UC Irvine Decides on Business School Dean


Hoping to bolster its reputation worldwide, UC Irvine named international business expert David H. Blake as the new dean of its Graduate School of Management.

Blake, former dean of Southern Methodist University’s business school, was identified in June as one of three front-runners for the job. He will start Oct. 1, replacing longtime management school dean Dennis Aigner.

Though the management school is not the university’s largest, the appointment was considered important. The dean is a high-profile position with close links to the business community, and UC Irvine has been trying to increase its overall stature through its management program.

“UCI’s Graduate School of Management is now among the top 50 business schools in the country, and David Blake is an ideal person to lead the school to even higher levels of achievement,” said UCI Chancellor Laurel L. Wilkening.


Blake, 57, resigned as dean of SMU’s Edwin L. Cox School of Business last December, about the time that a search was launched for Aigner’s successor.

He said his mission at UCI will be to help the business school “become an international player.”

“Orange County is a perfect example of a place that’s very much linked to the broader world,” he said. “We have to develop a global mind-set among our students.”

That will require some risk-taking, he said. “I don’t think we need to be just another me-too business school. We need to carve out our own model.”

Blake said the school will also continue to sharpen its focus on technology and health care.

UCI Executive Vice Chancellor Sidney H. Golub, who was responsible for hiring the new business school dean, said faculty members, students and business people who met with Blake were impressed with his track record.

Blake also won admirers with his consensus-building style, Golub said. “He listens very well to people.”

The other factors working in Blake’s favor were his expertise in international business and the role of technology--two of the management school’s top priorities. While he has less experience in the school’s third specialty--health care--Golub said Blake is interested in pursuing an aggressive agenda in that field as well.


Julie Hill, chief executive of Costain Homes in Newport Beach and a member of the dean’s search committee, said she was won over by Blake in part because he had thoroughly researched UCI before interviewing for the job.

For instance, Blake said he had looked up the university’s Web site and found it was out of date. “He said, ‘That’s not acceptable,’ ” Hill recalled.

Blake also made a strong case for forging closer ties to Orange County’s business community, Hill said. “The point he made was that any school in the U.S. can have links to the Pacific Rim,” she said. “What’s important is to utilize the relationships that many companies that are based in Orange County have with the Far East, and bring that into the fold at UCI to a greater degree.”

Blake won the job over two other finalists--Carol A. Scott, a professor of marketing at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and John W. Seybolt, dean of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.


During Blake’s seven-year tenure at SMU, the school’s endowment doubled to $80 million and scores on the Graduate Management Aptitude Test, the main entrance exam for graduate business schools, increased by 50 points. In 1996, Business Week magazine ranked the SMU business program among the top 25 in the nation, calling it “one of the most innovative schools in the world.”

He has also been dean and professor of the Graduate School of Management at Rutgers University, dean and professor of the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University, and associate dean and professor of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

Blake is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and has graduate degrees in business administration and political science. He earned his doctorate in international politics from Rutgers in 1968.

He has also advised several large corporations on global business strategies, including Alcoa, AT&T;, Exxon, IBM and Mead Corp. He has been a consultant to the U.S. State Department, and an arbitrator for the steel industry in the Pittsburgh area.


Aigner, UCI’s graduate management school dean since 1988, will continue to teach and do research at the university, although he might take a sabbatical to work on various projects.

Under his stewardship, the school rose in national rankings. U.S. News & World Report, in its closely watched listings, named UCI’s graduate management program as 46th in the nation this year, the first time it placed in the top 50.