Letter from the Dean

When I was appointed Dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business by President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Phil Hanlon in July of 2011, I was charged by them with addressing a number of important challenges facing the school. Working together, our community has met those challenges and has also taken advantage of new opportunities that have arisen since then.

Together over the past four years, we have:

  • Created a differentiated and compelling strategy and value proposition via our mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world.

  • Introduced important curricular and co-curricular innovations in all of our degree programs and launched new academic programs--such as the Master of Management, the undergraduate Minor in Business, and our Executive MBA Program in Los Angeles--to meet evolving marketplace needs. These changes have significantly improved the student experience and increased applications to our academic programs.

  • Created innovative, global Executive Education offerings that have yielded a 70 percent increase in revenue and a return to the school of nearly $3 million this year.

  • Increased our global footprint and more than tripled the number of Ross undergraduates who have a global experience as part of their education. Graduate student participation in global experiences has increased by 40 percent.

  • Created 17 new global partnerships, including a significant partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to provide a Master of Management degree to their undergraduate engineering students.  

  • Strengthened our faculty and doctoral program through hiring 25 percent of all current tenure-track faculty, ensuring market-competitive compensation for our faculty, and improving support for research.

  • Restored the school to a healthy financial condition and generated reserves that will allow us to continue to make strategic investments in excellence.

  • Launched our capital campaign, for which we have already raised more than $277 million, including Steve Ross’ $100 million gift to fully transform our facilities, a $60 million gift from the Zell Family Foundation to support the activities of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, a $20 million gift from Steve and Karen Sanger to found the Sanger Leadership Center, and 19 additional gifts of $1 million or more. Our loyal and dedicated alumni have also stepped up to support the campaign at a grassroots level and increased their annual giving by 37 percent.

  • Collaborated with KPF Associates on the design for a state-of-the-art, architecturally unified business school campus that is on schedule for substantial completion in June of 2016.

  • Generated significant positive global media coverage that now regularly puts Michigan Ross in the top five among all business schools in monthly placements in top-tier media outlets.

  • Created a vision for and commitment to a positive work community that includes a more diverse faculty, staff, student body, and administrative leadership.

This year marks my 10th year as a business school dean across two institutions. During the past decade, I have learned that I particularly enjoy working with faculty, staff, and students to stabilize challenging situations and then create momentum toward extraordinary positive performance. Together, we have created that momentum at the Michigan Ross. 

Beyond the business school realm, there are significant challenges that face all universities, in both professional and liberal education. I find myself eager to contribute solutions to these larger challenges during what will surely be a time of significant change in higher education. After much consideration, I have decided to turn the focus of my professional service to the broader problems and opportunities facing universities. Consequently, I will step down from the deanship at the completion of my term on June 30, 2016. I am confident that Provost Pollack and President Schlissel will conduct a very successful search for the next dean of Michigan Ross. 

As a result of our work together and your support over the past four years, the future of the Ross School of Business is bright. I am proud of the work we have done to secure Michigan Ross’ position as one of the best business schools in the world, and I will always treasure the privilege of participating in this exceptional community. 


Alison Davis-Blake
Edward J Frey Dean
Stephen M. Ross School of Business