She will be teaching management at Texas-Austin McCombs this year.
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