Longtime Tuck Professor Matthew J. Slaughter Named Business School’s 10th Dean

Friday, January 23, 2015
Hanover — Dartmouth College has picked a popular faculty member, administrator and international trade economist to be the 10th dean of the Tuck School of Business, signaling the importance a global perspective likely will play in educating business and policy leaders at the school in the coming years.

Matthew J. Slaughter, an economics professor and associate dean for faculty, succeeds Paul Danos, Tuck’s longtime dean, who said in March he would not seek reappointment when his fifth term expires in June.

The announcement appeared to elicit jubilation among Tuck faculty members and the Dartmouth community, which welcomed the choice of a comparatively youthful — Slaughter is 45, spry in academic years — and energetic insider who has also served as a White House economic adviser and was a Hanover School Board member.

Slaughter “completely represents what makes Tuck unique among business schools,” said Andrew Bernard, professor of international economics at Tuck who also instructed Slaughter when he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “which is a combination of outstanding teaching, high quality research on the faculty, and the ability to reach audiences from students, to staff, faculty and alumni.”

Although the choice of an insider seems logical, it wasn’t a given: Slaughter’s appointment came only after an eight-month search undertaken by a 10-member committee and included input from faculty, staff, students, alumni and even advice from the Chicago corporate headhunting firm Spencer Stuart, the college said in announcing the news.

Dartmouth said Slaughter was selected from among “several finalists,” with the final decision falling to Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and Provost Carolyn Dever.

“Matt embodies all that is great about Tuck,” Hanlon said in a prepared statement. “He is a committed scholar-educator with a global outlook and deep connections to the worlds of policy and practice. He cares deeply about Tuck’s distinctive values and traditions, its close-knit community, spirit of innovation, and culture of diversity.”

Dartmouth officials said many of the same forces that are shaping the United States economy — globalization, competition for skilled workers, rising wealth and influence in Asia and other regions — are the same forces that U.S. business schools address.

And Slaughter’s background in international economics, coupled with his Tuck background and approachable style, made him the best choice, they said.

“We were looking for someone who understood (Tuck) traditions but also at the same time had the strategic ability to bring us into the future,” said Bob Hansen, a Tuck management professor and associate dean who was chairman of the search committee. “He’s been a Dartmouth economics professor, and then at Tuck for 12 years. He understands Tuck. He’s also a student of exactly the economic forces that are influencing high education: the economics of globalization, technology and productivity.”

Slaughter’s academic background is in international economics, specifically the study of international trade on labor markets and related work that examines the intersection of globalization and policy. He was one of the early scholars to examine the link between globalization and rising income inequality and job loss in the United States economy.

And his research led to counterintuitive findings. For example, in a study of hiring practices among U.S.-based multinational companies, Slaughter concluded that rising employment at their foreign arms in fact resulted in greater domestic hiring, not less as commonly believed.

Tuck is known for having fiercely loyal alumni, and Slaughter, in an interview, said he is a protector of the Tuck traditions — for example, sending its graduates into a variety of fields other than finance and consulting, “and I hope in the years ahead we will refine what we continue to do well.” He said the social responsibility and societal impact of business is something Tuck teaches students well, but also is something he would like to boost.

At the same time, he said, Tuck will need to examine initiatives pursued by some “peer” business schools, such as nonresidential academic programs, overseas affiliations and online instruction to reach off-campus students.

“Tuck is going to need to innovate,” he said.

After graduating from Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minn., Slaughter went off to the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in economics, and then to MIT for a doctorate in economics, where his thesis adviser was Paul Krugman, who would later win the Nobel Prize in economics (and offer up an unapologetic liberal perspective through his New York Times 

A registered independent, Slaughter was tapped by Ben Bernanke, the former Council of Economic Advisers chairman who later would become chief of the Federal Reserve, to join the three-member council to advise the Bush administration.

Slaughter said he was a graduate student at MIT when he was inspired by Krugman to tackle “the important questions, the questions that matter” as an economist. And he credits Bernanke, who led the Fed during the recession and was central in preventing a deeper breakdown in the economy, with being a “role model,” someone who demonstrated “what academics can do to make the world a better place.”

Academic institutions, comprised of professors with healthy egos, ambitious and opinionated students, and often interfering alumni, are notoriously political 

But Andrew Samwick, who heads the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth and who joined the college’s Economics Department in 1994, the same year as Slaughter, said his longtime friend is suited to navigate that terrain, and that those skills likely were a factor in his selection.

“What the driver here is that every group of stakeholders that interacts with Matt comes away thinking — not just thinking, but realizing — that he understands them and has done his best by them,” Samwick said.

“Sometimes,” Samwick said, “the right guy is actually in the building.”

John Lippman can be reached at 603-727-3219 or jlippman@vnews.com.

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