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The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School has announced that its dean, James Dean, will be moving on after five years at its helm.

From July, Prof Dean will assume the academic leadership of UNC at Chapel Hill – the state’s flagship public university – as executive vice-chancellor and provost.

Having joined the business school in 1997, the professor of organisational behaviour oversaw executive education and the MBA programme before becoming dean in 2008.

Under his leadership, Kenan-Flagler has become something of a trailblazer in the development of online business education. Writing for the FT in March, Prof Dean argues that “From a teaching and learning perspective, there can no longer be any doubt that online education can match and, in some ways, exceed the performance of conventional education.”

Following the launch of its MBA@UNC in 2011, the school has stolen a march on peer schools in the market for premium distance degrees. With fees of more than $91,000, the MBA@UNC has integrated advanced classroom technology into distance MBAs through its partnership with 2U, the US technology company.

Throughout his tenure as dean, the school has remained a permanent fixture in the mid-table of the FT Global MBA Ranking and has risen up the FT ranking of customised executive education to be placed eighth this year.

Kenan-Flagler now joins Insead and the Wharton school in the hunt for a new dean. An interim appointment will be announced shortly.

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