Ohad Kadan had the time, and he came to Arizona State with a plan.
The new dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business got the job in November 2o21 but didn’t take over until July; in that time, he tells Poets&Quants in a new interview, he decided that he needed to start his five-year term with big plans.
Big plans for a big school: Between undergraduate and graduate programs, the Carey School has more than 19,000 students, along with more than 300 faculty and another 300 staff. It is, in terms of raw numbers, the largest B-school in the United States.
“It’s a big organization,” says Kadan, who spent 20 years as a finance professor at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis before taking the top job at W.P. Carey. “Bigger than the entire WashU — not the business school, the university! And so for a big organization, as a new dean that’s a great time to revisit everything that we are doing and think long-term: Who do we want to be?
“What do we want to become? What’s our identity? What’s our goal? What’s our North Star?”
A SCHOOL ON THE RISE
Kadan has big shoes to fill at Arizona State. In her eight years in the job, former Dean Amy Hillman led the launch of numerous new degree programs including master’s degrees in finance and global logistics, an online master’s in business analytics, and a master’s in accounting in partnership with KPMG. She oversaw the school designating its MBA program as STEM, and in fall 2020 she led the launch of a 12-month “fast-track” MBA for working professionals.
Most notably, in 2015 Hillman made international headlines by making the Carey MBA entirely tuition-free. The “Forward Focus” MBA led to a dramatic increase in student quality which, in turn, sparked a rise in the rankings, including the Carey School’s first-ever berth in the U.S. News top 25. Though the school subsequently scaled back the scholarship program, every admitted student is still guaranteed a scholarship. The experiment put Arizona State on the map for thousands of graduate management candidates.
And there it remains: Hillman’s efforts continue to be reflected not only in the Carey School’s enrollment, which was up 8% in fall 2021 in graduate programs and 10% in the undergraduate program in 2022, but in the rankings, as well. In the latest P&Q list, Arizona State was 34th, up 10 spots in one year. The Carey School’s full-time MBA ranked 29th in the most recent U.S. News list (tied with Kadan’s Olin School at Washington University), including top-five rankings in Supply Chain and Project Management specializations, and its part-time MBA was 18th. Online, Carey’s MBA was ranked 20th by P&Q in 2021, up seven spots from 2020, and seventh (tied with Arizona’s Eller College of Business) in U.S. News‘ 2022 ranking. Its online bachelor’s program is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News this year.
ACCESS, EXCELLENCE & INNOVATION
Big shoes to fill at a big B-school. But Kadan, with two decades in the classroom and in various leadership roles at one of Carey’s peer schools, may be the perfect man for the job.
Kadan joined Washington University as an assistant professor of finance in 2002 after earning his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. An award-winning researcher and educator, his research covers different aspects of liquidity, information, risk, and incentives in financial markets, and his work has regularly appeared in top academic journals in his field. As a vice dean at Olin, he oversaw the Olin School’s undergraduate, graduate, and global programs, as well as its Center for Digital Education. He also spearheaded the introduction of multiple innovative programs with an emphasis on values, data, global orientation, and multidisciplinary collaboration.
It’s no surprise, then, that Kadan came to Carey with big plans, convening a steering committee in the first days to guide the launch of a strategic planning process. The committee “engaged all of the school’s stakeholders,” he says, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, the business community, and university leadership. “Everybody was invited to participate,” Kadan says.
What will come of it? What new initiatives will lure MBA and other master’s candidates to consider pursuing a degree in the desert? More programs, more investment in new areas, doubling down on DEI and ESG, and working closely with major business partners in Phoenix and the region — for a start.
“Our vision is to transform the world through access, excellence, and innovation in business knowledge while keeping our tradition, that the culture of business is personal,” Kadan says. “Access and excellence married is a unique feature of W.P. Carey in the ASU. It’s part of the leadership and the vision of (ASU President) Michael Crow. He’s a visionary in that space. And the way we are doing it is through the third leg, which is innovation. We just do things differently. We cannot do everything the same as everybody else because otherwise we’ll end up coming up short on either access or excellence. And so we are trying to create new programs, new approaches, be entrepreneurs, basically, in the education space — and as big as we are, we are insisting on this business in its personal approach.”
‘A VERY SPECIAL PLACE’
What would its new dean like more people to know about ASU Carey?
“We are the largest business school in the nation in terms of numbers,” Kadan says. “At the same time, we are one of the highest-ranked business schools in the nation. If 31 of our programs are ranked top 25 by U.S. News, it says something about our quality. So we are able to marry access and excellence, and we are very innovative in everything we do. And as big as we are, we still able to maintain our culture of caring for each other — that business is personal.
“So all of this — access, excellence, innovation, and caring for each other — maybe some people don’t recognize this, don’t understand that this is what’s going on here. It’s very special.
“Coming from a different school, I feel this is a very special place — all of the activities, all the innovation that goes along here, the many students that we have here — and yet the seeking excellence in everything that we do, is very, very special.”
See the details about Ohad Kadan’s plans for ASU Carey on page 2. It has been edited for length and clarity.
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