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商院动态:Why Stanford Named Jonathan Levin Its New B-School Dean  

2016-12-19 04:44:14|  分类: 学校与选校 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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商院动态:Why Stanford Named Jonathan Levin Its New B-School Dean


 BY: MARC ETHIER ON JUNE 01, 2016

 

 

When Jonathan Levin’s father was named president of Yale University in 1993, the general consensus was that Richard Levin would certainly have his hands full. After all, it was said, he had taken on what many considered a turnaround job at Yale with scant administrative experience, little recognition and little gravitas.

The same cannot be said of his 43-year-old son, Jonathan, who will become the dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business on Sept. 1. Though his resume is short on leadership knowhow, Jonathan Levin boasts big time academic gravitas, having won the John Bates Clark Medal, one of the economics profession’s highest honors and often a harbinger of a Nobel Prize.

While some MBA students and alumni believe the university could have hired an accomplished “rock star” already in the business school world, Levin’s academic colleagues lavish much praise on the man whose appointment was announced last week (May 23) by the university. They uniformly describe him as a well-liked team player, a down-to-earth person of high integrity and deep intellect.

Many echo the words of Darrell Duffie, who teaches finance at the GSB and believes Levin’s appointment “makes perfect sense. His research taste and depth in a number of key areas, such as market design, make him a natural choice to lead the GSB. Jon has the complete package of leadership skills.”

A NEW, AND UNFAMILIAR, ROLE

Levin was given the nod after a long and intensive search lasting nearly eight months. That search by a 13-person committee co-chaired by Provost John Etchemendy unearthed multiple candidates. In choosing Levin, however, the university effectively made a safe choice, narrowing in on a highly pedigreed candidate known to both President John Hennessy and Provost Etchemendy. Levin currently serves on the university budget group, which puts together the university’s $5 billion-plus budget and capital plan, and reports directly to Etchemendy. Since at least 2010, Levin’s university service on various commitees and councils, including the provost’s diversity cabinet, suggest a grooming of sorts for an administrative role. Those assignments would have given him exposure to the university’s most influential leaders.

As dean, Levin, a professor at Stanford since 2000 who chaired the university’s economics department for three years until 2014, will lead a school with a $225 million annual budget, 1,000 students and 272 faculty members — an administrative role for which he seems to have had little preparation, having worked in applied economics with interests in industrial organization, market design and the economics of technology.

His Department of Economics colleagues seem unconcerned that Levin will rise to the new challenge. They laud him for his commitment to research and teaching, his intellectual range, and, drawing a contrast with his predecessor, stress that he is a “unifier.” They uniformly say he is well-liked and admired by just about everyone and is a team player rather than a lone wolf.

HIS WORK CUT OUT FOR HIM

Levin “has an extraordinary ability to get the input of very different groups of stakeholders,” says Timothy Bresnahan, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. “As chair, he was universally respected by students, faculty, friends of Stanford and the university administration. He’s a unifier who, having taken counsel with a lot of different folks, will draw on his own ability to see the right answer and bring people on board to it.”

Levin succeeds scandal-plagued Garth Saloner, who announced his retirement last fall after news broke of his affair with a professor, Deborah Gruenfeld, who was married to another professor at the school. Even as he carried on the affair, Saloner continued to preside over personnel decisions impacting the husband, Jim Phills, who alleged that he was dismissed from his position and has since sued the university.

Levin’s new role comes with other complications, including accusations by 46 current and former GSB employees who accused Saloner of disrupting the collegial, close-knit culture of the school and turning it into an environment of fear and intimidation. Those current and former employees had unsuccessfully urged the university not to reappoint Saloner to a second term, claiming that he created a “hostile workplace” in which staff, particularly women and people over 40, were hounded out of jobs and roles amid numerous violations of Stanford’s Code of Conduct and HR policies (see Anatomy Of A Rebellion: Inside The Revolt Against Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner).

What the scandal hasn’t diminished is the business school’s popularity among applicants and students. Levin will become dean of the most highly selective elite business school in the world. Stanford receives nearly 20 applications for each of the 406 seats in its incoming class, accepting little more than 6% of its applicant pool. The school’s graduates are the most highly compensated MBAs in the world. Last year, the median total pay package–including base, signing bonus and guaranteed year-end bonus–came to a record total of $160,287.

 

CREDITED WITH SEMINAL CONTRIBUTIONS

After earning undergraduate degrees in math and English from Stanford in 1994, Levin went on to earn an MPhil in economics from Oxford University in 1996 and a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999. He joined Stanford as an assistant professor in 2000 and became a full professor in 2008.

He has been able to balance a demanding academic career with a full family life. His wife of nearly 17 years, Amy Beth Levin, is a Yale-trained internist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. They have three young children, Madeline, Benjamin, and Noah. Levin quips that his father’s move to Silicon Valley two years ago to be CEO of online education provider Coursera was in part motivated by his grandchildren.

Levin’s academic accomplishments did not come easy, however. In response to a question on Quora, where he has nearly 14,000 followers, Levin confided that once he finished his graduate classes he was “getting nowhere” trying to find an idea for a paper on the job market. “I was working every minute but at the end of every day I’d pretty much throw out all my notes,” wrote Levin. “Research can be incredibly frustrating when you are getting nowhere.”

