winter-spring 2001

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Highlights of the Hamada Years

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nobel medal
Nobel Tradition: Over the course of Hamada’s terms, Chicago GSB added Professor Robert Fogel and alumnus Myron Scholes, M.B.A. ’64, Ph.D. ’70, to its list of Nobel medal winners.

Upholding a Tradition of Scholarship
Supporting Standards for Faculty

By Robert H. Topel
Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Professor in Urban and Labor Economics

At Chicago GSB, the leadership of a great dean is purposefully subtle, something that faculty hardly notice. Only at the end of a dean’s service can we appreciate what was accomplished and maintained. There is much to admire in Bob Hamada’s tenure. He has been a great dean.

Most readers will be familiar with the tangible accomplishments of the last eight years, including continued strength of our educational programs, a successful capital campaign, a new campus in Singapore, and a new building planned for the Hyde Park campus. But to understand what a dean can mean to the faculty, one must understand what Chicago means to the faculty. By the metric that matters to us––the academic and scholarly environment that is the center of our professional lives––Chicago GSB occupies the preeminent position among business schools. There simply is no place like it. This intangible asset is the reason faculty came to Chicago, and it is why we stay. It’s also why a Chicago education has such lasting value: Students––and we are all students––are confronted daily with new and important ideas and are taught to think critically.

When Bob became dean, faculty knew he was “one of us” and that he understood what Chicago stands for. Bob vowed not only to maintain Chicago’s academic values and environment; he vowed to enhance them. This was no idle promise, nor an easy one to keep. The “business” of business education is highly competitive, and it becomes more so each year. Competitors bid for our faculty, and we must fight to keep them. Market pressures and student demands require ever-better physical facilities, and popular press “rankings” seek to homogenize business schools along decidedly less academic lines. The pressure to compromise core values for short-term gain is ever-present, as is the evidence that many other schools have done so. It is to Bob’s credit that he did not. Under his leadership, the faculty has been able to stick to what we do best––cutting-edge research and rigorous teaching––and the GSB has prospered.

If Chicago GSB is about scholarship and research, then the best evidence of Bob’s success is in the faculty he leads. Eight years ago, Chicago was the best place for a faculty member to work. It’s better now, both absolutely and relative to our competitors. I cannot point to one academic area that is weaker than when Bob took over; most are demonstrably stronger. This retrospective is meant to honor Bob Hamada, but he would be the first to acknowledge the contributions of his deputy deans: Gary Eppen, Robin Hogarth, John Huizinga, and Mark Zmijewski. The faculty acknowledge those contributions as well, with gratitude. By every reasonable measure, Bob Hamada has left the GSB a better place. For that he has the heartfelt thanks of his colleagues.

Next: Upholding a Tradition of Scholarship, Part 2

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