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04: Gene Anderson on Transitioning Deanships and the First 100 Days

A peer-to-peer discussion with the Dean of the College of Business Administration & Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

Show notes: On this episode of Deans Counsel, moderators Ken Kring and Jim Ellis speak with Gene Anderson, Dean of the College of Business Administration & Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

This three-time dean offers advice on the importance of the first 100 days while transitioning into a new deanship; identifying and prioritizing initial challenges; forming new relationships among constituencies, and much more.

Gene Anderson Bio:

Gene Anderson is the Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, and a member of the Katz faculty. He was named the eighth Haller Dean, effective August 1, 2022.

Anderson joined Pitt Business from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University where he was dean from 2017-22. Prior to that assignment, he served for five years as dean of the University of Miami Business School. He began his academic career at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, moving up the academic ranks and serving in a series of leadership roles including senior associate dean for academic affairs, associate dean for degree programs, and academic director for the Executive MBA program.

Anderson is a highly respected scholar. His research on customer satisfaction and business performance has been published in all four premier academic marketing journals and he has served on their respective editorial boards. Three of his papers ranked among the Top 50 most impactful articles on research and practice. One is the second most cited article in Marketing Science. Overall, his work has received more than 5,000 Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) citations and over 43,000 Google Scholar citations.

A native of Pittsburgh, Anderson earned his Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Chicago, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the

University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign. He and his wife, attorney Sheryl Manning, have a son and a daughter. Connect with Dean Anderson via his LinkedIn account and @PittBizDean Twitter account.

Show Transcript

Dave 0:13

Welcome to Dean's Council, a podcast aimed at supporting university leaders holding one of the more critical jobs on University campus. Your panelists, Ken Kring, Jim Ellis and Dave Ikenberry engage in conversation with highly accomplished Dean's and other academic leaders regarding the ever complex array of challenges Dean's face in one of the loneliest and most unique jobs in the academy. Transitioning into a new dean ship is always challenging. There's a new environment to learn a new set of relationships to master and a new budget picture to understand among a myriad of other challenges. Of course, throughout this time, expectations among all schools, various constituencies is typically running quite high. In this episode, we learned from someone who has gone through this startup experience several times. for over 20 years, Gene Anderson has served in senior leadership roles, much of that as dean of three separate business schools, both public and private. After spending a decade as senior associate dean at Michigan's Ross School of Business, and working with and learning from several legendary academic mentors, Gene went on to lead the business schools at both the University of Miami and Syracuse University. In August of 2022, he started her new role as dean of the cat School of Business Management in College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. In this episode, Gene shares his experiences in these different organizations. And we hear his advice on how to best prioritize and tackle the remarkable challenge each new dean faces in their first 100 days as they assume a new leadership role.

Ken 1:56

So Gene Anderson, great to have you here today, the University of Pittsburgh Dean, you're in a relatively new role there. But frankly, you know, as we've had our conversations, we have high regard for the arc of your career as a dean, having been a dean now, this will be your this is the beginning of your third institution, and have been in academic leadership positions for most of your academic career. So you bring a tremendous amount of experience and perspective, from as we noted, both leading public universities and the business schools and private universities. So I think as we start out to be very interesting to hear you just comment on sort of the arc of your experience and some of the contrasts and comparisons between one institution and another.

