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UM’S New Biz-School Dean Has Eye On No. 1 Niches

October 01, 2007
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Barbara Kahn, talking strategy, sounds like your typical CEO.  She’s analyzing her marketplace, evaluating her strengths, figuring out which niches she can be No. 1 in – because, make no mistake about it, she’ll settle for nothing less than No. 1.

Kahn doesn’t run a company, exactly; she’s the new dean of University of Miami’s School of Business Administration.  A noted scholar on consumer choice and brand loyalty, Kahn in recent weeks has been laying out her plan for building a brand of her own:  transforming UM’s B-school into a world-class research institution that also has broad ties to the community.  “I thing the community’s hungry for it.”

She came to UM in August from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (she directed its undergraduate division), which consistently has ranked tops in the world in specialties like accounting and finance.  UM, she says, has advantages top schools dream of; diverse community, global connections and an emphasis on programs that cross disciplines.

“Now we have to build the reputation,” Kahn says.  “You want to be a world-class school, you have to have state-of-the-art knowledge and research.”

She doesn’t expect to “out-Harvard Harvard.”  Instead, she’ll focus on areas that play to UM’s strengths; healthcare and real estate are two.  She’s also toying with family business and the business of sports.  “You have to differentiate,” she says.  “Figure out, what can I be No. 1 at? Then, specialize in it and fundraise toward it.”

In these key areas, she’ll focus on creating chaired professorships, adding new certificate and degree programs, getting research grants.  One example: working with UM’s architecture school to add a year to its existing five-year degree, and students will finish with an MBA.  She’s appointed a director of health programs.  Her team also has created new Ph.D. programs in marketing and management science.

It’s a five-year plan.  “We need to leverage Miami’s location to become a globally predominant business school,” she says.

What do you want in a business school?

Lisa Gibbs is executive business editor
Miami Herald Business Section  Mon Oct 22, 2007

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