Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria has announced he will step down in June 2020. This will conclude ten years of service as the school’s tenth dean. In a message to faculty, staff, students, and alumni, Nohria said the time is right for HBS to transition to new leadership.
“Ten years gave us a good run to make progress on our ‘Five I’ priorities,” he noted, referring to the school-wide focus on innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion, and integration that has been a hallmark of his tenure. “Serving as Dean has been a privilege for which I am immensely grateful. A decade seems an appropriate duration for this chapter in the School’s history.”
Nohria says he will take a sabbatical beginning in July 2020. He joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1988 after receiving his Ph.D. from MIT. Before his appointment as Dean, he served in several leadership roles at HBS. They include Chair of the Organizational Behavior Unit, Co-Chair of the Leadership Initiative, and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development.
Nohria is a prolific scholar, with more than a dozen books to his name. He is also the author of the McKinsey Award-winning 2018 Harvard Business Review article, “How CEOs Manage Time.”
Highlights of the Nitin Nohria Deanship
As dean, Nohria upped the experiential aspect of the program by instituting a new, required year-long course. Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (a.k.a. FIELD) provides students with intensive, immersive, small-group opportunities to develop leadership, global, and integrative intelligence.
The school came under intense scrutiny in 2013 as it celebrated 50 years of women at HBS while still grappling with gender inequity and sexism. In January 2014, Dean Nitin Nohria addressed the subject at an alumnae event, where he apologized to female students and professors past and present for any sexist or offensive behavior they experienced at the business school. In that speech, he said the school owed them better. He also promised to make swift changes to address the inequalities that still exist.
Under Nohria’s leadership, HBS entered the digital learning platform market in 2014 with the introduction of HBX CORe. This program taught business fundamentals (Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting) to college students and new workforce hires.
Notably, Nohria has raised more money than any other business school dean in history. During his deanship, the HBS endowment grew from $2.1 to $3.8 billion as of June 30, 2019. The school’s annual revenues have also increased from $509 million to nearly $1 billion. That enabled significant investments in the Harvard Innovation Labs, which foster innovation and entrepreneurship across the Harvard community.
Looking to the Future
In his announcement, Nohria thanked Drew Faust, who served as Harvard’s president from 2007 to 2018, for her support. “I will always be grateful to Drew for her confidence in appointing me, her mentorship, and her inspirational vision for Harvard as One University,” he said.
Meanwhile, Faust had this to say about the outgoing dean Nitin Nohria. “He took to heart the School’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world. Whether launching new pedagogies, investing in the faculty and their research, or building bridges from the Business School to other parts of Harvard, Nitin has positioned HBS well to face the 21st century.”
Harvard University President Larry Bacow said that he would soon initiate a search for a new dean. “For today, all of us owe Nitin our admiration and thanks for his outstanding service to HBS and Harvard.”