Gene Anderson 2:55

Oh, my Well, first of all, thank you guys again for for inviting me and thick I have I have I have something of value to share for your for your audience and everything. So the Ark I hope it's on the upswing still on the upper part of if it's gonna be an ark. I hope I haven't I haven't hit the zenith of it or the perigee yet, but But it's been Yeah, it's been it's been interesting. So yeah, as you said, some publics and privates. I think some of the interesting things about them as I was, you know, I started my career at a public that behaves as a private and then went on to, to be a dean at multiple privates, some of which behaves more like Publix than the public that I was at to begin with. So I'll give you just kind of a brief sketch and then and then we can we can we can dive in to whatever you want to double click on. So Michigan was a great place for me to, for me to start out I was the institution, of course, is a terrific one. And I was really fortunate to learn and and basically from watching and working with some really great people, Gil Whittaker, who was, I think he was on his third Dean ship at Michigan and later after being provost at Michigan went on to be dean at Rice. Joe White, who was a wonderful Dean and leader in the 90s at Michigan and went on to be president of the University of Illinois, Bob Dolan. Allison Davis, Blake, Ted Schneider, Paul Dan, just a wonderful group. And each one of them they were all well rounded at a high level but also pointy in some some respects. Gil was a great negotiator. Joe was a great communicator. Bob Dylan was a great strategist Alice and a great pragmatist and getting things done. Ted was great at everything. And and so I've learned a lot from watching each each one of them that I hope I carried forward to the, to the to the schools that I got asked to be to be dean at. And those were different. Yeah. So Miami, Su, Syracuse. And so there's University of Miami and Florida, of course, and Syracuse, the Whitman School of Management there and then pit. They're all very different from one another and from Michigan, but I guess so some of the things they haven't they're, I guess they're all in ACC. So I've been working my way through the ACC, I think I'm hopefully done with that excited to land land land here in Pittsburgh, I think the common things about them lots, lots of opportunity for innovation at each one, some really good local and distinctive assets to draw on at each one. Miami, it was really the, you know, the Miami location, kind of gate gateway to the Americas and a great place to be working on international business and things like sustainability. Syracuse was all about that connection to New York City, and really upping the game with experiential learning and teaming up with the other great professional schools on campus. And I'm seeing some opportunities like that here in Pittsburgh there, there are wonderful things going on, especially in the healthcare sector around innovation, automation, robotics, advanced manufacturing, some some really interesting assets to an end the rest of the university to try to try to draw on and, and so I think what what's in common across them is trying to identify what's distinctive about them, and find ways to bring together the strengths of the school with the strengths and the needs of the communities that it's that the school serves, in distinctive ways that translate into great outcomes for students, number one, and hopefully into great research opportunities for faculty number number two, and we can dive more into into strategy and stuff like that when we will, as we as we go forward. But so those have been some of the common things. And I think a lot of the commonality in terms of what I was able to contribute was sharpening up strategy and the schools brand and identity in each case, Part Part of that's probably driven because I'm the marketing guy, and that stuff comes naturally. And then a lot of it trying to, again, leverage the distinctive assets that each school seemed to have, and probably most importantly, trying to strengthen and diversify the faculty at each one of the schools. So those were some of the common things.

Jim 7:52

Question for you on the on the bureaucracy? Did you feel a difference in bureaucracies between a private institution and a public one were your leadership skills had to vary just based on the fact that organizationally, it was different creativity and the ability to make decisions was different in terms of the authority you are given visa vie responsibility? Did you find that different in terms of public versus private?

Gene Anderson 8:23

Very much so but not in the direction that you're that you may be thinking, Michigan was, I think I referred to earlier as I grew up at a public that behaved as a private and then move to smaller private schools that were there was a lot more shared governance, shared services, shared decision making, all the way across the board. So Michigan, very classic, RCM approach to to the way the university ran, and the way the university was, was governed. And so the individual schools and colleges have a lot of latitude, a lot of decision making latitude in terms of budgets in terms of faculty hiring, in terms of what we were, what we were going to do with our programs and things going forward. So we had a lot more there was a lot of flexibility there and fewer essentially tubs, a tub on your own bottom at each one of those schools. The experience that I've had and I'm still getting to know Pitt, which is somewhere in between, but Miami, Syracuse, much more tightly integrated with the central administration, a lot stronger university governance across across the university. So what the business school did, you would have to make sure you're you're we're gonna get the other schools and colleges on board to get things through University Senate and then So many of the, of the services that whether it was development or human resources, it, many of those many of those things were much more shared at at Miami and Su, than they were than they were at Michigan. And so there was a lot more a lot more different parties to deal with, on every decision that you were that you were trying to make internally, and, and a lot more oversight and approvals around around budgets around staff and faculty hiring, and elements like that. So I kind of I kind of went from a from a public that behaved as a private to privates that behave more like more like you might expect the public to behave.

