NYU Business School Gets its First Black Dean

Peter Blair HenryA new day another barrier is broken. The Stern School of Business at New York University, one of the premier business schools in the nation, has turned to an economics professor at Stanford University, who is also black, as its new dean.

Peter Blair Henry, a Jamaica-born Rhodes Scholar, moves to NYU in January 2010 from Stanford, where he’s currently holding the post of Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Economics. He’ll be NYU’s first black business school dean.

Henry takes over at the school with 5,700 students at a difficult time, with many people questioning the mission of business schools after last year’s financial crash, which many now believe was caused in part by greed among business leaders.

The longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression has also proved a disaster for most of the nation’s colleges and universities. Schools such as NYU that used to benefit from alumni generosity have seen their funding sources dry up. Many of them have watched as their investments and those of their funders disappear like smoke on Wall Street.

A recent Bloomberg report said, ?Millions of dollars for financial aid is out of reach at New York University, trapped in endowment accounts that can?t be touched because of a once-obscure state law thrust into prominence by historic investment losses.”

But NYU is taking action to limit the impact of the financial problems on its students. The Manhattan-based school has frozen salaries and trimmed office supply costs to help pay for financial aid after about half its scholarship endowments, worth $33 million in 2007, fell below the value of the gifts that originally created them.

Henry, who has been teaching at the Stanford Business School for more than? a decade, is equal to the task. He led President Barack Obama’s transition team that reviewed the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international lending agencies before inauguration. He has advised many governments, from from the Caribbean to Africa. His scholarship focuses on the impact of economic reform on emerging economies.

At the Stanford Business School, Henry is an Associate Director of the Center for Global Business and the Economy and a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Stanford Center for International Development. He’s also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Henry joined Stanford as an assistant professor of economics in 1997. Between 2000 and 2001 he was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and in 2001-2006 he held an Early CAREER Development Award from the National Science Foundation. Most recently, he was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission on White House Fellows.

An author of numerous articles and book chapters, Henry is best known for a series of publications in the three flagship journals of the American Economic Association that overturn conventional wisdom on the topics of debt relief, international capital flows, and the role of institutions in economic growth. He is currently writing a book for Oxford University Press.

Born in Jamaica, Peter became a U.S. citizen in 1986. His wife, Lisa J. Nelson, received her BA and MD from Yale University. She is a child psychiatrist. They have four sons: Christian Blair, Langston Alexander, Hayden Montgomery, and Harrison Elbert.