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Mendoza continues dean search

Sara Felsenstein | Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dr. Roger Huang, Interim Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, said a focus on ethics is the College’s “DNA,” fundamental to both its academics and administration.

As Notre Dame continues the search to replace former Dean Carolyn Woo, who left the University Jan. 1, Huang said this commitment to ethics is one crucial quality looked for in a candidate.

“Our calling card is ‘ask more of business,'” he said. “We need someone who understands that.”

Huang, the Kenneth R. Meyer Professor of Global Investment Management, is currently serving as Interim Dean while the University looks for a permanent successor. Previously Mendoza’s Associate Dean, he was notified of his appointment shortly after Woo announced her departure last June.

After 14 years as Dean of the business school, Woo left Notre Dame to serve as president and chief executive officer of Catholic Relief Services.

Huang said it’s still uncertain as to when the University will announce the new dean.

“It’s difficult to tell … I don’t know what the time frame is,” he said. “I’m not involved in the search process. The Provost chaired the search committee, and the members of [that] committee [were] chosen by the College Council. We have done that, passed that stage. I believe they are now in the process of picking people to interview.”

As Interim Dean, Huang said he is responsible for all aspects of the College, from daily matters to strategic planning. He said he worked with Woo for a long time, was involved in everything she handled and is aware of the pending issues.

He said his short-term position,however,presents some challenges.

“There are some issues you’re not quite sure whether you should leave to the next dean or not,” he said. “I will ask for guidance from the Provost … if there are strategies involved which may be very long-term in nature. If we restructure an operation here, for example, by abolishing a program or something like that, it’s best to [consult] with someone who’s going to be here permanently.”

Huang said on a general level, Mendoza will need a leader who knows academia as well as the business world, someone who is able to navigate both arenas easily.

“There are many dimensions to being a dean, and you’re not going to find someone good in all dimensions,” he said. “[We need] someone who’s very open-minded, able to learn and willing to learn … a person who can influence outcomes, think strategically, effect change [and] is motivational.”

But Huang said Notre Dame’s faith-based values make the recruiting process even more complex.

“We are also a Catholic institution, and, therefore, we need someone who can parlay that experience of being both in academia and the business school for doing good, who can translate that and do good for the world,” he said.

Huang said it’s essential for a dean to not only understand Notre Dame’s mission but also to remain committed to it.

“We’ve been doing business ethics, corporate responsibility, we’ve been covering that forever. After the 2008 economic crisis, suddenly [universities began] touting that they’re doing business in the context of ‘business for good,'” he said.  “We will always be focused on business ethics and corporate social responsibility issues. This is not fashionable for us.”

But he said a dean should also be able to lead the College into new phases of development.

“Everything is dynamic,” Huang said. “It’s not only about being familiar with academia or the business world … It’s about having that strategic ability to be an entrepreneur — in fact, part of the vanguard in effecting change.”