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Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013

Interim dean Idalene Kesner picked to lead IU's Kelley School of Business

By Rick Seltzer 331-4243 |

After leading Indiana University's Kelley School of Business on a temporary basis since October, Idalene Kesner is about to lose part of her title.

She's about to drop the word "interim." And in the process, she'll gain the status of the first woman to head the business school.

IU said Thursday that Kesner is in line to become Kelley's next permanent dean. The news came after the university's executive vice president and provost, Lauren Robel, announced she will recommend Kesner for the position at the next trustees meeting June 20 and 21 — where trustees will have to approve the move.

"It's great to know as a graduate of the program that the school has put its trust in me," Kesner said. "When you're an alum of a program, it makes it quite special."

Kesner has both her master's and doctorate in business administration from Kelley. She secured Robel's recommendation after a search process that included a 14-member committee interviewing dean candidates.

Previously, Kesner was associate dean of faculty and research at Kelley. She was also the Frank P. Popoff chair of strategic management.

She first joined the Kelley faculty in 1995 after holding a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's business school. She has also been the chairwoman of Kelley's Full-Time MBA Program, chairwoman of its department of management and entrepreneurship, and co-director of its Consulting Academy.

As dean, Kesner plans to focus on improving Kelley's global initiatives and the diversity of its faculty and student recruitment, she said. And the school will launch a new branding campaign.

"This year has been a pretty stellar year for us across the board in terms of rankings," she said. "I think that's going to serve us well in terms of the branding initiative and the diversity initiative."

Her status as the first woman to lead Kelley could help diversity efforts.

"I hope that it serves women who might be looking at our program to know that the leadership of the school is in the hands of a businesswoman," she said. "I think the great news is, if you look across recent appointments of business school deans, you'll find a fair number of women."

Kesner had been serving as interim dean since Dan Smith left to become president of the IU Foundation. Smith, who had been the school's dean for seven years, left Kelley as its Hodge Hall undergoes $60 million in expansion and renovations.

Kelley has roughly 5,600 full-time students in Bloomington and 1,600 in Indianapolis. It also has nearly 1,000 students in an online MBA program.