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For Clairo, “the third time’s the Charm.”
Review: “Charm” by Clairo
Published July 21, 2024

Q&A with new dean of Carlson School of Management

Dean Jamie Prenkert talked about the importance of connecting with the community, students, faculty and staff at the University.
Image by Photo by Shalom Berhane
Jamie Prenkert, the new Dean of Carlson School of Management, on June 12, 2023. Prenkert officially took over the role on July 3.

University of Minnesota Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel T.A. Croson announced in December 2022 Jamie Prenkert would replace Dean Sri Zaheer of the Carlson School of Management (CSOM) at the end of spring semester.

Prenkert, previously a professor and executive associate dean for faculty and research in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington, assumed the position July 3. 

Prenkert’s experience and commitment will make him a strong addition to the University community, Zaheer said in an email statement to the Minnesota Daily.

“During the transition, my confidence in Jamie has only grown,” Zaheer said. “He will lead this community forward, and I will be cheering loudly from the sidelines in my roles as teacher, scholar, and mentor.”

Prenkert sat down with the Minnesota Daily to talk about his new position and his goals for CSOM. 

Minnesota Daily: It was announced in December 2022 that you would be appointed the next Dean of CSOM starting July 3. What was this period between December and July like for you? What did you do during this time to prepare for your new role as dean?

Prenkert: “A lot. I had a really demanding full-time job at the Kelley School of Business at IU and that didn’t go away. I had very supportive colleagues there but there was a lot of work to get done. And of course, it was really important for me to really start to acclimate here, both personally and professionally, because I’m moving my family. So the spring semester was tremendously busy. The provost supported me having four trips here over the course of that time, for multiple days to a week, in February, March, April and May. I got to meet a lot of people – really spent a lot of time listening and learning. It sort of helped me feel more knowledgeable and positive about the place, but there’s no substitute for sitting with people who are going to be colleagues, who are going to be leaders alongside and having that opportunity to learn and discuss with them. It’s been a busy, exciting, stressful, super informative time.”

Daily: Are there any projects or initiatives former Dean Sri Zaheer began that you would like to continue?

Prenkert: “I guess I should start by saying the process of transitions between deans can be quite variable, and this has been really great. Sri has been a tremendous partner in ensuring that both she has been available to me and that everyone that I’ve wanted to seek to interact with has been available. I just want to say I deeply appreciate that she was a partner in this transition process. One of the things she has accomplished, in an incredibly admirable way, is to be so well-connected in the local community. Specifically the business community and the broader Twin Cities area business community. That is important for the school, for the University and something that as someone new coming from out-of-town, I’m gonna have to work to both replicate that and grow those relationships. I think also there’s a strategic remaining plan for the school that runs through 2025. I think there was lots of good and thoughtful work that went into that and it’s a great starting point. Strategic plans are always guidance and living works in progress, so I think working from that and looking forward is going to be an important thing.” 

Daily: How do you intend to rebuild the relationship between the Dean’s Office and faculty after Zaheer’s comments in 2021?

Prenkert: “I can’t really say anything about those particular comments, I wasn’t here. But what I can say is that it has been really great to meet with people and have confirmed that people at the Carlson School are smart, dedicated and really care about what it is that they do. That was what I had had a window into when I came to interview and it has just been deeply clear as I’ve had the opportunity to interact with people. I think one of the core commitments that I have as an academic leader that I think is really important is to really want to, and to have as a guiding principle, developing people, really allowing people to be the best that they can be, to work and to become the most excellent versions of themselves that they can be. That’s sort of something that’s both a principle for me and I find a lot of fulfillment in being a part of, creating those environments for that to be the case and finding ways for people to do that. There’s a colleague of mine who was a faculty colleague at Indiana, also was a friend and a neighbor who tragically passed away last year, and he had a motto that really resonates with what I just said, but have sort of adopted as my own: ‘People matter most.’” 

Daily: Have you received any hopes or concerns from students or faculty about CSOM? If so, how do you plan to address them?

Prenkert: “I think in the opportunities that I’ve had to interact with a broad range of people and one of the things I’m looking forward to is continuing that. I think that constructive feedback is always a really important part of learning about a new institution, a new place, a new group of people that you’re working with. I’ve been gratified that I’ve been met well in that process. I’ve been really processing what I’ve heard. Continuing in that is important to me and I’m taking all of that as I formulate the goals and initiatives we’ll be working on, taking those into account. Really, what I want is that the Carlson School is going to be the best place to learn and to teach, to research and discover, to find fulfillment in work and learning, and really serve all of the constituents that we have to the best of our ability. I think hearing people in the way that you ask about is an important part of that.”

Daily: What’s the best way for students to reach out to you or your administration?

Prenkert: “I do think that one of the things that I’ve learned, particularly in the process of getting to know this place better, is that there are really excellent student leadership and government organizations. I intend to be engaged in those groups, so one way for students to ensure that their voice is heard is to work through those organizations. That’s sort of an institutional answer, I think students should feel free to reach out to me if they want to reach out. Now, I do want to say that it may be the case sometimes that if I get contacted that way, that I will loop in someone. We have people all over the building who are experts in particular areas. I will loop in someone who is a far more expert or appropriate person or office or resource to address those things. I wanna ensure that students understand that is not a sign of pushing off or disrespect, it’s a sign of deeply appreciating what has come and putting them into the position to get the best service they get.”

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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