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Roger Martin is stepping down after 14 years as the high-profile dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management business school. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Roger Martin is stepping down after 14 years as the high-profile dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management business school. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Rotman dean Roger Martin steps down Add to ...

Roger Martin, the high-profile public face of the University of Toronto’s business school, is stepping down after 14 years as dean.

Mr. Martin, 56, has notified staff and faculty at the Rotman School of Management that he will depart next June 30, one year earlier than his term was scheduled to end. He intends to work as a professor at the university and will head two research institutes at Rotman that are combining their offices.

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In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Martin said he wants more time to pursue his appetite for research and writing and is especially interested in turning his focus to what he sees as growing problems for the future of capitalism.

“I like writing, and this [dean’s role] is a full-time job,” he said. “It’s hard to get done as much thinking, research and writing as I would like.”

Mr. Martin said he did not want to start new projects with long time horizons while knowing there was no possibility of extending his term as dean beyond 2014. The university already gave him a rare third-term extension to the normally strict two-term limit for deans, he said, but there is no possibility of staying longer.

He said he began thinking about six months ago that he should depart earlier than 2014 because several major projects – including construction of a new business school building – are coming to maturity, leaving the ground clear for the next dean to launch his or her own major new initiatives.

“A new dean could come in and start dreaming 10-year dreams,” he said. “I just felt increasingly that I wasn’t about to start long-term things and then stick the next dean with them. I didn’t get stuck with a lot of long-term plans that previous deans had put in place – I had a relatively free rein.”

His main role in future, he said, will be to lead two research institutes long associated with Rotman: the Martin Prosperity Institute, which focuses on the role of cities; and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, which serves as the research arm for the Ontario government’s task force on competitiveness.

Mr. Martin’s shoes will be a challenge to fill. He has become the face of Rotman as a prolific author in scholarly and mainstream publications – he has been named one of the world’s top management thinkers by Thinkers50 – and as a well-connected member of Toronto’s business community. He sits on the boards of Thomson Reuters Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd., and previously worked for 13 years as a management consultant with Monitor Group.

Mr. Martin insisted he has no desire to become dean of another business faculty, even though he said he has been courted over the years by most of the world’s leading universities. He said he has told them he is “not in the dean business,” and did not aspire to rise up the ranks by leading business schools at larger universities.

Instead, he said, he decided to head the Rotman program because of a desire to help Canada build a world-class business school with a global profile. He said he also simply likes living in Toronto.

Mr. Martin said he is most proud of Rotman’s success in the past 14 years in building a global profile. The full-time MBA program now has 313 students, up from 130 in 1998, and 50 per cent of them are international students, compared with 10 per cent 14 years ago. The business school now has 120 faculty members, up from 36 when he joined in 1998.

The university’s search process for a new dean will likely take until 2014, Mr. Martin said, so it is likely an interim dean will be appointed to fill in when he leaves next summer.

Follow on Twitter: @JMcFarlandGlobe

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