Sharon Oster To Serve as SOM Dean

After three-and-a-half years as dean of the Yale School of Management (SOM), Joel Podolny will step down on Nov. 1 from the post to lead educational initiatives at Apple Inc., President Richard C. Levin has announced.

Sharon M. Oster, the Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship and director of the Yale SOM Program on Social Enterprise, will serve as dean during a search for Podolny’s replacement.

“It is hard to describe in a brief message the impact that Joel has had during his tenure,” Levin wrote in a letter to the SOM community. “Under his creative and energetic leadership, the Yale School of Management has developed a visionary M.B.A. curriculum that has attracted the attention of business schools and employers, both in the United States and around the globe.

“There are other indications of achievement and momentum,” Levin continued. “Applications to the M.B.A. program have increased by 50% in the last five years. The school’s acceptance rate and GMAT scores for the incoming Class of 2010 place the school among the nation’s top M.B.A. programs. The size of the permanent faculty has increased by 20%, as Joel has recruited outstanding scholars and teachers attracted to the school’s collaborative, multidisciplinary focus. Under his leadership, SOM has renewed its diversity initiatives and launched new international and leadership programs, new activities for alumni engagement and new publications. Before Joel’s arrival at SOM, the most that the school had raised in a year was $9.5 million. In three-and-a-half years, he has led our efforts to raise more than $170 million toward the Yale Tomorrow capital campaign goal of $300 million.”

As dean, Podolny traveled across the globe to meet with recruiters and business and government leaders, but he also managed to be in the classroom more than any dean in memory, Levin said in his letter. “[He] responded to virtually every request and virtually every e-mail — often at 4:30 in the morning,” added the Yale president.

Podolny, who is also the William Beinecke Professor of Management, is best known for applying the sociological concept of status to the study of market competition. He came to Yale from Harvard University, where he had served as the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management and director of research at the Harvard Business School. He previously taught for 11 years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He will return to California for his new post with Apple.

Oster is a scholar in the areas of competitive strategy, microeconomic theory, industrial organization, the economics of regulation and antitrust, and non-profit strategy. Her textbooks have become standards in their fields.

“For nearly three decades, she has been a citizen par excellence for the School [of Management] and the University,” said Levin. “She will not only provide strong institutional continuity; she will also bring vision, energy and a deep commitment to SOM’s mission and to the integrated M.B.A. curriculum that she and other members of the SOM faculty have worked so tirelessly to develop and implement. She is eager to build upon the distinctive platform that the faculty has created these last three years.”

In his letter announcing Podolny’s departure, Levin said that SOM is in “the strongest position it has enjoyed in its 30-year history.” He added that the creation of the new SOM campus will proceed on schedule.

“Joel’s unexpected departure challenges each of us to rise to the occasion,” Levin said. “I know that I can count on everyone in the SOM community to join with Sharon Oster and me to continue our positive momentum and bring the Yale School of Management to greater stature and impact in a world that increasingly needs its contributions.”

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