Jim 10:53

Yeah, the one thing that kind of hits me, Michigan obviously adds a critical mass. And that gives you just huge latitude in terms of innovation, etc. Because you've got funding that you can pull out of different accounts and say, I'm going to use this I'm going to do this and, and being a big school like that, whether I mean, kudos to them for being public and acting private I got. And that's why it's such a great institution. Yeah,

Gene Anderson 11:18

yep. And it is both is it's the school's level of resources and the university's levels, level of resources. And then the scale of it. Because it allows them to run an RCM because these other schools I've been at have had RCM like models, but they don't they don't adapt in the same way to medium sized institutions as they do to large scale institutions. So so the scale is what, in a lot. The combination of scale and resources is, is what provides you with a lot more independence, a lot more latitude of decision making and authority. So you can Yeah, you can, you can do a lot more, you're accountable for a lot more, and you have to own a lot more. But you have you have a lot more flexibility at a larger scale institution like that that's run like Michigan,

Jim 12:12

how much did your fundraising come into play on something like that in terms of development and being able to generate funds? That you could use yourself in the school?

Gene Anderson 12:23

Yeah, so So that was one of the shared services? Where is it at? I grew up at Michigan with a with probably 20 People at the business school who were involved in fundraising and development. And I was involved a lot in identification, qualification bringing, bringing at least modest amounts of money and getting to ask, obviously, my dean at the time, Bob Dolan, got to ask for the big dollars. But the interesting challenge at both Miami and Syracuse was, you were working with a much a much more, much more of a hub and spoke kind of, of arrangement with the with the central development folks. So you had to, you had to collaborate much more closely had to get approvals to do a lot of things before before you could go out and do them. And they were they were particularly both schools, both schools, particularly careful about moving their highest value prospects and donors into the central pool. And so that that would always pose a challenge when you're, when when you especially if you have had big ideas, and you were and you were looking for ways to start new centers start new Institute's it became a it's much, much more of a of a team game than then then kind of your individual ability to, to get out, cultivate and grow relationships and to raise the money that you need to, especially for transformative gifts.

Ken 14:04

In I got to know you at Michigan, and got to know your reputation of Michigan from the mentors whom you understudied. And I know that you were more than an internal Dean, but you but you were, in many ways an internal Dean and did a tremendous amount of initiative, new programs. I mean, you were involved in, in a lot of different disciplines, which I would imagine helped spawn your transition into becoming a dean, but interested to hear sort of, where did you What parts of the playbook were you able to bring? What were you not able to bring? How did you how did you sort of get up to speed in a new environment?

Gene Anderson 14:50

Now that's a that's a that's a great question cats. I think, I think probably two of the things for example, that Michigan does extremely well that I was able to Get to get involved in and have a lot of great experience. And one was, as you were talking about working with other disciplines, other schools and colleges, the place had when I was there, maybe 18 to 20, dual degrees, joint degrees with other schools and colleges, maybe 20 to 30 faculty who had joint appointments across the University on a faculty of 120 130. And then some great well, institutes and centers that were kind of jointly run between business and engineering or business and the School of Natural Resources around sustainability, for example. And so that, that desire to do things cross disciplinary, you know, going after some of the grand, the grand challenges that were that we're facing, teaming up with other disciplines to do that. I carried that with me, I was certainly certainly able to draw on data a lot on that experience, and having that kind of a template in mind, or example in mind, when developing strategy and working through things at both Miamian and Su. And I think the other the other part, besides the interdisciplinary part was around experiential learning. Michigan has a long, long history in that area developed a flagship experience for its first year MBAs, back in 1991 1990. Two's Joe whiten, and Paul dinos led the innovation there. And I learned a lot from the experience of running that program while I was in the Dean's office at at Michigan. And so I've carried that I've carried both the idea of how important experiential learning is, and how instrumental it is to to, both to the students and kind of raising the level in the game of programs with me, as I've gone forward, as well as kind of some of the best practices of how to do it. So those would be two things that that have played. And then I think a third would be just kind of the combination of, of learning. You mentioned, the people, some of the people I listed that I learned from, I think the approach that I took to kind of working with, with it with a school with a community really, to develop kind of a shared strategic orientation and commonly agreed upon goals and then pursue them. I think a lot of that came from a combination of seeing the power of of having a clear, clearly articulated strategy and priorities and the power of having great communication around around those and I I'll never be as good a strategist as Bill hopper is good. Communicator is Joe White was but I think I was able to draw a lot on what I learned from from from folks like that, that served me well, and I hope served the schools that I was at, well, as I've gone from one dean ship to the next here,

