Late last year, sharing his 2023 New Year’s resolution with Poets&Quants, Cornell’s Andrew Karolyi said he hoped the coming year would bring opportunities to “continue to develop responsible, principled leaders equipped to effect change essential to achieving sustainable, shared prosperity.”
Karolyi, the Charles Field Knight dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business which includes the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, will have the chance to keep personally shaping those leaders, not only this year but for years to come. Cornell announced October 2 that he has been reappointed dean of the Johnson College for a five-year term beginning in July 2024.
“I am delighted, honored and fully aware of the expectations and the responsibilities that come with an opportunity like this,” Karolyi says in a news release marking the appointment.
‘THE TIME IS NOW’
In his 2023 New Year’s resolution, Karolyi outlined Cornell’s mission in helping to develop the next generation of business leaders
“As a result of our college’s shared principles with organizations like Responsible Research for Business and Management (RRBM) and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), their mission and values will provide a well-developed framework. The guiding principles of these organizations focus on a commitment to the core concept of corporate sustainability in our curricula, the importance of driving management research to align with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and all in a way that is highly attuned to the needs of companies worldwide today.
“My resolution is to not only push our own college to strengthen our alignment with PRME and RRBM’s core principles, but also to exhort other business school leaders to do the same in their own colleges and schools. The time is now, the need is acute, and we in the world of business education and research have a tremendous opportunity to make this kind of positive change.”
Karolyi will be in a prime position to make this happen — at Cornell as well as PRME. In June of the year, at PRME’s 2023 Global Forum, he was appointed vice president of the group’s Board of Directors.
“I’m really proud to work with PRME because it is an opportunity to work with incredible people … to mobilize change on another level, which is really about changing the face of business education around the world,” Karolyi said in June. “It’s a wonderful opportunity, a wonderful platform, but it’s an awesome responsibility as well. We have to do it right.”
Karolyi was appointed dean of the SC Johnson College of Business in April 2021 after serving in an interim role. Within a year, he had presided over an incredible jump in applications to the school’s full-time MBA program, counter to the trend suffered at many of Cornell’s peers. Overall across the college’s three schools in the professional master’s programs, he oversaw a 20% increase in enrollment, including the launch of three new master’s programs, two in partnership with eCornell and one with Peking University. Cornell has hired more than 30 new faculty members affiliated with each of the three schools and across all eight of the college’s disciplinary areas since Karolyi took the top job.
But his partial term in office hasn’t been all smooth sailing. The disruptions of coronavirus were a major part of Cornell’s (and everyone else’s) reality when Karolyi was named acting dean following the departure of former Dean Kevin Hallock. By the time he officially took the reins in spring 2021, Covid-19 restrictions were already beginning to subside; but their reverberations continued to be felt. In October 2022, the Johnson Graduate School of Management announced the end of its Accelerated MBA program, a move the B-school made to dedicate more resources to another one-year MBA, the Tech MBA based on Cornell’s Roosevelt Island campus in New York City. The final class of Cornell’s Accelerated MBA — which like its Tech MBA had shared a place on P&Q‘s list of the top one-year MBA programs — graduated in spring 2023.
Cornell’s closure of a major program was “gut-check time,” Karolyi told Poets&Quants last October. “We’ve had some wonderful students come through the Accelerated program and have gone on to be able to leverage it for very successful careers. It’s wonderful meeting them along the way. But we’ve never felt that we were able to drive hard enough with that given its mission as it was crafted. We never felt we were able to meet our ambitious goals for it.”
‘COLLABORATIVE, RESPECTFUL & VISIONARY’ LEADERSHIP
Karolyi received his bachelor’s in economics from McGill University in 1983, and a master’s in economics from the University of Ottawa in 1985. He worked at the Bank of Canada from 1983-85 in its research department, then over the next four years earned his MBA and Ph.D. in finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Before he was named acting dean in 2021, Karolyi served as deputy dean and dean of academic affairs of the college. He took the reins of the SC Johnson College just five years after its 2016 launch, which brought together the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. Bringing three schools together “clearly was a situation where we needed to listen,” Karolyi says. “Those in leadership roles at each school and in the college needed to listen to their own constituencies, our alumni, faculty, staff and students, and to the broader community about the concerns and the opportunities. We needed to hear from our distinguished colleagues in all three schools about what made them tick, what made them successful in their own ways. We have done that, and we are on the move.”
Building a sense of community in the college has been one of Karolyi’s main objectives, and he said he’s looking forward to continuing that process.
“That’s what energizes me more than anything else about the reappointment,” he said. “We still have much work to do to build a sense of college. It is better and continues to get better; I sense that, I hear that from my faculty and staff colleagues, from our alumni leaders, and it’s gratifying to see it come alive.”
“Andrew’s leadership has been collaborative, respectful, and visionary,” Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff says. “He has stepped into the deanship at a pivotal moment in the history of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, fostered excellence in the Cornell Dyson, Nolan and Johnson schools, and has established a clear strategy to support collegewide initiatives. Andrew has the vision and support of the college to continue to enhance its position of one of the world’s leading colleges of business.”
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