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Developing Deans: Combining International Best Practice with Innovation

Business school deans and directors face similar challenges when first assuming their positions: setting strategy, managing risks, supporting faculty, and leading a diverse group of stakeholders. For institutions in the developing world, these tasks require resourceful leadership that combines international best practice with locally relevant solutions.

GBSN hosted a Cross-Border Coffee Break on Developing Deans: Combining International Best Practice with Innovation on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. The virtual conversation, led by Rohit Verma, Dean of External Affairs at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, served as an introduction to the GBSN Developing Deans Program, which is currently accepting applications.

The Cross-Border Coffee Break focused on the first residential session of the program, which is hosted by Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in New York.

Cornell University has a very strong focus on public engagement and it is practiced through different avenues on a day-to-day basis.

One example of their public engagement work is with VinUniversity, new university that is being launched in Hanoi, Vietnam. Cornell has been brought in to give advice on all aspects of university creation, including developing a strategic plan, drafting job descriptions for faculty and staff, and participating in the hiring process. Once the faculty and staff are in place, Cornell will be engaging them in curriculum development, crafting the student experience and setting goals for accreditation and research reputation over the course of the next 4-5 years.

With their expertise and spirit of public engagement, the SC Johnson College of Business is hosting the first in-residence session of the Developing Deans Program which provides an overview of business school management and the role and expectations of a Dean.

“When we say public engagement, we don’t just mean our local community here in Ithaca, but it could mean anywhere in the world. Since our campuses are all over the world, and our students come from all over the world, and our faculty are interested in initiatives all over the world, it means the entire world is our playground. That’s why we are really excited to be a part of GBSN’s program because it allows us to connect with schools and colleges all around the world with whom we can network, we can share some of our best practices, but also learn from them and bring some of their ideas back to our campus.” Rohit Verma, Dean of External Affairs, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business


At the Cornell session, each day will have a theme to lay the foundation of what every Dean should know. Several faculty participating in the VinUniversity project will be facilitating sessions to share their experiences and will also be available for one-on-one conversations to provide advice on specific topics.

Participants will have the opportunity to visit both the main campus in Ithaca and their newest campus in New York City to see how a traditional university operates in contrast to how a new school built now can be conceptualized in a different way. Additionally, there will be time to network with each other recognizing that the connections formed with other Deans will be just as, if not more, important as the content that is learned.

GBSN Developing Deans Program
July 23-27, 2018 | Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Foundational Residential Session Schedule


Once the session at Cornell concludes, participants will return to their home institutions to start their Applied Leadership Project and connect with their mentors. The cohort will then split up to attend Regional Site Visits to see how international best practices are applied within a developing country context. The cohort will come together once again at the GBSN 2018 Annual Conference in Nairobi, Kenya for sessions on leadership and future planning.

If you are a new or aspiring Dean, we invite you to apply for the program as we are currently accepting applications. To learn more about the Developing Deans Program, please visit our website: gbsn.org/developingdeans

Stephanie Blochinger is the Program Officer at the Global Business School Network