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New SBE dean: “I won't be a bull in a china shop”

New SBE dean: “I won't be a bull in a china shop”

Photographer:Fotograaf: archive CBS

MAASTRICHT. The 54-year-old Danish economist Peter Møllgaard is to become the new dean of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) on 1 April. For the past three years Møllgaard has been ‘research dean’ at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS).

CBS is a large business school with 23 thousand students and more than two thousand staff. Just like the Maastricht SBE it is a so-called Triple Crown institute, with international accreditations by bodies such as EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB. A mere 1 per cent of all business schools in the world are honoured with this privilege, SBE proudly wrote on its website. Møllgaard has worked at CBS since 1996, became a professor in 2001, department chairman in 2005 and research dean in 2015. In that position he was responsible for the academic staff, departments and research programmes. He is looking forward to it, he tells us by telephone from Copenhagen, “the fact that I will now also be dealing with education and students at a managerial level.” At his business school they have an education dean for this purpose. The transfer from the much larger CBS to SBE is also interesting for that reason: “I did not have complete responsibility for the whole school, which will be the case when I am in Maastricht.”

One of the alluring elements at the UM, he feels, is Problem-Based Learning, “we do have that at CBS too, but not on such a large scale.”

Møllgaard thinks that he has a lot to offer SBE, “among others in the field of international recruitment of staff, where I have a great deal of experience. I also have subject-specific experience with interdisciplinary co-operation, especially with the STEM subjects, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.”

Yes, says Møllgaard, he knows that those fields at the UM will be at the centre of attention with the arrival of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The new dean is a man; Observant previously wrote that a woman would be preferred, considering the diversity policy of rector Rianne Letschert, who also chaired the advisory selection committee. But Letschert qualifies this: “I’m concerned about the balance. I told the recruitment agency that they should not submit a list of only male candidates, but the successful candidate did not necessarily have to be a woman. With Møllgaard, we now have four male and two female deans, in the Board of Deans, I’m the third woman, so that is a reasonable balance. Diversity is also served in another way, she says, by appointing a Danish dean. “It fits in well with our internationalisation policy, as we already have Belgian and German managers. The brief there explicitly stated to look for candidates abroad.

Møllgaard himself considers this an important topic too: “I have always been keen on diversity here in Copenhagen, and I don't mean just gender but other aspects too. When recruiting talent, you have to look as broadly as possible.”

Another hot issue concerning this dean's appointment was the question whether an internal or external candidate was preferred. From the very beginning the search was carried out along two tracks. In Observant 8 from 26 October two professors declared that, considering the phase in which the faculty found itself, with major on-going organisational changes, an internal candidate would be preferred. “There are serious choices being made, so you have to have someone within the faculty who is respected and who knows how things are done here. Someone who won't be a bull in a china shop,” said Piet Eichholtz, supported by former dean Jos Lemmink.

The new dean Møllgaard promises “that I won't be like a bull in a china shop. I have a lot of experience with organisational changes, I will keep my ear to the ground to find out what department chairpersons and the faculty council have to say. I am not worried about that.” He will be here in Maastricht in March at any rate to make his acquaintance with the faculty.

The rector is confident too: “The culture of an organisation is not really rocket science. We are talking about a dean from a top Danish business school and the type of topics that SBE is facing currently, can be observed in universities everywhere. He has everything to get off to a flying start in this faculty.” Letschert refrains from saying whether there were any serious internal candidates and why those did not make it.

At his request, Møllgaard's contract will not be for the customary four years but for five years. “I really wanted that, first five then three years; instead of two times four. Getting to grips properly with the situation and making an impact, takes time.”

At the back of his mind there was also the deliberation that he would in time move his family here. He has three children, one of whom is a daughter of thirteen who still lives at home. He is looking for a school for her. His wife, who has a managerial position in special education, also hopes to find work here. The UM may be able to help here. Letschert: “We will appeal to our networks in that case.”

The fact that he is trading in a metropolis like Copenhagen for a provincial city like Maastricht doesn't bother Møllgaard: “Maastricht is a charming city, I see it as the cradle of Europe, it is central, close to cities such as Brussels and Cologne. The Netherlands is also a very liveable country.”

He is planning on learning the language. It is not completely strange to him, “my sister is married to a Dutchman, and so I know a little bit already”.

The new dean is a sporty type; he runs, has a racing bicycle, swims and goes kayaking. In January, he and his wife together with a group of other Danish people climbed the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in aid of a charitable project. It is considered a ‘walking mountain’. “Five days to the top and two days to get down again. You find yourself at almost six thousand meters.” In an interview for his farewell as CBS research dean he was asked the question why he felt it was necessary to climb such a high mountain. “There is only one answer to that: because it’s there,” Møllgaard explained.










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