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After 16 years in the job, Patrick Molle will step down as director of EM Lyon, one of France’s top business schools, in August 2012. The school ranked in the top 10 in the December 2010 Financial Times ranking of European business schools.

In spite of widespread rumours about disagreements between the faculty at the school and the director, Prof Molle, 54, says he took to decision to step down in December 2010. He plans to become an entrepreneur, he says. “I’m preparing my future. I have a precise project but it’s too early to talk about it.”

Nonetheless he concedes that there had been concerns expressed by faculty over the for-profit executive education company set up by the school, which has private shareholders and uses adjunct faculty from outside EM Lyon. “The faculty had some difficulty in understanding that,” says Prof Molle.

In the past few years there has been a huge exodus of European deans, often precipitated by disagreements between professors and their boss - London Business School and IMD, in Switzerland, have been the two most high-profile examples. But in France many of the top schools have had the same dean for a decade or more. At HEC Paris, Bernard Ramanantsoa has been dean since 1995, while at Essec, Pierre Tapis has been in charge since 2001.

The school is now beginning the search for a replacement to Prof Molle. The first name to surface as a probably contender for the job is EM Lyon professor Patrice Houdayer, vice-president of graduate programmes.


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