Of course, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic upended even the best laid plans. In response to recent events around COVID-19, HBS and Nohria have revised their plans, making it clear that Nohria will now stay on until the end of 2020.
Harvard University president Larry Bacow said that adjustment would provide some stability to the business school in an unstable year.
As he put it, “such near-term continuity during an uncertain time will serve HBS and Harvard well.” He added that keeping Nohria as dean through 2020 would allow the school to “give the ongoing dean search the full attention it deserves.”
During his decade at HBS, Nohria has overseen initiatives ranging from the creation of the school’s new online learning platform to the implementation of the field method, intended to supplement the traditional case method curriculum.
It now appears that one of Nohria’s final challenges as dean will be to lead the school through a global public health crisis.
Like other top B-schools in the United States, HBS has moved to remote instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, the school has announced that it will postpone its May 28 commencement ceremony in favor of a virtual degree-awarding event.
The school is maintaining a webpage with the latest on how COVID-19 is impacting its day-to-day functioning, which currently includes program cancellations and restrictions on campus visitors – but also commentary on COVID-19’s business impact from HBS professors.
In trying to simultaneously adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and use it as a learning opportunity, HBS isn’t alone among top business schools. For example, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently rolled out a new course on coronavirus’s impact.
As Nohria said in an email to the HBS community, the school is aiming to “bring our best creativity to reimagine the program for the remainder of the semester.”
Having Nohria remain as dean may well help with that effort, which led Bacow to call Nohria’s decision to prolong his tenure “an act of institutional commitment wholly characteristic of his profound devotion to HBS and to the University.”
For applicants considering HBS, that change can provide some comfort that a dean search won’t upend HBS in an already uncertain time.
While there’s plenty that remains to be seen about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it will affect top B-schools for the immediate future, applicants can concentrate on what’s in their control: putting together an application that effectively highlights their unique personal brand.
As always, we’re happy to help you progress toward that goal. Feel free to get in touch with us and ask us for personalized feedback with a free MBA application assessment!