Harvard Business School’s Dean Nitin Nohria had planned to step down in June 2o2o. Then, the COVID-19 crisis exploded. So, Nohria decided to remain at the helm of HBS for the rest of the year. But the search for his replacement has officially come to an end. The school has announced that Srikant Datar will assume the reins effective January 1, 2021.
Since joining the HBS faculty in 1996, Datar has held a series of key positions. These include his role as the school’s senior associate dean responsible for faculty recruiting and development. He has also led the school’s efforts in executive education, for research, and currently for University affairs.
In addition, Datar has served as faculty chair of the Harvard Innovation Labs, or i-lab, since 2015. He has recently led efforts to implement HBS’s hybrid teaching and learning model adopted in response to the pandemic.
Datar said he felt both “humbled and honored” by the appointment. “Harvard Business School is an institution with a remarkable legacy of impact in research, education, and practice,” he said in an official statement.
“Yet the events of the past year have hastened our passage to an unforeseen future. I look forward to working with colleagues and friends of the School — including throughout Harvard, in our Boston community, and around the world — to realize our mission in what undoubtedly will be an exciting new era.”
Continuity Over Trailblazing
Srikant Datar will become the 11th dean in the business school’s 112-year history. Poets & Quants notes that with this designation, HBS passed up the opportunity to appoint its first female dean.
“The school missed a great opportunity to address its yawning gap in diversity for a great woman dean and/or an under-represented minority,” one observer told P&Q. “This was seen as a safe choice to maximize continuity rather than to have impact or showcase a model of change.”