Jim 18:19

as you've gone from one dealership to the next. You've, as you alluded to earlier, you've you've got very different anything but different budgeting strategies and RCM on one end and all the other ways people do it on the other. What do you recommend to a brand new dean coming in? Who really in terms of comprehension of that, that's the budgeting strategy? I mean, it seemed to me that, you know, that's a really important thing to know what levers you can pull, what levers you can pull from a financial standpoint. You know, how do you how do you recommend to somebody that's a newbie in a job going about that process?

Gene Anderson 19:01

Yeah. I mean, that's, that is, as you're, you astutely. allude alluded to that is one of the most important things you have to do early on, is really understand the budget model that's in place at at your university and use and use your knowledge at that start identifying how you should set priorities and what kind of levers you can you can pull to go forward. So we're in a transition here at Pitt from a more traditional university pi model of budgeting to to an RCM. Like, kind of kind of approach and so I'm, I'm really excited about that, because I feel like I have, you know, several decades of experience with with different kinds of budget models. So I'm really looking forward to diving in as we make this transition, but, but it's it's so important. It's so important to have For a great, really good senior staff in that, in that budget role that you can, that you can talk to and get to know to start making connections with the whatever, there's always going to be a vice provost of budgets or Faculty Affairs, financial things, you got to get to know those folks very well, early on, it's always good to talk to some of the deans that have been, especially if the budget model has been in place for a while. Great to talk to some of the other Dean's on campus, especially with professional school Dean's about some of the ins and outs. So, and make make friends with them, take them to dinner, get a nice bottle of wine, and, you know, and and see what comes back, you know, what you what you what you can learn about things. So all those who really, and then you have to get some of your faculty, the faculty are always interested in wanting to dive in on this. And if you can get the right folks, especially coming from accounting, finance, to partner with you, and try to understand the budget model that can that can help with things. And it's, you know, it's been really instrumental for, for what I've done at each one of these, each one of these schools at Michigan, Bob and I were one of the first to kind of really dive in and understand what the RCM model meant for different programs that we were running and then use that to prioritize across the programs that we wanted to that we wanted to grow that we wanted to, to develop. And then coming coming into Miami. That was the challenge there was they had a university pai model at the undergraduate level. And then they had kind of an RCM like model at the graduate level. And they just kind of moved to that. So it was one of these where you, you had to pay a certain percentage of your revenue to the share, I'm sorry, share a certain percentage of your revenue with the with the provost office, maybe I should say that the Provost Office was willing to share a certain percentage of the revenue with us would be a more appropriate way to say it. But but but understanding what that meant that that drove our and how it would apply the different kinds of programs that we were offering that drove our strategy there and generated a lot of resources that allowed us to do the other things that we wanted to do develop faculty, build our Alumni Relations and Development areas and stuff like that. And the same, the same thing was true at at Syracuse. So really, I think you hit the nail on the head. At the beginning, you really, really want to make that one of your your top priorities early on. Getting getting to know how the budget model at the university really works. Because at the end of the day, that's what's going to that's that's what's going to help make or break whatever strategy you put together. Because if you don't, if you don't have the levers to pull to get the resources that you need to pursue priorities, it's it's it's gonna be rough sledding.

Ken 23:16

On a related note, how do you start up in a new dean ship? terms of building credibility, trust with internal constituencies and external constituencies? And what kind of experiences or insights can you share with particularly with new Dean's who are likely to be stepping into, you know, some release some new phase of constituent management.

