The Ross school of business at the University of Michigan has become the latest top US school to appoint a woman as dean. Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, will join the Ross school in August.

Last year the Kellogg school at Northwestern University, just outside Chicago, announced that it had appointed Sally Blount from NYU Stern as its dean, and the two join Judy Olian, who has been dean of the Anderson school at UCLA since January 2006.

All three women had been deans of less well-know business schools before taking up their new roles - Prof Blount of the undergraduate school at NYU, Prof Olian at the Smeal College of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University and Prof Davis-Blake at the Carlson school. This is a different scenario to the appointment of male deans at top schools - last year Harvard, Chicago Booth and NYU Stern all appointed deans from faculty positions.

Jerry Davis, Ross professor and head of the search advisory committee, says that Prof Davis-Blake’s experience as a sitting dean at a business school with a range of degree programmes had been a factor in her appointment.

“She impressed the committee with her grasp of the broad competitive landscape of business education, its future trends and the factors that distinguish Ross from the other top schools,” he says. “She has had great success working with faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors at Carlson, and the school’s reputation has risen accordingly.”

Prof Davis-Blake says that one of her priorities at Michigan will be to promote the school more actively on the world stage. “It (globalisation) is at the forefront of faculty minds,” she says. “The global profile needs to move forward.” At the heart of that will be executive education programmes, already taught through the school’s two overseas offices in Hong Kong and India.

Before moving to the Carlson school, Prof Davis-Blake worked at the McCombs school at the University Texas and at Carnegie Mellon University. She earned bachelor and masters degrees at Brigham Young University and a PhD from Stanford. Her research interests include the effects of outsourcing on organisations and employees, organisational promotion systems and wage structures.

Prof Davis-Blake will replace Bob Dolan who became dean at Ross in 2001. Like his successor, Prof Dolan was an outside appointment, having previously worked at Harvard Business School.

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