Earlier this week Jay Light, Dean of Harvard Business School for the past five years, announced that he will retire next June. The announcement comes nearly 40 years to the day after Light first joined the HBS faculty as a graduate of a new Harvard PhD program.
Light applied to HBS back in 1966, while working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was accepted, but ended up joining a new doctoral program between HBS and Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His long and distinguished career at Harvard has included serving as Chairman of the school’s Finance department, Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Planning, and Senior Associate Dean and Director of Planning and Development.
Harvard University President Drew Faust released an announcement yesterday on the HBS site:
Jay has been an exemplary leader in a school dedicated to the understanding and practice of leadership. In his years as dean, and throughout his decades at Harvard, he has done a great deal to define the distinctive character of Harvard Business School and to guide its strategy and progress in everything from MBA education to innovative executive programs, from global engagement to initiatives focused on health care and science… He has been and will remain a valued colleague and friend, for me and for a great many of us across Harvard.
Looking forward, it’s interesting to think about what opportuniteis and challenges Light’s successor will face. In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, when asked what decisions his successor, will have to make, Light answered:
I see three big areas. The first is the MBA program. How do we adapt the curriculum to ensure we’re preparing students to address the leadership challenges they’ll face in a rapidly changing, global world? How do we supplement what goes on inside the classroom, through small group or field-based experiences? The second is executive education. What kinds of programs should we be offering? Should we be doing less of some? Are there new opportunities in fields like health care and the management of science-based businesses? And the third would be in the School’s publishing division. Obviously, all publishing enterprises are having to rethink what they do and how they are structured as they move more and more of their content online. Harvard Business Publishing is no exception to that challenge, and the next few years will be critical.
President Faust indicated that the search for a new dean begins now. Light retires in June, and it’s safe to assume that Harvard will do everything it can to announce his replacement no later than then, if if that person doesn’t step into the role right away.
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