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Harvard names 2nd straight Indian Am Business school dean

Harvard Business School announced Friday it has named economist and professor Srikant Datar as its 11th dean, The Harvard Crimson reports.

When he assumes his position in January 2021, Datar will become the second consecutive HBS dean of Indian descent, succeeding Nitin Nohria, who has served in his position since 2010.

In making the announcement, Harvard University President Larry Bacow said Datar will be instrumental in leading the business school during the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Harvard Gazette reported.

“Srikant Datar is an innovative educator, a distinguished scholar, and a deeply experienced academic leader,” Bacow said. “He is a leading thinker about the future of business education, and he has recently played an essential role in HBS’s creative response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Datar has served nearly 25 years at HBS, having joined the faculty in 1996. He also has assumed variety of high-level positions there, according to The Harvard Crimson, most recently as Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration and the senior associate dean for University affairs.

Furthermore, The Harvard Gazette wrote Datar’s extensive research, expertise, and collaboration prepared him for the new role. His research areas include cost management and control, strategy implementation and governance.

Datar told The Harvard Crimson he was excited to lead the business school.

“Harvard Business School is an institution with a remarkable legacy of impact in research, education, and practice. Yet the events of the past year have hastened our passage to an unforeseen future. I look forward to working with colleagues and friends of the School — including throughout Harvard, in our Boston community, and around the world — to realize our mission in what undoubtedly will be an exciting new era,” Datar said.

The transition in leadership also occurs as the school continues its internal discussion on the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion. HBS published “Action Plan for Racial Equity” in September, with Nohria noting “this moment has made urgently clear that the School must redouble its commitment to combat racism—and anti-Black racism in particular,” The Harvard Crimson reports.

On the other hand, Nohria had been wary of the school in taking stances on social issues, promoting an apolitical stance, according to Wall Street Journal. In June, Nohria published a letter finally apologizing that HBS has not “fought racism as effectively as [it] could.”

In a recent call with HBS faculty, Datar doubled down on the letter of his predecessor, acknowledging the school needs to act on their promise on increasing inclusion and equity.

“We must adopt and act upon this plan with speed and urgency,” he said.

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