Gene Anderson 23:43

So think things that I think have worked? Well, your dean ship does not begin on your start date, your dean ship begins, begins, actually begins during the search process, but but it really begins when the announcement comes out. And so I think the more quickly you can reach out to key people, keep people at the school and some of the maybe key board members, you know, obviously the board chair, some of the more important donors, reach out, introduce yourself, you know, ask them about their experience at the school and getting a note so that's that I think, you've got to start those relationships right away. And reach out to them I think the sooner you can get on campus and to be seen and to be visible, the better. One thing I should learn from these transitions is I should accept the job earlier in the year I have never never gotten gotten an offer before like the the middle of May. And so it gives you a very short runway to get going but if you have a longer runway you can you can do you can do a lot. It's kind of a soft start. To to get to know know people I think through that process, and certainly in the early days, the communication side of things is, is super important. And, and one thing I've tried to do is communicate things like, you can't, obviously no one is going to, if you're smart, you're not going to walk in and start saying, Well, I think we should do this, this and this, right. But what you can do is, is communicate aspirations and values. You know, you can talk about what's important yet, you value High Impact Research, you have value, you know, program innovation, you value Equity, Diversity, and making statements upfront that communicate what what people might expect going forward. Right, by letting people know, it's kind of kind of communicating a value based direction, rather than specific directions is one way I think about it. It's, I think it's, I think it's important for people to start to get to know the shape that your dean ship might, might start to assume as it moves forwards, making those value statements can help to indicate what kinds of things are going to be a high priority for you as you as you as you come in. So that's that that's certainly one thing, I think, related to that coming in is, this kind of goes back to relationships. But as you actually are setting foot on campus, those first few weeks, months are a really important time to be identifying who the really key people are, who are the pillars of the faculty, you know, who has influence who has decision making power within the faculty. Same with the senior staff, who are the senior staff who you're really going to rely on going forward. And then the same with your with your boards and with your advisory boards. And maybe one of the most recognized is that those people may not be the first ones at your door that you met, you may have to talk to a lot of people to kind of start to figure out where they have the affinity or arrows and the influence arrows run within the with within a place. So those are some of the key things getting going and then it doesn't take long before people start the conversations. For many for a while start with Well, how's it going so far, but they pretty soon start to change over to. So what do you think we should be doing? Right? It doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't take long. And I think it's getting shorter. But I think you still need to be cognizant that you are the new person, and you're still learning about the place. But I think you want to give people a sense that you are gaining insights, and that you're testing ideas. And I think as early as you can start to reflect back what you're hearing, and, and getting, you know, getting people's input, getting feedback on that. I think there really is something to this 100 day thing, I think if you I think by the time you get to 100 days, you have to be able to stand up, you know, in a town hall with faculty and staff and say, This is what I think we're facing. And this is where I think we need to focus. And this is how we're going to get organized to really, to really address these issues and go after them. But I think how you get to that point is important. Right? You need to it needs to be collective and collaborative. And because I think people even though you're going to be ultimately responsible for shaping a vision, and priorities, you want to do it as collectively as possible. So it's both kind of bottom up and top down.

Jim 29:17

It's so interesting you say this, I go back to my first introduction to the faculty in the meeting where the provost kind of says, Here's your new dean, and then he leaves the room and I said, anybody got any questions? And the very first question was, so what did the President Provost tell you we have to do here at Marshall? And I said, guys, they didn't tell me anything. That's our job to figure it out. What do you think they've they're setting an agenda. It's our agenda. We get to do this. And they kind of look at me like, Oh, really? I said, Yeah, and then then the next one says, next one says, so what about raising money? How are you going to be able to raise money? Do you know how to raise money? And then within a week, it's Have you raised any money? Well, how are you doing? It? I think I'm walking around with my handout. You know, say, Hi, Steve, I need 10 million bucks for this. Senator, can you? Wait, guys? Look, we got to talk about building relationships. There's, and it's so interesting, the fact of the while they want to give you the honeymoon, they don't want to give you the honeymoon because they're antsy. And like you say, and the 100 days, I think if we, if we could get ourselves that, that the 100 days would just be the right number. It just feels right. You're absolutely right about that. It's so good that you said that. And I hope that Dean's listen to that, because it really isn't important. That's just, it's a number. But on the other hand, it's a good gauge as to where you are three months into the process,

