Tippie dean search: William and Mary business school associate dean highlights diversity, research

The University of Iowa held their second public forum for the Tippie College of Business’s new dean via Zoom on Monday. Kurt Carlson became the second finalist for the position and discussed his qualifications and his vision for the college.


College of William and Mary Fields Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty & Academic Affairs Kurt Carlson talks about his plans for Tippie College of Business during a forum over a Zoom call on Monday April 27,2020. Carlson was the second candidate for Dean of Tippie College of Business.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

In the second public forum for the Tippie College of Business Dean search, candidate Kurt Carlson discussed why a focus on research and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs is necessary for the University of Iowa’s college of business.

The forum was held via Zoom Monday afternoon. Carlson, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary, is the second finalist for the position. Former Dean Sarah Gardial left in March to lead Belmont University’s business school.

Carlson, a Wisconsin native, kicked off his presentation Monday by discussing the pride he has for his midwestern roots. He said he was a “blue-collar academic” who has been committed to an education his entire life.

“Having worked through high school and college and not having any role models in my life who were academics, I didn’t know that I could become a professor until I was 22,” he said. “When a professor said to me that I could do his job, I didn’t believe that until I actually became one.”

UI dean search committee co-chair Amy Colbert, the UI Management and Organizations department executive officer, led the meeting. She said the committee associated Carlson with effective leadership.

“We found him to be humble and passionate,” she said. “[Carlson is] value centered. He’s a strategic thinker, but he pays attention to the tactical.”

Carlson discussed how he would advance Tippie’s strategic priorities if he became dean, especially when it comes to research excellence, student success, external connections, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students.

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Research is incredibly important to him as a behavioral economist and an academic, Carlson said. He understands that different faculty members need different environments in order to pursue productive research, Carlson added, but that the cost of research is worth it.

“I personally believe that the cost of supporting research is small relative to the benefits,” he said. “I wrote a white paper on [the topic] and laid out all the different values that came to students from faculty being active in research, including great critical thinking skills.”

Carlson emphasized how important it is to build a diverse campus community of faculty, staff, and students that work together.

Carlson said that in his past experience at the College of William and Mary and at Georgetown University he worked hard to increase the inclusivity of business schools.

“I led the effort to change out Georgetown marketing staff,” he said. “When I arrived, it was 92-percent male and pretty much all white. When I left it was 50-percent female and diverse … For the most part, I focus my attention on female faculty and underrepresented minorities because I feel they may have been overlooked in the past.”

Carlson said that he saw himself at the UI and in Tippie. He said that his love of Midwestern values, his commitment to leading, and his pride in innovation drew him to this position.

“My interest in innovation lines [up] with your interest in innovation,” Carlson said. “You’re not interested in innovation just for innovation’s sake. You’re interested in intelligent innovations that will move you closer towards your vision. That excites me. I believe [Tippie] is poised to lead. You want to lead. I would like to help you with that.”