He credited his MIT advisor, Bengt Holmstrom, for helping to pull him out of that slump. “I had another period after I’d started as an assistant professor where I was having trouble finding ideas and didn’t feel my research was going that well,” he added. “That went on for longer, and my solution was to find co-authors. The great thing about working with co-authors, apart from learning from them, is that even if a project isn’t going great or a paper gets rejected, it’s a shared experience.”

THE QUINTESSENTIAL NARRATIVE OF A SUCCESSFUL ACADEMIC CAREER

Yet, Levin’s seven-page CV reveals little of that struggle. It is the quintessential narrative of a highly successful academic career, replete with multiple awards, grants and fellowships, stints as an editor on several scholarly journals, invited lectures at universities in Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and elsewhere, as well as consulting assignments with Comcast, eBay, Google, Yahoo and others.

His 34 published articles, almost always with co-authors, range from “The Economics of Internet Markets” and “The Impact of Credit Scoring on Consumer Lending” to “The Data Revolution and Economic Analysis” and “Economics in the Age of Big Data.”

Perhaps most importantly, Bresnahan says, are Levin’s “seminal contributions to some of the most deep and difficult areas of economic theory and to some of the most technically demanding areas of empirical economics.” Furthermore, the new GSB dean has “written about extremely applied problems in organization design and in market design in a simple and straightforward way, where you suddenly realize that he has explained the essence of the problem to you.”

‘WITHOUT PERSONAL AGENDA’

Levin has studied undergraduate college admissions, the strategies of sellers on Ebay, and auctions for timber and subprime loans for cars. After winning the Clark medal, economist Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakanomics, made the observation that “economists are a highly critical, often petty lot. Praise of one economist by another is infrequent. Yet, when it comes to Jon Levin I cannot remember anyone saying anything negative about him.”

That assessment seems true. Among his Facebook friends are Harvard MBA and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; Susan Athey, an economist who teaches at the GSB and is the first woman to ever win the Clark medal in 2007, and Deborah Gruenfeld, the GSB professor who was in the center of the business school’s sex and leadership scandal involving Dean Saloner.

“Jon is a person with a genuine commitment to research and teaching, and a great team player,” says Jeremy Bulow, a professor at the Graduate School of Business. “He is without a personal agenda. You can count on him making thoughtful decisions that will be entirely about what is best for the school.

“Jon will be great at explaining to our alumni the importance of our dual mission of research and teaching; he will work very well with the faculty and staff in advancing both of those missions, and he is a person who will both listen hard and be sympathetic to student concerns.”

 

LIKE FEDEX TO THE ITALIAN POST OFFICE

Levin has thus far eschewed media interviews, saying only in a prepared statement that “It will be an honor to join such a committed, dedicated faculty and to support their mission of applying both academic rigor and real-world relevance to their research. Deepening our understanding of management and bringing that knowledge into the classroom couldn’t be more exciting.”

But Bulow, while acknowledging his colleague’s achievements, emphasizes Levin’s “clear thinking,” saying the economist has a “remarkable breadth of intellect” and that his “turnaround time, even on difficult problems, is amazing. Most economists, even very good ones, are like the Italian post office in this regard. Jon is like FedEx.”

Another GSB professor, Andrzej Skrzypacz, says he has no concern over Levin’s lack of administrative experience, citing the new dean’s sterling reputation in “being able to be a bridge between people with different interests,” as well as his ability as Department of Economics chair to “convince different groups with different interests to make compromises.”

‘EVERYBODY LIKES HIM’

Skrzypacz has known Levin since they both arrived at Stanford in 2000. Neighbors and friends, they even recently finished a forthcoming paper together.

“When I was meeting with the committee that was working on selection of the new dean, I suggested a couple of names, and he was my number-one choice,” Skrzypacz says. “But I don’t think they chose him because of me! I know there were several people in the school who thought he would be right for the position. …

“The Economics Department, as you know, over the last ten years has been incredibly successful in hiring and he has been partially responsible for that. On the research side, everybody likes him: theorists think very highly of him because he’s done very good theoretical work, and empiricists think very highly of him because he’s also done very good empirical work.”

But it may be Levin’s extroverted nature, Skrzypacz says, his interpersonal skills, that really set him apart. “If you met him without knowing that he’s an academic, I think you would have a hard time guessing that he is one. Everybody likes him.”

ADVERBS APLENTY IN LEVIN’S CAREER

Bresnahan says his reaction to the news of Levin’s appointment was that, “Whoa, this moves a terrific scholar and colleague out of my department. A loss to us, though obviously a huge gain for Stanford.”

Bresnahan has known Levin since the new GSB dean was a teenager and has worked closely with him since his arrival at Stanford.

“Jon has both intellectual and human features that will help him as dean,” he says. “He’s a terrific scholar, with terrific scholarly values, and has both a very applied bent to his own research and a serious commitment to deep thinking. Even among the GSB’s extraordinarily talented faculty, he’ll stand out as a scholar and as an appreciator and guider of scholarship.

“All those adverbs and related things — ha! You try to write about Jon Levin without ‘extremely’ warm or ‘completely’ committed and such. Won’t work.”

 

 

 

以上内容摘自:

http://poetsandquants.com/2016/06/01/draft-jonathan-levin-draws-praise-stanford-colleagues/ 

 

 

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