August 8, 2022

By MARTY LEVINE

Arjang A. Assad — Henry E. Haller Jr. dean of the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration — came to Pitt seven years ago with high expectations, he said, after having served as dean of the School of Management of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, for the same length of time.

“Of course, each school is different and the challenges are different,” Assad said, “and I was glad to come to Pitt and learn some more. I expected that I would be working with a better faculty and a more accomplished research faculty so that the flow of ideas would be better” —which would help bring about many changes, he said. “What I did not expect is also what a great staff the school had,” he added.

Both the undergraduate and graduate curricula have been revamped during his time, Assad noted, and he has brought together faculty teams to help decide where the business schools should be headed.

“I always believe that every accomplishment is a part of teamwork,” he said. “I think it is to the credit of the whole school.”

Now he will leave the deanship at the end of this month, having guided the school to its highest national rankings in history.

Through some early expansion and the replacement of retirees, Assad has now recruited 40 percent of the school’s 90 full-time faculty. They have helped him institute new programs, particularly in partnership with the schools of the health sciences, including the Executive MBA in Healthcare program, now in its fifth class. A new Healthcare Leadership Series non-degree program with the School of Medicine is about to start this fall, aimed at aiding experienced medical professionals to improve their management skills.

Assad also launched the first online programs at Katz, beginning with the Professional MBA program, now ranked number five in the nation after only four years.  A new Executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program is set to begin this fall. Other business schools offer DBAs, he said, “but there are not that many research schools that are going to do it the way we are going to do it.”

And the high rankings seem to keep coming: Number 10 among public business schools for the College of Business Administration, by Poets & Quants (which was perhaps a factor in the CBA seeing an 80 percent jump in applications this year); Katz’s full-time MBA ranked by Financial Times in the top 20 among U.S. publics for the eighth straight year; and the Executive MBA and Executive MBA-Healthcare ranked in the same spot by Financial Times among U.S. publics for 2021.

Despite his experience in Buffalo, there were certainly things Assad said he did not expect about his years at Pitt — from the effort needed to go remote in only two weeks when COVID-19 hit, for which he has high praise for school personnel, to the budget redesign process, in which he participated.

Assad will take a year’s leave before returning to full-time teaching, likely in operations and business analytics and perhaps in the Honors College concerning decision analysis, a subject that touches many different fields.

“It’s always good to have new leadership and new ideas,” he said of his reason for stepping down as dean. He has already met with his successor, Eugene Anderson, recently dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

“There are certain things that we are doing that I think should continue, which have been successful and I think make a lot of sense,” Assad said — particularly the healthcare partnership. “We need to continue that momentum.”

But if asked, he said, “I would tell the new dean to think about what he would do for the school that is entirely new. Be bold and come up with new ideas.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at martyl@pitt.edu or 412-758-4859.

 

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