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Yao named new UD Lerner College of Business dean

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Oliver Yao University of Delaware UD Lerner College of Business

Oliver Yao, of Lehigh University, has been named the new dean of the University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UDEL/EVAN KRAPE

NEWARK – Oliver Yao, interim deputy provost for graduate education and associate dean for graduate programs of the College of Business at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has been appointed the new dean of the University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Yao succeeds former Dean Bruce Weber, who recently left to take over the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, a well-respected business school where he previously taught as a professor. Yao was selected following a nationwide search and introduced by the university on June 27.

As his tenure as dean won’t begin until Aug. 1, Yao declined an interview request until after he takes office.

“I am delighted to welcome Oliver Yao to UD as the next dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics,” UD President Dennis Assanis said in a statement announcing the pick. “As a recognized scholar with extensive administrative experience at the department, college and university levels, his demonstrated vision for academic excellence integrating research, education and impact will be an enormous asset to UD. I look forward to our work together as we continue strengthening the identity of the Lerner College while embracing partnership and interdisciplinary opportunities across the University, including ongoing development of the Fintech ecosystem.”

In arriving at UD, Yao is only coming about two hours down Interstate 95, having spent the last 20 years teaching and serving at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland, received an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York, and completed his undergraduate studies at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Yao’s work has focused on the interdisciplinary fields of information systems and operations management, with research published in journals like Management Science, Information Systems Research, and MIS Quarterly. He received the 2009 and 2015 Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award that highlights quality research and refereed scholarship in business and applied economic disciplines at Lehigh. He also received Lehigh’s MBA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

From 2015-2018, he also chaired Lehigh’s Department of Management, responsible for recruiting and retaining faculty; overseeing research and all undergraduate programs; establishing funding support for faculty workshops and research; and growing enrollment. In 2020, he was named the interim deputy provost for graduate education, where he had oversight of all issues related to graduate programs and graduate students and was charged also with developing strategies to grow graduate enrollment and enhance the graduate student experience.

At Lehigh, Yao helped develop and implement a FinTech minor degree and the Startup Program Accelerator, an initiative that supports the creation of sustainable masters and certificate programs. Three graduate programs joined the Accelerator, with 40 students enrolled by fall 2022. He also worked to provide improved benefits for graduate assistants and fellows, including increasing the health insurance subsidy and establishing a minimum graduate student stipend.

“I am honored and thrilled to be appointed as the dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics,” Yao said in a statement. “The Lerner College has demonstrated excellence in both research and education with great achievements over the past decade. I look forward to working with President Assanis and Provost [Laura] Carlson to continue this progress. Together with the exceptional faculty, dedicated staff, talented students, and accomplished alumni, along with the support from the broader University of Delaware communities, we will nurture future business leaders who will take on the world’s most pressing challenges, empowered by a UD education that embraces and values a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.”

The incoming dean will take over a college that has grown to become one of UD’s most respected and attended programs over the last two decades, with about 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. Lerner College offers 17 undergraduate majors and 16 minors, nine master’s programs, and four doctoral programs with plans to grow its offerings under the guidance of the new dean.

Its Innovation Center in partnership with JPMorgan Chase has created a pipeline to careers in Wilmington, while the recently opened FinTech Innovation Hub offers an opportunity to help shape technology’s impact on the state’s core banking industry. Meanwhile, Lerner College also continues to host a well-regarded hospitality management program and the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance that continues to be a thought leader for Delaware’s respected legal bar.

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