Yale Dean Joel Podolny to Step Down

Big news at Yale… Yesterday the Yale School of Management announced that Joel Podolny will leave his post as dean of the school to join Apple as vice president and dean of the company’s coming Apple University. Effective November 1, Professor Sharon Oster will take the reins as interim dean while the school conducts a search for Podolny’s permanent replacement.

It’s an understatement to say that Podolny has made a big impact on Yale in his three and a half years there. The number of applications to Yale has increased by 50% over the past five years and the school’s full-time faculty has grown by 20% (even as the school has deliberately reduced its class size). And while a school is so much more than its building, Yale SOM’s new campus (scheduled for completion in 2011) will stand as a testament to Podolny’s last impact on the school.

In an email to the Yale SOM community, Podolny expressed his bittersweet feelings about leaving behind Yale for Apple:

So even as I am excited about this new chapter in my life, I am very sad to be leaving SOM. However, I can state unequivocally that I would not consider leaving if I did not feel that the school was on a strong footing. As a school, we know who we are. We have embraced our distinct mission, and are singularly and fundamentally focused on cultivating a distinct model of leadership, a model that can and should be applied across industry and sector. We know we will soon have a spectacular new campus that will support and sustain our educational model. As a community of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we know what we must do to execute on the unique and necessary MBA curriculum that we have pioneered.

Podolny won’t actually join Apple until early 2009, and will stay on the Yale faculty and will continue to teach until then. He and the school are doing the right thing by getting the transition started now.

While we at Veritas Prep were mainly asking “What does this mean for Yale?” when we first heard the news, it also makes us wonder about Apple and its education initiatives. The company has in some ways returned to its education roots by embracing how colleges use its iPod and iTunes system to allow students to access a library of course lectures. While many in the press have speculated that the company’s Apple University will be a training program for employees, we wonder if it’s actually a much broader digital education play that Apple may make in the next couple of years.

For more advice about applying to Yale, visit the Veritas Prep Yale School of Management information page.

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