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Dunn to resign as Tepper School of Business dean

Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Staff Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Staff

Carnegie Mellon held a reception in Tartans Pavilion to honor Kenneth B. Dunn, who will be stepping down as dean of the Tepper School of Business at the end of the semester. This decision has not been an easy one for Dunn, as he has held a series of meetings at the business school to personally share with faculty, students, and staff the reasoning behind his decision and his insights on the future of the school.

“It’s been an honor to be dean of this special school within this special university,” Dunn said. “It’s an honor to be a dean of any great business school, but this one is very, very special.”

In addition to Dunn, Provost Mark Kamlet, President Jared Cohon, Pamela Dunn, Professor of Finance Chester Spatt, and David Tepper also spoke at the event, commending Dunn’s hard work and resulting successes while at the school.

“Ken has not only been an outstanding dean of the Tepper School, but I would go so far as to say he has been a seminal dean,” Kamlet said. “Dean Ken Dunn brought to the Tepper School a unique combination of having been a very successful academic — important for being able to lead the faculty; having a very good sense of Carnegie Mellon, which is where he spent his academic career — important for being an effective manager and leader within Carnegie Mellon, and a career with great success in the world of finance and the private sector — important for knowing the real needs of business, and bringing that to the curricula of the school.”

Cohon agreed, commenting that Dunn “has been a successful dean by any measure,” and further stating that “the school has improved every way possible.”

Dunn first joined the Carnegie Mellon community as a professor of financial economics in 1979. “The strength of Ken’s vision can also be appreciated for his academic work,” Spatt said. “A core aspect of this was his work was mortgages, and Ken was thinking about mortgages more than three decades before the financial crisis.” Cohon pointed out, “One of the things that’s important for a dean is to hold the respect of the faculty.… Ken started his career as a faculty member, so he came here with that respect.”

In 1987, Dunn went into the private sector to work at the investment firm Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd, which became Morgan Stanley after its aquisition in 1996. In 2002, Dunn retired as managing director at Morgan Stanley to return to Carnegie Mellon as dean of the Tepper School, then called the Graduate School of Industrial Administration.

“It’s been the hardest job I’ve ever had, but it’s also been the best and most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and I wonder If it could’ve been the best and most rewarding if it wasn’t the hardest,” Dunn said. “It was that challenge that made it really great to be here.”
“When we talked to Ken about him coming back, he needed no convincing,” said Cohon. “He basically said ‘I’m coming back to raise money for GSIA,’ and raise money he did.”

Dunn is probably most well known for facilitating the $55 million naming gift from Tepper, the largest gift in the history of Carnegie Mellon. However, students and faculty remember Dunn for much more than his help in securing the financial gift. His success as dean can also be seen in a series of statistics recently released in a university press release- the number of endowed professorships held by Tepper School faculty increased by more than 40 percent and the school’s admission test scores have seen significant gains, with an increase of 44 points in the average GMAT score since 2001.

“He was really, really an inspiring professor for me. One of those guys that people sometimes talk about when they talk about a teacher who changed their lives,” said Tepper, who, as an MBA student, had Dunn as a professor. “I describe Ken as more as a Moses…. Moses who has brought us to the promised land…. But Moses’ job is done when he got to the promised land. Ken, you’re not getting off the hook that easy.”

“As Ken’s deanship comes to a conclusion, he remains hard at work on the work of the school so to speak for the possibility of a new physical home for the school,” said Kamlet. “Under his deanship the school achieved a forward momentum upon which a new dean will be able to build.”

Dunn admits it’s an ambitious prospect, particularly after the recent building addition to the Tepper School, but he remains confident. “I remember people telling me ‘Ken, you look at the world through rose-colored glasses.’ Well, now everyone is wearing the same glasses,” said Dunn. “We have tremendous momentum, and I’m confident that this momentum will continue because we are now wearing the same glasses.”

A search committee is currently in the process of finding a successor to Dunn. Spatt is chairing the committee, which consists of several prominent Tepper faculty.

After resigning, Dunn and his wife, Pamela, plan to move to New York to be closer to their children, Amy and Brett Dunn. “We’ve rented an apartment on 72nd and Broadway,” Dunn said. “We’ll be close to Amy and close to Brett … and we’ll be [closer] to our grandson and our granddaughter, who we are expecting in late December.”