The abrupt exit of Yash Gupta, the dean of USC's Marshall School of Business, came as a shock to many at the university and in the business community.
It shouldn't have.
Gupta, 54, never settled into life in Los Angeles, choosing to live in faculty housing rather than buying a home. Besides his widely reported failed bid for the presidency of the University of Arizona, Gupta also unsuccessfully sought to become a provost at another university. Perhaps most significantly, he may have fallen victim to what some observers see as a disproportionate concern over the school's ranking in various media forums. The Financial Times dropped the school 17 spots in its 2006 rankings.
"That's pretty bad," said Chloe Nguyen, a 20-year-old business major.
USC drew poor marks from the Financial Times on several criteria, including the percentage of alumni who had found jobs through the MBA Career Resource Center. Gupta had hired Peter Giulioni, a former senior partner at Deloitte Consulting LLP, as executive director of the center, and turning the center around was one of his biggest initiatives.
University President Steven B. Sample brought the situation to a head earlier this month, according to members of the schools' Board of Trustees, when he became aware of Gupta's efforts to find other jobs and confronted him, questioning his commitment to USC. Gupta subsequently tendered his resignation but remains on staff as a professor.
USC spent two years in an extensive search before picking Gupta to succeed Ralph Westerfield, who led the business school for 11 years. Westerfield was responsible for a fundraising campaign that brought in a $35 million gift from Gordon Marshall, an entrepreneur for whom the school is named.
Gupta spent five years as dean of the University of Washington Business School, where he was credited with boosting fundraising by 400 percent, according to a statement issued by the Marshall School when he was hired in July 2004. He helped launch new certificate and degree programs, including the nation's first doctoral program in technology entrepreneurship.
At USC, Gupta is generally well-regarded by board members, who see him as ambitious and aggressive even by USC standards in terms of fund-raising. His direct style is viewed as positive, several board members said.
Among his accomplishments was the launch of a two-year executive MBA program at the Marshall School's center in San Diego. Classes will begin there in August.
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