Haas Dean Ann Harrison is stepping down in July of this year

Less than a year after being reappointed to a second term as dean of UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Ann Harrison has decided to step down from the job. She will return to the faculty for a part-time position on July 31, after fulfilling just one year of her new term.

The decision will allow her to spend more time with her two daughters, Alice, 23 and Emily, 28, who both live in New York, and her husband, Vicente Madrigal, an economist from the Philippines. When Harrison accepted the Haas deanship, Alice was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, and Emily was a graduate student at Williams in art history.

All told, she will have served as dean for five and one-half years since January of 2019, exactly half the time as her predecessor, Rich Lyons, who spent 11 years as Haas dean. That stint includes a six-month sabbatical that ended last Dec. 31st during which she worked on a forthcoming book.

“I will be able to remain at the school I have been truly passionate about since I first set foot here as a freshman at Berkeley in 1977,” said Harrison, 65, in a statement. “It has been an incredible honor and joy for me to serve as dean of Haas,” Harrison added in a note to the Haas community sent this morning. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together.”

In addition to spending more time with her family, she also intends to invest more time in her research. “I am especially excited to have more time to focus on my research into the gender pay gap and what makes industrial policy work,” Harrison said in the statement.

The university said it will announce details about the appointment of an interim dean shortly. The goal is to begin the search for a permanent dean in early fall of 2024, conduct interviews in late fall and/or early spring, and announce the new dean in spring 2025, aiming for a July 1, 2025 start date. The interim dean will likely serve through June 30, 2025, while a national search is underway.

Named Dean of the Year in 2023 by Poets&Quants, Harrison racked up an extraordinary number of accomplishments after arriving as dean from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School where she was a professor. She hired 40 new tenure-track faculty during her five-year tenure, 19 of whom are women. She also nearly doubled the number of faculty positions that are funded by Haas or by philanthropic funds. She raised $236 million since 2019, including the largest single gift in the school’s history — $30 million from alumnus Ned Spieker, and his wife, Carol, to turn the upper-division undergraduate business program into a four-year program.

She also successfully navigated the school through the pandemic which hit with full force a year after her arrival. In quick order — and despite the disruption caused by COVID and the notoriously slow-moving bureaucracy of the University of California system — Harrison has amassed an unimaginable and nearly breathtaking record of achievement.

A top priority at Haas was to embed a sustainability mindset in all of the school’s programs and operations. This resulted in the creation of a sustainability certificate and a dual master’s degree program in business and climate solutions with the Rausser College of Natural Resources, as well as a summer minor in sustainable business and policy.

When she became dean in 2019, U.S. News had ranked Haas’ full-time MBA program sixth best in the U.S. This year, the school’s MBA placed seventh, up four places from a rank of 11 last year. That improvement will likely boost Haas’ 15th place showing in Poets&Quants ranking this year.

Harrison also appointed the school’s first-ever chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer and the first chief sustainability officer. She orchestrated a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) effort that broadened the profile of the school’s faculty, board, and student body, and created learning opportunities and anti-bias training for the entire Haas community.

Harrison’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship resulted in a new faculty group and an entrepreneurship hub — slated to open this fall — for students from across the Berkeley campus to envision new companies and products.

In addition, Harrison expanded the school’s degree offerings with the Flex hybrid MBA cohort and worked closely with the Berkeley School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, Biological Sciences, and the School of Law to bolster their joint programs.

“We thank Dean Harrison for her incredible leadership and numerous accomplishments during her term as the dean,” said Ben Hermalin Hermalin, executive vice chancellor and provost for UC Berkeley. “For anyone who has had the pleasure of working with her, Ann is wonderful to partner with. She is full of innovative ideas that go beyond Haas; hence, not only has she made Haas better, but she’s also made the campus better. Her leadership will be sorely missed.”

Born in France, Harrison earned a diplôme d’études universitaires générales (DEUG) at the University of Paris. She received a bachelor of arts with majors in economics and history at UC Berkeley and a doctor of philosophy in economics from Princeton University.

For someone who describes herself as an “unintentional academic,” never mind one who aspired to become a business school dean, Harrison walked away with an insider’s candid assessment of the top job. Nor did she have a typical background that would have led to a deanship. Harrison had spent most of her career in and out of academia, with stints at the World Bank that satisfied her mission-driven motivation to do something to eliminate poverty in the world. Even before completing her Ph.D. at Princeton, Harrison went straight into the World Bank’s Young Professionals Program, a highly selective rotational management training program that selected just 20 of 10,000 applicants. “I hadn’t done that much research, but when I got there I did more research on top of my day job and I fell in love with doing research. It was a bizarre trajectory, though one of the highly published economists at Haas is Ross Levine. He and I were young professionals at the World Bank together. So there are a number of us who did make that move into academia.”

Harrison earned her Ph.D. in 1991 and remained at the World Bank until 1994. “I started sending my papers out to be published, and much to my astonishment, people liked them,” she says. “At some point, Dani Rodrik at Harvard’s Kennedy School asked me to teach there for a year during his sabbatical.” She spent a year as a visiting faculty member of Harvard’s School of Government, returning to the World Bank in 1992. It was Rodrik who later called Harrison to let her know that Columbia Business School was looking for an assistant professor. “It seemed like a wonderful opportunity since I developed a love for research,” she recalls. “I went and became an academic. It was a very circuitous path, and I have spent my career going back and forth between these two worlds.”

Harrison joined Columbia as an assistant professor of finance and economics in 1994, gained a promotion to associate professor four years later in 1998, and returned to Berkeley as a full professor of agricultural and resource economics in 2001. But her love of the World Bank would intervene yet again. She went on leave from Berkeley in 2009 to become a trade team manager at the World Bank, and then director of development policy, until returning to academia at Wharton in 2012. It wasn’t until she received an email from a search consultant, asking if she would be interested in the Haas opening. “I was thrilled” by the outreach, Harrison says. “Haas is a really special place. The focus on culture and the school’s position within the greater university is special. I spoke to my family, my friends, and others who had either considered or had become deans. Everybody around me was very supportive. Everyone seemed to think it would be a great fit.”

Harrison said she looks forward to the opportunity to teach in the new four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program. “What really motivates me both as a leader and soon-to-be faculty member are the transformational opportunities we provide for our students, staff, faculty, and alumni,” she said. “We provide opportunity for everyone, at a scale that is unequaled among the private schools. What a powerful mission.”

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