UVA Dean To Step Down After Two Decades

Carl Zeithaml, dean of the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce. Photo by Dan Addison, University of Virginia Communications

Carl Zeithaml, one of the longest-serving deans of an elite undergraduate business school announced today (June 10) he will be stepping down from his post after the 2019-2020 academic year. Zeithaml first assumed deanship at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1997 and will step down after completing his fifth term as dean.

“For more than two decades, Carl Zeithaml has been synonymous with McIntire – and largely responsible for its success,” UVA President Jim Ryan said in a release from the school. “Carl has also set the standard for what it means to be a dean at a public university, and I’ve depended on his wisdom and advice during my first year as president. As sad as I will be to see Carl step down, I am immensely grateful to him and look forward to one more year together.”

Zeithaml’s time as chief of UVA’s elite business school has been profound. For the past three years that we’ve ranked undergraduate business schools, McIntire has consistently climbed in the rankings from eighth in 2016, to third in 2017, and second last year. Along with stellar job outcomes and a solid return on investment, one of the main reasons McIntire has established itself as a front-runner in our rankings is placing first in the alumni survey portion of the ranking for the past two years. The recent success was enough to earn the school the first inaugural Undergraduate Business School of the Year by Poets&Quants.


Highlighting the undergraduate experience at McIntire, which is a two-year program, is the Integrated Core Experience (ICE). Some 20 years ago, early on in his tenure, Zeithaml co-created ICE, which has evolved into a curricular hallmark and highlight during the third year for business majors. The program includes 12 required credit hours in the fall semester and nine in the spring semester of the students’ third year. Students are put into blocks of 40 to 45 and have a team of seven professors and corporate advisers. The classes run simultaneously with a real-world business problem with one of the school’s corporate sponsors.

“One of the things we continually think about is, What do we need to add?” Zeithaml told us last December. “What do we need to take away, and what do we need to do to continually innovate the program?”

Innovation and evolution were two key aspects of Zeithaml’s deanship. His foresight into the market desire for one-year masters programs, the importance of global undergraduate business education, and specialized tracks within the traditional business degree has placed McIntire ahead of many of its competitor schools. During his two decades, Zeithaml has helped expand the specialization options for undergraduate business majors from the five business standard areas to include tracks in advertising and digital media, business analytics, entrepreneurship, global commerce, real estate, and quantitative finance.

Zeithaml has also created multiple global partnerships for undergraduate and masters students as well as expanded the one-year masters programs offered by the school from two to five including masters of science in commerce, accounting, global commerce, management of IT, and business analytics.

“For Carl, McIntire’s program growth and change were never about what was easy to implement; rather, it was a commitment to the highest-caliber graduates and the demands of the business marketplace,” Professor Ryan Nelson, who joined McIntire in 1990 and served as associate dean for the undergraduate program from 2014 to 2019 also said in the release from the school. “Carl’s vision led us in bold, new strategic directions while his passion inspired us to achieve outcomes we never knew were possible – the epitome of a transformational leader being in the right place, at the right time.”


All of the changes and innovations have led to not only high outcomes in national rankings but also in the market for its graduates. In 2014, McIntire graduates reporting full-time employment within three months of graduation earned an average salary of $64,352. Five years later, 2018 graduates reported an average of $75,068. Meanwhile, between 96% and 98% of graduates seeking employment have found full-time employment within three months of graduation.

“McIntire’s rankings are off-the-charts, but there is much that is essential that they will never capture about the school and its remarkable leader, Carl Zeithaml,” UVA Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Magill said in the school’s release. “Carl’s vision and indefatigable efforts have, for more than two decades, shaped every aspect of McIntire’s experience for the better. In the coming years, faculty, students and staff will have the great gift of building on this singular institution thanks to Carl’s leadership. I am so pleased he will remain part of the UVA family for years to come.”


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