Courtney appreciative of his 'truly transformative' experience as dean


Dean Hugh Courtney reflects on his time as dean of  the D'Amore-McKim School of Business before he steps down at the end of the academic year.

 

D’Amore-McKim School of Business Dean Hugh Courtney has announced that he will be stepping down as dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at the end of the 2016-17 academic year but will be staying at the university as a professor of international business and strategy.

During his five years of service as dean, he helped create a culture at D’Amore-McKim that has attracted what he believes are “extraordinary people at all levels: junior and senior faculty, administrative leaders and staff, and bright and ambitious students.” 

“In the end, a university is only as good as its people. In the past five years, we’ve implemented strategies which have enabled us to bring in unprecedented numbers of top-notch students, faculty and staff who have helped make our great business school even better.” Courtney also noted that all embrace Northeastern’s commitment to integrating business theory with practice. “We continue to attract the best thinkers and doers who are engaged with the world outside of academia.” 

He’s also extremely proud of the growth of D’Amore-McKim’s entrepreneurship programs and Northeastern’s innovation ecosystem, which is currently ranked 4th for U.S. undergraduate entrepreneurship programs and 25th among graduate programs. He believes “this didn’t happen by accident.”

“The D’Amore-McKim school, inspired by our benefactors Rich D’Amore and Alan McKim, has been highly focused on building a campus ecosystem that serves student, faculty, staff and alumni entrepreneurs from all of Northeastern’s colleges in their efforts to launch successful ventures,” Courtney said. “We’ve created a unique student- and faculty-led set of programs and initiatives that currently support over 200 active ventures. Northeastern ventures that have benefitted from these services have generated more than $70 million in external funding over the last few years. I am particularly proud of the interdisciplinary nature of all of our programs in this space, something that unfortunately is all too rare in most of higher education.”

From administrator to teacher

Before joining Northeastern University as dean of the D’Amore-McKim school in July 2012, Courtney was the vice dean and professor of the practice of strategy at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He also served as the Smith School’s associate dean of Executive Programs and was a consultant with McKinsey & Company for nine years where he was a leader of its Strategy practice and served clients on six continents across multiple industry sectors.

Because of this passion for strategy, he looks forward to the time he’ll have soon to work on applied research and share it with his students.

“Most academics don’t go into higher education to be administrators,” he said. “I’m a fairly typical academic, and I became a professor because I love to teach… I love to see those light bulbs go on in the classroom. I love to see young people develop and go on to succeed, and to know that I might have played even a small role in that is very satisfying. I also love new ideas. I enjoy the process of research, learning new things, and translating results into articles and books which may ultimately impact the way both academics and business leaders think about strategy.” 

Advice for the future

Courtney knows the university and school have been on an extraordinary run, which he says goes back 25-30 years and has particularly accelerated during the last 10. He believes that the status quo is never good enough at Northeastern, and this creates wonderful opportunities and challenges for future growth here.

“The forces at work in the global higher education industry today are so clearly transformative, including technology-enabled education, the integration of experiential and classroom learning, and the emphasis on developing global citizens who have the cultural agility to thrive in a variety of different locations, industries, and jobs over time,” he said. “So we have to teach differently, and we have to research differently in today’s world. My hope and belief is that Northeastern’s thought leadership on these new ways of educating and doing research will become the new standard.” 

When asked if he has any advice for the new dean, he said it’s important for he or she to know that the opportunities and challenges are like two sides of the same coin.

“Northeastern is a very ambitious and forward-thinking institution. The opportunities to innovate and address major changes in higher education here are extraordinary. The flip side is that there are so many changes and potential opportunities that it can be challenging to choose areas to focus on… We want to be leaders, we want to be ahead of the pack, and to do so we have to focus our efforts and take some risks on some of the toughest nuts to crack in higher education today. I am very confident whomever we bring in will be up to the challenge.”

A unique place

In the end, there’s a reason Courtney is looking forward to continuing his work at D’Amore-McKim. He feels that there’s a level of energy and drive at Northeastern that is very rare in higher education.

“Our students are very driven, very thoughtful, and really engaged with the world. I don’t take that for granted. We really have great people who want the place to be even better, and that’s why I look forward to staying at D’Amore-McKim.”