Dean Robert J. Dolan to Step Down at Ross

Robert J. DolanLast week Robert Dolan, Dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, announced that he will step down at the end of his second term, due to end in summer 2011. His announcement signals the end of what has to be one of the most successful runs by a dean at a graduate business school over the past decade.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of Dolan’s impact on the school is its name: In 2004 the U. of Michigan Business School received a $100 million gift from Stephen M. Ross, founder of The Related Companies and majority owner of the Miami Dolphins. Ross’s gift helped transform the school, literally — in January, 2009, Ross opened its new state-of-the-art building, fondly referred to as Big Orange or The Big Orange House by some students and alumni.The building’s opening signaled a great deal of achievement for the MBA program under Dolan’s tenure.

More Than a Fancy New Building
Academically, Dolan also oversaw a significant evolution of the school’s program. Ross is one of the leading proponents of a teaching method known as “Action-Based Learning,” which is similar to experiential learning in that it fuses traditional classroom instructional models with myriad real-world scenarios and opportunities for hands-on learning. This, along with a renowned multidisciplinary projects approach, has given Ross a reputation for being a cutting-edge business school.

Under Dolan the school also launched and expanded its Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), which puts students into situations where leadership strengths are fostered and weaknesses are exposed (and addressed). If the description or mission of the program sounds vague, know that Ross has a very detailed roadmap for how RLI develops students. It begins with what is called a “foundation session,” which is a six-day orientation process (mandatory for all students) that starts with theory, ideas, and self-analysis.

What’s Next for Dolan and for Ross?
While it’s too early to start speculating who will replace Dolan at Ross, he did have this to say about the upcoming search process in an email to the Ross community:

I am proud of what we have accomplished together since the summer of 2001 and how we have worked together–through a historic naming gift, an ambitious facilities project, and several economic cycles–to strengthen the School and maintain its tradition of excellence.

More information about the process for determining a new Dean will be forthcoming. In the meantime, there is important work to be done, and I very much look forward to pursuing it together during the remainder of my term.

We don’t yet know where Dolan will go next (or whether he even knows), but with so many other high-profile dean positions open or soon opening at other top business schools, one would have to think that Dolan’s next stop could be another top-ten MBA program.

If you want to learn more about Ross, download our Ross Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Ross or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!