Sheppard to Step Down as Dean at Duke's Fuqua

Posted by: Alison Damast on July 25, 2011

Blair Sheppard will be stepping down as dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business on Aug.1, the school announced today. He’ll be taking on a new role, assisting in fundraising and business development for Duke Kunshan University, Duke’s new university in Kunshan, China. The new role will play on Sheppard’s strengths as a fundraiser and savvy businessman. Prior to becoming dean, he served for seven years as CEO of Duke Corporate Education, the for-profit executive education venture and Fuqua spin-off.

Sheppard is in the fourth year of his deanship and had recently been reappointed to a second five-year term, which was supposed to start on July 1, 2012. William Boulding, Fuqua’s deputy dean and a professor of business administration, will replace him for a two-year term, the school said. The school says it plans to launch an international search for a dean during Boulding’s second year.

It has been an eventful four years for Sheppard. Just two months into his deanship, the school was rocked by the largest episode of cheating in the school’s history. At the time, 34 first-year students, most of whom were Asian, were accused of allegedly cheating on an open-book take-home exam in one of the school’s required core classes. By graduation the following year, 24 students had been either suspended or expelled by the school for their involvement in the cheating scandal. Many in the business school community praised Sheppard for openly acknowledging that cheating had occurred at the school, and dealing with it in a straightforward manner. Sheppard used the incident to reinforce the school’s commitment to its strong honor code, creating “honor representatives” for each class and raising the visibility of the honor code on class assignments and exams. He also encouraged the creation of student task forces that worked to make the honor code clearer to both domestic and international students.

Sheppard also made a mark in the management education community early on with his ambitious plans for a global campus presence for Fuqua. In the midst of the economic downturn, he pushed to broaden the school's global reach by establishing outposts in London, St. Petersburg, Dubai, New Delhi and Shanghai. Students in both the school's revamped Cross Continent and Global Executive MBA programs now travel to these campuses during their time at school and take classes there during short-term residencies. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek in 2008, he criticized existing business school approaches to global education as "broken," saying that business schools were too regionally oriented and only set up global campuses in places where it was easy to set up shop.

He appears to be happy with his legacy. "Much of what I set out to do has been accomplished," Sheppard said in a school press release. "Now we need to consolidate the gains the school has made in all these areas, even as we move forward with our international plans and other goals."

The Duke Kunshan campus is expected to open in late 2012, and will be an expensive venture for Duke. The first phase of the campus is expected to cost Duke $37 million, according to the university's "Duke-Kunshan Planning Guide" document. It will be interesting to see what Sheppard accomplishes in his new role. One thing is for sure: his fund-raising skills will be put to the test.

Reader Comments


July 26, 2011 5:50 AM

Good job Dean Sheppard. Thank you for your vision and tireless efforts on our behalf. Welcome and Godspeed Dean Boulding!

Blue Devil for life

John Galt

July 26, 2011 4:01 PM

Blair Sheppard is quite the panda hugger. He shows little concern about how to reconcile Duke´s values (i.e., freedom of speech, democracy, human rights, intellectual property protection, privacy,freedom of religion, women´s rights, et al) with Mainland China´s.

Blair put Duke, and its reputation at some risk. He apparently made way too many concessions to the town of Kunshan (the co-branding and co-control of the board just for starts). Sheppard introduced extremely one sided cases (well disguised) about the China story to University Administration.

The Fuqua China campus is outside of a run down manufacturing town far from Shanghai. A bad deal for a variety of reasons. These arguably outweight the upside of building a presence in China and than some (Kunshan gave Fuqua a piece of free swampland). Its such a cliche. Countless Western business (not just Google) have gotten their noses bloodied trying to access the growth story of the Chinese market.

Its a fact that the Mainland Chinese consistently bait and switch useful idiots from the West. The Chinese covet western brand equity and steal know how repeatedly and consistently. Its their business model. Even the NY Times reported that Chinese universities are ground zero for hacking activity (vs the Pentagon and Western military and corporate targets, etc) and intellectual property theft.

But what else should one expect from a B School Dean who is a closet socialist, and a bitter Cannuck who regards the US and Western values with contempt. Blair is a moral relativist, simply put.

If Fuqua is going to expand markets ruled by dictatorships than benign dictatorships such as Singapore and Dubai are better choices. India is a democracy and that´s even better.

Stanley O´Neil

July 28, 2011 9:11 AM

The above comments fail to appreciate the innovation, vision, and entrepreneurship of the global programs launched at the Fuqua School.

That said, there are significant misgivings among alumni and faculty members about the logic of the Dean´s venture. Is he getting Duke "Shanghai´d"?!

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