Leadership Transition at Zicklin School: Dean Huss RetiresDecember 6, 2022
On December 31, H. Fenwick Huss, the Willem Kooyker Dean of the Zicklin School of Business since 2014, will retire. During his eight-and-a-half years of leadership, Huss presided over crucial updates of undergraduate and MBA curricula, extended the Zicklin School’s reach through international dual-degree programs, and oversaw the launch of the Master of Science in Business Analytics and the Doctor of Business Administration programs, the latter the first in New York State. His student-centered, innovative leadership garnered high enrollments and national recognition.
Dean Huss sat down for a final interview with Zicklin News.
“When the provost announced my retirement back in August, she used a key phrase: ‘Fenwick and the talented Zicklin team,’” Huss notes. “Any successes we achieved here were a group effort. It’s never about the dean alone.”
Huss, who came to the Zicklin School after a decade as dean of the J. Mack Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta, learned early in his career that “top down” institutional change is unlikely to succeed. “The first thing a leader should do is talk to people in the organization and find champions who agree certain changes are needed,” he offers. “I’ve been very fortunate to have great champions for our initiatives — faculty and staff who recognize the importance of continuous improvement and innovation in the content and delivery of materials.”
On January 1, 2023, Senior Associate Dean Paquita Davis-Friday will become interim dean as the Zicklin School launches a national search for a permanent leader.
“I’m very optimistic about our future, because the new leadership team is deeply committed to the School’s mission,” says Huss. He hopes the Zicklin School will continue the momentum it has achieved in innovation in programming and new approaches to pedagogy: “We’re currently in the middle of revising the MBA program. Guess what? We did that a couple of years ago, and a couple of years before that.” That kind of continuous improvement is essential, he says, given the pace of change in the business world, “otherwise what we’re teaching will be out of date in a few years—or even a few months.”
Of all his career achievements, Huss is perhaps most proud of the international initiatives he’s undertaken, including partnerships with universities in Asia and Europe on dual-degree and joint degree programs. “As [management guru] Peter Drucker once said, in about five years there will be two types of CEOs: those who think globally and those who are unemployed. Our students won’t succeed if we don’t prepare them to understand differences in systems, differences in cultures and in how work gets done.” Ideally, students should gain experience working in international settings, but “having someone sitting next to them in class who’s from Asia, from India, from Europe, from Africa, is also beneficial. Anything we can do to enhance the internationalization of the student experience is critical.”
What are Huss’s plans for retirement? While his university work will cease, he will continue to serve on a few corporate boards and hopes to become more involved with a nonprofit organization he helped initiate that offers social services in a home setting for children and adolescents who have been failed by the foster-care system.
“I came to New York to be part of the great work that’s done here at the Zicklin School,” Huss sums up. “It’s been a privilege and the highlight of my career.”