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UCLA Anderson Rejects All Three Candidates for Dean

What’s the difference between the MBA admissions process and the B-school dean search process? When it comes to hiring a dean, everyone can get rejected, apparently.

That’s what has happened at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, according to a new report from Poets & Quants. It seems that the university’s provost, Scott Waugh, has nixed all three final candidates for the deanship, explaining that “no consensus has emerged” on who to hire.

The finalists, who visited campus in the fall, weren’t exactly an unaccomplished bunch.

They included Thomas N. Hubbard, a strategy professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and former UCLA economics professor; Lisa D. Ordóñez, a vice dean of academic programs and applied business statistics professor at University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management; and G. ‘Anand’ Anandalingram, who was dean first of University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, then of Imperial College Business School. 

A key sticking point, according to the report from Poets & Quants, was that none of the candidates had a finance background. As a result, Anderson’s finance department reportedly put pressure on the university’s leadership to continue the search.

The decision to reject all final candidates for the deanship is unusual, but perhaps less so at UCLA Anderson. As Poets & Quants points out, Anderson’s previous dean, Judy Olian, was also hired after an initial failed search. 

That appointment ultimately led to Olian’s 12-year tenure, lasting until she stepped down last summer to become president of Quinnipiac University. With the current search stalling, interim dean Alfred Osborne Jr., a professor of global economics, management and entrepreneurship, remains at the helm. 

According to Poets & Quants, provost Scott Waugh has indicated that the search committee should now take a second look at candidates that it initially rejected, referring to the “many exceptional prospects” who remain in the applicant pool. 

The search is being led by consulting firm Korn Ferry, which recently helped UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business hire Ann Harrison as the school’s new dean.

At a time when several top B-schools are looking for deans, UCLA isn’t alone in seeing the search process drag on beyond the expected time frame. For example, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management remains under an interim dean as the school’s search continues. 

Fortunately for applicants, the MBA admissions process is more predictable than the dean hiring process. One difference is that when it comes to MBA admissions, someone always gets accepted!

While top MBA programs are highly competitive, there are concrete steps you can take to improve the odds of you being that person. For feedback on how to present your personal brand in a way that catches adcoms’ attention, sign up for a free MBA application assessment!