The Other Leavers: Faculty Changes

By Harmesh Bhambra ‘16

Harmesh Bhambra '16

Harmesh Bhambra '16

Second-year MBA students are not the only people leaving the Booth bubble over the next few months. The leaving train also includes a set of professors, some who are making temporary moves, others, likely permanent moves.

It does cause “sadness”, as mentioned by Doug Diamond, Merton H.Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, when some of the most well-known professors at Booth move permanently to pastures new. By the end of the year this will include Matthew Gentzkow, Richard O.Ryan Professor of Economics and John Bates Clark medalist, who is moving to the Stanford Economics Department. Also, John Cochrane, AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, is moving to the Hoover Institution to pursue a new career focus.

Diamond, who has been at Booth since 1979, will be on leave for one year by taking the Fischer Black Visiting Professorship at MIT. Professor Diamond mentions that Chicago is “the best place in the world to do research and senior people stay very productive”, so it can be difficult to leave. Diamond did try to leave Booth once, but his dalliance with Yale was a “disaster” so he swiftly moved back. The move to MIT will allow Diamond to forgo his senior faculty administrative and teaching duties, freeing up time to pursue his research projects. On what excites him about the move to MIT, Diamond says that “at MIT there are different people who are asking some different questions”.

Professors can take up to two years unpaid leave from Booth without quitting. This rule can be relaxed for professors that pursue the “public good”, such as with Raghuram G Rajan, Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, who pursued a stint at the IMF and is now the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Further, Chris Nosko, Assistant Professor of Marketing, will be on leave for a year to become Senior Economist at Amazon. Given Nosko’s focus on technology and marketing, “there is no better place to do research than being in a technology firm”. In addition, Amit Seru, Professor of Finance, will be visiting Stanford next year. “Getting exposed to different ways of thinking about the same problem can sometimes be useful”.

The other 2015 departures

The other 2015 departures

John Heaton, Deputy Dean for Faculty, highlights that churn has been pretty stable over the past few years; although the data show there has been a jump in the proportion of faculty resignations this year. “I don’t like the fact that we are losing faculty; but I like that we are hiring a lot”. The market for the best faculty is extremely competitive and the school has to work hard to maintain, and improve faculty quality. Heaton mentions that salary is rarely the reason professors leave -- “the school provides competitive pay”. Further, he discusses the main reasons for faculty leaving: some will not make it through the tenure review process; other schools offer a different experience, “some people want a change in their life”; and personal circumstances, such as ‘joint supply’ issues with spouses, are always important. The levers to keep faculty at Booth are obvious and include “salary support, research support and support in the classroom”.

While Booth is saying goodbye to some well-known faculty this year, “the school is in great shape and many departures are for personal reasons”, as put by Professor Diamond. ChiBus wishes all departing faculty the best in their new roles.

Harmesh is News Editor for Chicago Business