“Creating Leaders the World Yearns for Today”

Matthew J. Slaughter answers questions on a range of topics.

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On July 1, Matthew J. Slaughter, the Signal Companies’ Professor of Management and associate dean for faculty, becomes the 10th dean of Tuck. Here, he answers our questions on a range of topics, including succeeding Paul Danos, how his background prepares him for his new job, and what excites him most about the opportunity to serve as Tuck’s next leader.

How do you see your academic and professional background translating into your new role as dean?

I am an international economist, and much of my academic research and teaching has focused on the forces shaping higher education and business education today: how globalization, technological change, and public policy shape the performance of companies, industries, and labor markets. The widening interest in business education in emerging markets, the way advances in technology are changing how ideas can be delivered, and the greater scrutiny of education in the United States and many other countries: forces such as these make it a very exciting time for those of us in education. The work I have done throughout my academic and professional career will hopefully inform the thinking and activities we do here at Tuck. From 2005 to 2007, I had the opportunity to serve on the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Since then I’ve continued to work regularly with business and government leaders in Washington on topics including financial regulation, international trade, international tax, and immigration. This experience has enriched my teaching, my research, and all other aspects of my professional life at Tuck.

What excites you most about this opportunity?

Perhaps most exciting of all is the chance to help create the business leaders the world yearns for today. The world has always looked for business leadership. In the wake of the World Financial Crisis, people are still looking to business to create good jobs at good wages--yet there is now a greater ambivalence about business as well. Fairly or not, people worry about the integrity of business leaders. We at Tuck have long aspired to create some of the most successful and yet values-driven leaders in the world. At a time when so many are yearning for that rare kind of leadership, the chance to help lead Tuck to address those needs is very exciting.

What are your plans for getting started?

I plan on spending a lot of initial time in conversation with colleagues across the institution. Even though Tuck has been my professional home for many years, there is still a lot I can and need to learn about the school. Research shows quite clearly that when ascending into new leadership positions, people tend to succeed more when they view learning as integral to their leadership: learning from and teaching to others to help create visions of where an organization can go, why it should go in that direction, and the exciting gains that result from going there.

What do you see as Tuck’s greatest strengths?

One of Tuck’s greatest enduring strengths is its commitment to quality. Edward Tuck, in the founding letter he wrote to President Tucker, stressed the integrity of leaders. That perspective has guided the approach we have taken to business education throughout our entire history. It guides the quality of our faculty and their dedication to scholarship and bringing it into the classroom. It guides the amazing students we attract, who bring tremendous backgrounds and experience. It guides our terrific staff and our dedicated alumni.  Another core Tuck strength is our commitment to teaching. Part of what distinguishes us is the way we bring the knowledge creation of our faculty and the experience of our alumni into the classroom in a rigorous and relevant way—we do a terrific job at Tuck connecting the value of scholarship with the teaching endeavor. And a third strength long central to Tuck is experiential learning. Just look at the creation of the First-Year Project under Dean Danos—and, today, at our pending launch of a global experiential learning requirement. As the world of business becomes more global seemingly by the hour, we have decided that earning a Tuck degree will require taking at least one course somewhere around the world. That course will be taught to the high same standards as our other courses—to bring intellectual ideas alive in on-the-ground activities that prepare students for the opportunities they will have in their business careers beyond Tuck.

What opportunities do you see for collaboration between Tuck and Dartmouth?

I started my professional career in the economics department at Dartmouth teaching undergraduates. Tuck and Dartmouth are very similar institutions. Both have a tremendous commitment to broad learning, and both foster a strong sense of community among faculty, students, and alumni. Tuck has long drawn on many of the strengths of Dartmouth—such as in entrepreneurship, where I foresee even closer integration. Another trend I foresee is growing demand for business training and knowledge in the “near-undergraduate” space. This growth you can see in the age of GMAT test takers around the world and on campuses here in the United States. Tuck already collaborates with Dartmouth in this area—teaching three distinct business courses to undergraduates, and offering our popular Business Bridge Program. Perhaps we and Dartmouth overall will find even more collaborations here.

What is it like following a leader like Paul Danos?

If you just look at the data, there are not many deans who serve for 20 years at an institution as high quality as Tuck. Paul transformed the Tuck School from a very good institution to—in aspiration and, in many ways, in actuality—a world-class institution. Look at the increase in the range and impact of our programs; at the number of our centers and initiatives; at the scale and renown of our faculty; at the globalization of the school; and at the innovations in the curriculum. Paul helped lead so many of those changes that made Tuck the wonderful institution it is today. On a personal level, I will always be eternally indebted to Paul for all the big and little things he taught me, in formal and informal ways—first as a faculty member and then when I had the good fortune to serve with him in the dean’s office.

What is one thing people don’t know about you, but should?

Most people don’t know that if we get some say in what happens in our next lifetime, I will be returning as a successful PGA golfer. In the here and now I am an avid but mediocre golfer. One other thing everyone should know is that as much as I love my work and love the Tuck School, far and away the most important thing to me is my family. My wife Lindsey, our sons Nicholas and Jacob, our two dogs Teddy and Ollie, and the extended family that Lindsey and I have. This is what matters most to me in the world.