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Founding Dean Robert S. Sullivan Steps Down


Sullivan Leaves Exceptional Legacy

Following 16 years of extraordinary service, Robert S. Sullivan, the founding dean of the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego, will be stepping down effective August 31, 2019. 

Sullivan was recruited to UC San Diego in 2003 after successfully leading the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and also leading the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School) at Carnegie Mellon University.   At the time of Sullivan’s arrival to San Diego, no philanthropic commitments had been secured for a new school of management. Additionally, the school was to receive no campus or state resources. Unique to all the business schools in the University of California, this new school was to sustain on its own, starting at ground zero.

“Under Dean Sullivan’s leadership, the Rady School has grown to become recognized for excellence, innovation and economic impact,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “Since the school’s first MBA class graduated in 2006, more than 180 operational startup companies have been founded. And recently, the school’s two-year MBA program was ranked 14th in the world by the Times Higher Education and Wall Street Journal business school report.”

As founding dean, Sullivan has influenced every aspect of the school as it grew from fledgling startup to the innovation powerhouse that it has become. He led the recruitment of world-class faculty, who are consistently recognized for being among the best in the world as scholars and as educators. Upon arrival to UC San Diego, he quickly launched innovation-centric MBA programs for full-time students, as well as for working professionals. More recently, he launched one-year specialized masters programs in the areas of finance, business analytics and accounting. The school has grown to nearly 40 ladder track faculty and to nearly 750 masters students in residence.

Sullivan’s influence at the school has been immense and is evident in the impact made by Rady School students and alumni. Since the school’s first class graduated in 2006, Rady School students and alumni have raised over $2 billion in capital and started 182 operational companies, including six companies which have completed initial public offerings (IPOs). This is among the highest rate of economic impact in the country.

Sullivan’s success in part is due to his vision and passion for education, innovation and economic development. This spurred a groundswell of community support and commitment. Since 2003, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of community investments for the school have been secured, including a $100 million from naming benefactor, Ernest Rady. Some of these resources have been directed to student fellowships, to attract the best and brightest. Others have been for endowed faculty positions, to keep the Rady School market competitive with the very best. And of course, two state-of-the-art academic buildings are now the home of the Rady School of Management. The San Diego community has been inspired and mobilized to ensure the immense success of this startup business school. 

“To talk about Bob Sullivan, is to talk about leadership,” said Rady Alumni Association President Bosco Lujan. “A special kind of leadership. The best type of leadership. What Bob has accomplished in just 16 years is nothing short of a miracle.”

“Dean Sullivan has been a fantastic dean, fulfilling a need in our community for leaders in the innovation economy and creating more value than anyone could have imagined,” said Ernest Rady, President and CEO of American Assets Trust and Chairman of the Rady School Dean’s Advisory Council. “I, and the entire community, are grateful to Dean Sullivan for all he has done for San Diego and past, present and future students of the Rady School of Management.”

Sullivan will remain as dean of the Rady School until his successor is in place.