Srilata Zaheer was introduced to hundreds of faculty, students and business leaders as the new dean of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management on Thursday morning at the school in Minneapolis.

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Carlson School looks to itself for new dean

  • Article by: DEE DePASS
  • Star Tribune
  • March 8, 2012 - 9:13 PM

The University of Minnesota's business school has chosen one of its own as dean.

Srilata Zaheer, a professor at the Carlson School of Management since 1991, was named Thursday after an 18-member search committee conducted an international hunt for a new leader since June. Her appointment is expected to be approved by the board of regents Friday.

Zaheer has served as the school's interim dean and has taught or managed at the Carlson School for more than 20 years. She was among the four finalists considered to succeed Alison Davis-Blake, who resigned to become dean of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business last summer.

"She is much beloved by the students. She will make a superb dean. She is steaming to go," Provost Karen Hanson said.

Hanson announced Zaheer's appointment at a news conference Thursday morning, bringing cheers, whistles and a standing ovation from the hundreds of faculty, students and business leaders as Zaheer was escorted into the Carlson School's atrium by mascot Goldy Gopher.

Hanson praised Zaheer's "passion" for global business partnerships, her desire to expand Carlson's academic reach into other countries, and her ability to manage through tough budget cuts. The school has alumni in 78 countries and MBA programs in Poland, Austria, China and the United States.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Zaheer said that she was "extremely honored" to be chosen as dean. "I spent most of my academic career here, and this place is very special to me."

Valuing a global mission

Zaheer said she values the school's global mission and its business partnerships with the Deloitte consulting firm, Target, Best Buy, General Mills, Medtronic, 3M and the hundreds of other companies who regularly lecture, mentor and/or conduct projects with Carlson's 5,000 business students.

Zaheer also said she's committed to continuing Carlson's "very hands-on and high-touch" program. The school already has students managing a $40 million investment funds and managing different accounting and business projects with corporate partners. The school is also working to attract more U.S. military veterans to the school's MBA program, she said.

Zaheer learned last week that she would be Carlson's next dean. School benefactor Marilyn Carlson Nelson attended Thursday's ceremony along with people from across the university. U President Eric Kaler described Zaheer as "a scholar of international renown" and a person with "strong leadership skills and a gentle sense of humor."

As dean, Zaheer will earn a $480,000 salary, of which $270,000 will come from two endowed chairs that are funded by donations.

A native of India

Zaheer grew up in Chennai, India, and received her master's in business from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. She went onto become an internal auditor for a Swiss pharmaceutical firm before moving to Nigeria with her husband. There she taught at the university level for five years and discovered a love of teaching.

She moved to the United States and earned a doctorate in international business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was offered a teaching position at the Carlson School in 1991 soon after graduating from MIT. She previously served as the school's associate dean of faculty and research.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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