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.