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Peter Todd is to be the next dean of HEC Paris, succeeding Bernard Ramanantsoa, who will step down this summer after 20 years in the job. Prof Todd will be the first non-French dean of HEC.
Prof Todd, a specialist in information systems, was dean of the Desautels school at McGill University for nine years until May 2014. A former McGill undergraduate, he took the bold decision in 2010 to make the McGill MBA programme self-funded, increasing tuition fees from C$1,700 per annum in 2009 to C$32,500 for the 2011 intake.
In spite of putting the business school on a collision course with the Quebec government, Prof Todd eventually won his case, arguing that higher fees were essential to maintain standards and compete with other business schools. Until 2009, McGill’s MBA fees were less than one-tenth those charged by its rivals in other parts of Canada.
Prof Todd joins HEC at a time when it is going through a similar structural transition.
Following a law that was passed by the French government in December 2014, the school will no longer be a department of the Paris Ile-de-France Chamber of Commerce but will have a more affiliated status, which will give it the independence to publish its owns accounts and raise funds.
Helping to build a more independent business school was part of the appeal of moving to Paris, says Prof Todd. “Creating an independent entity opens up all kinds of possibilities.”
Though the focus of the McGill business school was on undergraduate and MBA education, Prof Todd has high regard for HEC’s executive education courses and its grandes écoles masters degree. “I have never seen a school before where you admit 600 students and 599 turn up.”
At McGill, Prof Todd oversaw a successful fundraising campaign, most notably securing a C$32m naming gift from Marcel Desautels, a former head of Canada’s biggest commercial credit and debt recovery bureau.
HEC will adopt its new status in January 2016 and already other French business schools are considering following suit.
Separately, Vlerick Business School in Belgium has announced that it has appointed marketing, strategy and innovation professor Marion Debruyne as dean from August. Prof Debruyne has worked at the school for the past 10 years.