Geoffrey Garrett, vice provost and dean of the UCLA International Institute, has emerged as the leading candidate to head the Anderson School of Management, raising concern among some insiders who question both the process and Garrett's qualifications.


Garrett, who had been chairman of a committee formed to find a replacement for outgoing Dean Bruce Willison, is the choice of UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale, who told the Business Journal last week that the selection is "not a popularity contest" and that "it's my decision."


Garrett wrapped up final interviews last week. The chancellor is expected to finalize his choice within the next month.


"The faculty thinks this guy is absolutely wrong," said one local business leader with close ties to UCLA, citing Garrett's lack of a connection to the business school.


By some accounts, the faculty choice appeared to be Al Osborne, an associate professor of global economics and management, and Anderson's senior associate dean. Osborne founded the school's Harold Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.


In addition to his role at the International Institute, which is not part of the Anderson School, Garrett is director of UCLA's Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations. He shares an internationalist approach with Carnesale, who participated in arms limitations talks with the Soviet Union and teaches an undergraduate course in international affairs and security.


Returning a call to Garrett, Lawrence Lokman, assistant vice chancellor of university communications, said Garrett declined comment "other than to say he is proud and very honored to be considered formally for the dean's position."


Neither Willison nor Osborne returned calls.


"Whoever you put in that position involves serious risk," said Edward Leamer, director of the Anderson Forecast and member of the search committee, who acknowledged the criticism. "The question is whether the transformation will be 'inside out,' focusing on programmatic changes, or 'outside in,' with a dean who would go to the business community and find substantial support for certain activities and bring that financial support back to the school. Garrett is more of an 'inside out' than 'outside in.'"


Added to list


The process to replace Willison, the former president and chief operating officer of Home Savings of America and H.F. Ahmanson & Co., began in February, when Carnesale assembled a 10-member search committee.


The committee, consisting of Anderson School faculty, faculty from other schools within UCLA, the university's vice chancellor of finance, and representatives of the L.A. business community, embarked on a search to find someone who could reverse the school's shifting fortunes.


Carnesale was given a short list of four candidates in April. He declined to name those selected, but said that during the summer several senior Anderson faculty members asked him to consider Garrett.


"During the process, several faculty members wrote to me about how impressed they were with Professor Garrett and his leadership on the search committee and his knowledge of the school," he said, declining to give the names of the faculty members. "He stepped down as chair, of course, and was recommended by the search committee with great enthusiasm."


Eduardo Schwartz, professor of real estate and land economics and a search committee member, brushed off concerns about the search process. He said Garrett was "enthusiastically" added to the list.


"The chancellor told us from the beginning that the committee was advisory to him," he said.


But Samuel Culbert, a professor of human resources and organizational behavior at the Anderson School, expressed concern.


"There was a short list," he said. "And then, at the 11th hour, the chancellor decides to name this guy. Personally, not being on the committee, I didn't know anything about him. When I looked at his credentials, he's terrific. But the process smells."


Changes in store


The search for a new dean comes as the school shows some improvement in its national rankings. It placed 12th in U.S. News & World Report's latest survey of top business schools, up from No. 14 the year before but still off from the No. 9 slot it held in 1998. The graduate school was No. 14 on Business Week's biennial rankings, released last month, up from No. 16 in 2002. It had been as high as No. 9 in 1994.
The impact of a dean on the closely watched rankings is dubious, however.


Business Week asked graduates and corporate recruiters to rank schools based on such factors as tuition, median pay after graduation, curriculum, career services and faculty research. In "intellectual capital," a Business Week measure of faculty members' academic journal entries in 18 publications, the Anderson School ranked No. 1 this year.


If Garrett, a career academic, does land the job, it would signal a new approach for Carnesale, as he seeks to return the school to its Top 10 nationwide ranking.


"His choice is extremely, extremely important, probably more now than it has been historically," said Leamer. "We're on the verge of some kind of partial privatization in which the school is going to have to raise more of its own revenue and become less dependent on the state. We need leadership to help us get through those times and make sure privatization works the best for the school. Like it or not, we're in a transition phase."


Carnesale, too, noted that most of the top-ranked schools are at private universities or public institutions whose business schools are largely supported by donations and endowments. Raising funds from the private sector, he said, is easier when the school has better leadership over its own faculty, he said.


Richard Rodner, associate dean for marketing and communications at the Anderson School, said only 18.5 percent of the school's total operating budget comes from state funds. Three years ago, that figure was nearly 30 percent.


"The current situation has resulted from a lot of the state budget cuts," he said, but "a model that we're looking at is a model more towards self-sufficiency and the market relative to private universities in order to be competitive."


(The executive MBA and fully employed MBA programs do not receive any public funds, he said. Non-public funds come from student fees, interest earned on endowment income and contracts and grants.)


In addition to serving on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Stanford University and Oxford University before joining UCLA, Garrett was on Carnesale's Competitiveness Task Force, which assessed the economics of UCLA's professional schools, and the chancellor's Implementation Advisory Group. Garrett is also a member of Carnesale's Research Allocation Advisory Group.


If he gets the nod, Garrett would take over a school that has been roiled over the last decade by frequent changes at the top.


Since Clayburn La Force ended his 15-year tenure in 1992, Anderson has had four deans. Willison, who has been the longest-serving, announced he would be returning to the private sector once a replacement was found.


"One of the problems a dean like Bruce Willison has is while he was very skilled at dealing with the business community, he wasn't necessarily accepted by faculty," said Culbert. "We pride ourselves on intellectual snobbery."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.