In picking their new dean, USC’s Marshall School of Business has found a candidate who certainly isn’t lacking in experience. USC announced this week that Geoffrey Garrett, the Wharton School’s current dean, will become Marshall’s dean in July 2020.
That news is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of USC’s deanship. Last December, USC abruptly announced that it was releasing James Ellis from his role as Marshall’s dean three years ahead of his contract’s expiration, sparking controversy at the school.
Announcing Garrett’s appointment, USC also named Gareth James, a professor of data sciences and operations, as Marshall’s interim dean for the year before Garrett’s contract begins.
Despite being Wharton’s dean, Garrett has ties to USC, where he was a professor between 2001 and 2005. Garrett, who described the move to Los Angeles as a “homecoming,” still owns a house in West Los Angeles.
While Wharton was ranked fourth in the Financial Times’s 2019 MBA rankings, USC Marshall came in at a more modest 46th.
Garrett described Marshall as a school with “tremendous momentum” and said he would arrive with “a great foundation on which to build.” He characterized the school as “innovative, entrepreneurial and global, with great faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.”
Given those resources, Garrett said his first order of business would be to listen and learn.
In his words: “I think I have a pretty good appreciation for the world of business and education and for what USC Marshall has achieved. But the DNA of the school is its people, and I have so much to learn from them and about them.”
Wanda Austin, USC’s interim president, said that Marshall “has found a tremendous leader in Geoffrey Garrett.” Carol Folt, who will take over as USC’s president in July, told the LA Times that she appreciated Garrett’s “student-centered” approach.
Despite the controversy over its deanship, USC Marshall has made positive headlines this year. Last fall, it became the first prominent MBA program to enroll a class of more than 50 percent women. The hiring of Garrett seems to be another indication that the school is on an upward trajectory.
For its part, Wharton doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. During Garrett’s tenure as dean, the school has brought in large sums of money and hovered near the top of major rankings.
Even if they now have Geoffrey Garrett in common, Wharton and USC remain very different schools that look for different qualities in applicants. As an applicant, you might be wondering how your profile lines up at schools like these.
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