Michigan's Ross School Names First Female Dean

Posted by: Alison Damast on February 15, 2011

Alison Davis-Blake made history back in 2006 when she was named the first female dean of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Today, she made history again, with the announcement that she’ll be the first woman to take on the deanship at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, effective Aug. 22, the school said today in a release.

Davis-Blake will be taking over for Robert Dolan, who has been at the school since 2001 and will be stepping down as dean on June 30. The Ross School (Ross Full-Time MBA Profile) is ranked number seven in our 2010 ranking of full-time MBA programs.

Blake has spent the last five years as dean of the Carlson School (Carlson Full-Time MBA Profile), where she was in charge of both the undergraduate and graduate business programs. She is credited with improving the Carlson School’s national reputation and global footprint, helping the school increase its undergraduate enrollment, breaking fundraising records and hiring more faculty, according to a University of Minnesota press release.

Blake got her start as a professor in 1990 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming chair of the management department and a senior associate dean at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business (McCombs Full-Time MBA Profile) before coming to the Carlson School.

Women deans are becoming an increasingly common sight on business school campuses, as I wrote about two years ago in an article on the topic. Of the 668 deans at AACSB-member schools in the U.S. in 2009, nearly 17 percent were women. At the time, I interviewed Davis-Blake about some of the unique challenges women deans face. Here's an excerpt from my conversation with her:

"I don't worry about people actually saying to my face: 'I won't deal with you because you are a woman,' that has never indeed happened," Davis-Blake said. "But there is always that moment, when people say, 'Oh, this person is different from the past five people I've dealt with. I wonder what this will be like.'"

For a more extended take on Davis-Blake's perspective on being a dean, check out the slideshow we did on women deans. Blake is one of twelve deans we featured in the slideshow.

It will be interesting to see if more top-ranked business schools tap women to serve as deans in the coming years. Davis-Blake's appointment to the Ross School is history in the making and I wouldn't be surprised if more schools follow their lead.

Reader Comments


February 15, 2011 6:16 PM

Why a hyphenated name?


February 21, 2011 10:38 PM

Another business dean with no record of success in an actual business. Here's a crazy idea, why not have a dean who has proven (himself)(herself) by successfully running a business. My business professors were mostly retired/still-working businessmen who had a history of success. Being solely in the realm of academia for the last 25 years detaches you from most of reality.

Gandhu Kabacha

February 28, 2011 3:41 AM

@Brandon - What makes you think running an academic institution is the same thing as running a business? Running a business SCHOOL is not the same thing as running a BUSINESS. Being detached from reality, as you put it, is probably an asset in this role.

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