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Alison Davis-Blake Inaugurated as Bentley’s Eighth President
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota who has devoted her career to scholarship and teaching, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community. Davis-Blake had been elected unanimously by the board of trustees to lead Bentley into its second century, continuing the university’s rise from an accounting day-school on Boylston Street in Boston to one of the nation’s top business schools.
“This is a marvelous day for Bentley and for higher education,” said inauguration keynote speaker Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the Association of American Universities, who worked closely with Davis-Blake as the president of the University of Michigan when Davis-Blake was business dean there. Coleman praised her as “a new leader perfect for the opportunities that await Bentley.”
“To be an effective university president, you must look beyond the borders of the campus. Alison believes in building bridges,” Coleman said. “This is so important, both for students and the communities and companies they will join after graduating. Universities that connect with their communities are more effective, more respected and better positioned to make a genuine difference in people’s lives.”
At the installation ceremony, University Trustee Chairman Robert P. Badavas ’74 bestowed upon Davis-Blake the presidential medallion that bears the seal of Bentley University and symbolizes the authority and responsibility vested in the president as leader of the university.
In her inaugural address, President Davis-Blake said now is a transformative time for colleges and universities across the country. “Higher education has never been more important,” she said. “Here at Bentley, right here and right now, we have the exciting chance to imagine what the future of leadership in business and in society can be and to create business-focused education for the next generation of leaders.”
She urged students, faculty and others to foster a positive environment that thrives on diversity, focuses on the university’s strengths, and operates with integrity — and to carry that over to their careers. “We have choices about how we structure our organizations, how we motivate and sustain employees, how we inspire students to make a difference in their companies and their communities, and how we support businesses so they can do well and also serve the greater good.”
“The world is not getting any simpler,” she concluded. “But that’s just fine. Bentley is up to it. We are up to it, as we work together to define the future of business leadership in this country and for the world.”
The inauguration ceremony on Friday, Oct. 19, concluded a week-long series of activities for the Bentley community, with events designed for students, faculty and staff, to celebrate the inauguration of President Davis-Blake.
About Mary Sue Coleman
Mary Sue Coleman has been president of the Association of American Universities since 2016. Prior to joining the AAU, Dr. Coleman was president of the University of Michigan from 2002 to July 2014 (where she is now president and professor emerita) and president of the University of Iowa from 1995 to 2002. Long involved with the AAU, Coleman served as chair in 2011-2012.
Dr. Coleman has during her career as a faculty member and administrator been a national leader in higher education. The American Council on Education honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Coleman oversaw the groundbreaking partnership with Google to digitize the University’s 7 million volume library, launched enduring institutional partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, and India, revitalized student living and learning experiences through a residential life initiative, and worked tirelessly to promote economic revitalization and innovation within the state of Michigan.
In recognition of these efforts, Dr. Coleman was named by President Obama in 2010 to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke named her as co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she has promoted the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom and within the academic community, and she has worked in numerous venues to improve access to higher education for all.
About Alison Davis-Blake
Alison Davis-Blake, Bentley University’s eighth president, is an accomplished academician and a leader in higher education. She served as dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota (2006-2011) and of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (2011-2016). Dr. Davis-Blake holds an undergraduate degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Organizational Behavior, both from Brigham Young University, and a PhD in Business Administration from Stanford University.
Dr. Davis-Blake is a talented scholar with expertise in strategic human resource management and organizational design for effective management of human capital. Her research interests include the effects of outsourcing on organizations and employees; the design of effective organizational recruitment, salary and promotion systems; and the organizational consequences of relying on large numbers of temporary, contract and leased workers. She has taught courses in organization theory, organizational behavior, fundamentals of management, and strategic human resource management for students at the undergraduate, MBA, doctoral and executive levels.
While at Ross, Dr. Davis-Blake positioned the school globally for its new mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. This included increasing global study opportunities for MBA and Bachelor of Business Administration students and forming new partnerships with universities around the world. Under her leadership, Ross expanded activities in India, Japan and South Korea. Helping the school expand domestically, Dr. Davis-Blake brought the Executive MBA program to Los Angeles and introduced the Master of Management and Minor in Business programs.
Dr. Davis-Blake was the first female dean at both Carlson and Ross and is Bentley’s second woman president. Earlier in her career, she served in multiple positions at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, including senior associate dean for academic affairs and chair of the Management Department, as well as at Carnegie Mellon University, where she taught in the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School of Business).
Dr. Davis-Blake’s husband, Michael, is a physicist who has spent most of his career developing scientific software that takes algorithms from university labs and makes them usable outside the lab. Alison and Michael have two sons: Kent, who graduated from Stanford University with a BS and MS and works at a technology firm in Silicon Valley, and Gordon, who is currently studying at Stanford.