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UC Davis Business School Dean to Step Down

September 5, 2008

Photo: Dean Nicole Biggart's face

Dean Nicole Biggart

Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, and an influential ambassador to the Northern California business community, has announced her intention to step down from her administrative post next July.

Biggart, who has served as dean since July 2003, will then complete a yearlong sabbatical before returning to full-time teaching and research.

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef praised Biggart as "an accomplished academic with an interest in the sociology of business. Nicole is a natural as dean. She's taken the school into a new era, from securing a $10 million gift for a new education building to establishing a campus in the Bay Area and continuing to build the Graduate School of Management's reputation as an innovative, collaborative and excellent business school. And she is a true campus citizen, always looking for opportunities to leverage the strengths of UC Davis in broader service to the region."

A national search for a new dean will begin immediately, with the goal of having Biggart's successor on board for the 2009-10 academic year.

As dean, Biggart's accomplishments include the launch of an annual survey of California women business leaders, which focused attention on the fact that only one in 10 top corporate executives and directors are women. She also oversaw the start of construction of Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, a new campus home for the Graduate School of Management. The new building, on schedule to open its doors in September 2009, will help anchor UC Davis' new gateway entry. Under Biggart, the school also developed a successful San Francisco Working Professional MBA Program, allowing UC Davis' entry into one of the nation's most competitive MBA markets. Next month, the school will officially dedicate a new teaching suite for the program in the Bishop Ranch Business Park in San Ramon. Additionally, the school launched a technology management minor degree program for science and engineering undergraduates.

Biggart said she began her term as dean "with several aspirations, and I am pleased that we have achieved substantial progress toward these goals in the past five years. The Graduate School of Management is well-positioned to explore new opportunities and to develop further. The faculty is widely recognized for their research and teaching skills and is among the best in the country as measured by rankings, research productivity and reputation. The school's staff is entrepreneurial, dedicated and willing to take on new challenges. And our students are among the best in the world."

Under Biggart's leadership, the Graduate School of Management has played a major role in promoting a culture of entrepreneurship at UC Davis. She was instrumental in establishing the school's Center for Entrepreneurship, which has educated MBA students and hundreds of scientists and engineers (from UC Davis and from research institutions nationwide) about the commercialization process.

In addition, the school has continued to earn national and international recognition. The Financial Times ranked the school No. 1 in the world in the field of organizational behavior, Biggart's specialty. Recruiters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal placed the school among the top 30 regional business schools in the U.S. The Aspen Institute's Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey ranked the UC Davis MBA program among the top 30 worldwide for integrating issues of social and environmental stewardship into curricula and research. And, for the 13th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Graduate School of Management among the top 50 business schools in the nation.

"I am deeply proud of the Graduate School of Management and UC Davis," Biggart said. "I feel that with all the momentum we are experiencing here on campus that this is the right time to step down and return to my teaching and research."

Biggart was among the first faculty members to join the then-Graduate School of Administration faculty in 1981, the year the school opened. She is an expert in organizational theory and management of innovation, with research interests in economic and organizational sociology, firm networks, industrial change and social bases of technology adoption. In 2002, she was awarded the Jerome J. and Elsie Suran Chair in Technology Management. She became dean on July 1, 2003.

Today, she is active and deeply engaged in the Northern California business community. She serves on the editorial board of Comstock's business magazine. She serves on the board of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance. She is a member of the Business Development/Entrepreneurship Action Team of Partnership for Prosperity, a diverse group of stakeholders that is building a business plan for the Sacramento region that leverages its unique strengths and market opportunities. Biggart also represents UC Davis on the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

The author of seven books or book-length reports, Biggart has also written more than 30 articles and chapters and numerous books reviews, and is a frequent presenter at international meetings. She has held leadership positions in the Academy of Management, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics and the American Sociological Association, and has served on the editorial boards of several professional journals. Her work has been published in many of her field's top scholarly publications.

Biggart received her bachelor's degree from Simmons College in Boston, Mass., a master's degree from UC Davis, and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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