Gene Anderson 30:57

that's very well, and actually it is related to and feeds into what you were saying about development and philanthropy, you have to develop relationships, you can't, you can't walk into a meeting with a board member and ask them for money on the first on the first visit, unless that's been very well teed up, right, by by everyone. But the quicker you can get to, you know, here's, here's, here's what we're facing. And here's what we need to focus on end could start to articulate what the vision and priorities are going to be going forward. And of course, it's good if you've engaged the advisory board and some of the potential donors in that conversation. But the sooner you can you have that narrative, the more quickly you're going to be able to start turning that into development strategy and turning it into real gifts, that and being able to put yourself in a position to ask for for gifts to help support the strategy.

Ken 32:03

Well, Gene, Experience matters and the quality of experience and the diversity of experience. And it comes through in this conversation. This is really lots of lots of great insights to share with others. And we just really appreciate your being available for this conversation.

Jim 32:23

Great, it's really been great, terrific.

Gene Anderson 32:25

Thanks to both of you for for inviting me, I hope I've offered at least a few ideas or insights that'll be that'll be helpful to someone out there. Thanks again and take care.

Jim 32:40

I thought that was very, very good. It was a an experienced, professional, administrative leader, really sharing his thoughts, not only how he is a leader, but how he also learned to be a leader, from the mentors upon whose shoulders he stands.

Ken 32:57

That's really interesting. I mean, he was really able to cite, you know, different things that he got from different, I mean, really, the mentee to the mentor, all valued those experiences. And he also drew tremendous amount from his early experience and figured out sort of what applied and what didn't apply. Good strategic mind, you know, being able to adapt to different situations.

Jim 33:28

You know, that's the marketing guy in him that has the flexibility to really understand who the customer is and how to adapt to the customer any put that in practice, every single time he hit the ground and hit the ground running. And I like his other is other thought to brand new Dean's in particular, don't wait till your first day on campus, as a new dean, wait until the day you've been appointed, and then go and go. And you know, there's a there's people that tend to be loyal to the their existing institution and want to finish everything up before they leave. It doesn't happen. You're never going to get it all done. You have to understand now that you are really a lame duck and you are really working for your new institution and get going. Make some phone calls. You know, you don't take the whole day, but just get started right away.

Ken 34:24

Yeah, and he really validated the 100 day, you know, cliche, not cliche, it's actually for real and he actually was able, in a very natural way to talk about what some of the stepping stones are to being to ensuring that those first 100 days are really productive and lay the foundation for what comes next.

Jim 34:46

Yes, yeah, that really, it really does lay the foundation because this is where the vision is gonna come from is what you've learned and gleaned from those conversations you've had in those first few months. That 100 day thing I think is just such a great It really isn't a cliche as you say it really is. It's valuable in the time work. So I was really happy to hear him say those kinds of things.

Ken 35:08

Also the vast experience he's had in finance with budgeting systems and really understanding the whole institutional and organizational culture, being influenced by, by financial model, and then and then sort of building your capabilities around those different ways of operating.

Jim 35:32

Yeah, your key guy there is going to be your, your senior associate, Dean, CFO, whatever you call them at the school level, who then will make sure that you get into the conversations with the people at Central as to those strategies, and you've got to be a total lockstep with your finance guy. And then that finance person's got to help you get in lockstep with the university so that, again, very invaluable in terms of the thought there that was great. I think it was an excellent, excellent time well spent. Good.

Dave 36:06

Thank you for listening to this episode of Dean's Council. This show is supported in part by Korn Ferry leaders in executive search. Dean's Council was produced in Boulder, Colorado by Joel Davis of analog digital arts. For a catalogue of previous shows, please visit our website at Dean's If you have any feedback for us, please let us know by sending an email to feedback at Dean's And finally, please hit follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player so you can automatically receive our latest show


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