Norm Solomon, dean of Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business, announces decision to step down after a decade of service



N SolomonAfter ten years of outstanding service as dean of Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business, Norm Solomon, Ph.D., has decided to step down at the end of the academic year, in June. After a yearlong sabbatical, Dr. Solomon, of Easton, Conn., will return to Fairfield in the fall of 2012 to teach full-time and conduct research. An interim dean - as yet to be determined - will step into the role of dean while a national search for Solomon's successor is launched.

Of his decision, Solomon said, "It has been a wonderful and very exciting experience. I have been fortunate to work with a terrific faculty and staff, and also to work with my fellow deans - a great group of people."

In addition, he acknowledged the contribution of the Dolan School of Business Advisory Council (a group that greatly expanded during his tenure), noting that it has not only been a strong supporter of the school but him as well. "I am indebted to its members for their guidance," he said. "With the support of all these people, groups, and alumni, the Dolan School has accomplished a great deal in a relatively short period of time."

Indeed, the school saw significant growth with the Cornell graduate at the helm for a decade, a noteworthy time considering the average duration of a business school dean is just less than four years.

A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Solomon came to Fairfield after serving as dean of the College of Business at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., and soon established himself as a strong proponent of faculty and students. Under his leadership, endowed chairs for faculty were created, while the school was recognized for continued excellence, and was re-accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). At the same time, it has continued to garner a reputation for producing graduates who excel in many of the world's most influential companies, as well as in a variety of business enterprises and agencies where their professionalism and ethical probity are highly regarded.

Solomon's embracing of the Jesuit mission naturally found its way to the curriculum. The larger picture for him has always concerned creating an environment for students seeking an education in business characterized by Catholic and Jesuit values and dedicated to professional competence; ethical practice; service to the community, especially to those in need of special advocacy; and commitment to the common good. He has incorporated cura personalis - a Jesuit value meaning "care of the whole person" - by making certain students have access to faculty mentors throughout their Fairfield education.

Solomon has shepherded many events that have turned the school into a classroom for the community - especially for the legions of adult learners in the graduate programs - with events such as the annual Charles F. Dolan Lecture featuring business leaders such as Sanford I. Weill and E. Gerald Corrigan '63, fostering the Jesuit value of lifelong learning along the way.

"With his leadership, the school has also fully embraced our Jesuit and Catholic obligation to be an agent of positive social change," said Rev. Jeffery P. von Arx, S.J., university president. "The school has therefore become an innovator in the teaching of socially responsible business practice and applied ethics."

The school's commitment to transformative social engagement has included the ongoing work of the school's Center for Microfinance, a program in which the faculty and business students have helped to develop self-sustaining businesses in poor rural areas of Haiti, Nicaragua, and South Africa, he added.

Winston Tellis, Ph. D., the Stephen and Camille Schramm Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, has been central to those efforts. "It is difficult to think of the Dolan School of Business without Norm at the helm," he observed. "He eagerly adopted the Jesuit values, as Fr. von Arx said, and he instilled them in the very fabric of the school. I think that will be his lasting legacy."

Solomon has been responsible for initiating student exchange programs with several European universities. He also counts among the school's more recent accomplishments the establishment of the Business Education Simulation and Trading (BEST) Classroom. Such people as Oliver Patrell were key to its creation, he added.

"Norm's instrumental support made the BEST Classroom a reality at Fairfield at a time when a trading floor and accompanying hardware and software were available at very few and only the most prestigious schools," observed Dr. Michael Tucker, professor of finance. "He supported continuous technology improvement including responding to student and alumni interest in bringing Bloomberg terminals to campus."

In addition Solomon has been an active volunteer for AACSB International - the gold standard in business school accreditation. He has served on more than a dozen Peer Review Teams that visit schools to accredit them and he has mentored several schools through the accreditation process. Solomon is also completing a three-year term on the organization's PreAccreditation Committee, which vets accreditation applications. He is also currently serving as the executive secretary of the North East Business Deans Association, which counts over thirty members.

Undoubtedly, his sabbatical will involve running. His involvement with the New York Road Runners Club, for instance, has entailed running four New York City Marathons, and raising thousands of dollars along the way for inner-city running programs for urban youths. Similar programs helped Solomon as a child growing up.

He received his master's and doctoral degrees in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. He holds a certificate from Harvard University's Institute for Management and Leadership in Education.

"I very much look forward to the next phase of my career and having the opportunity to return to my first academic 'love' - teaching and scholarship," said Solomon, adding, "I also look forward to be able to spend more time with the true love of my life, my wife Kathy."

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 23, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 210