Scheller Dean Maryam Alavi steps down

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

Earlier this month, Maryam Alavi, the dean of Tech’s Scheller College of Business, announced to faculty, students and other members of the community that she will be stepping down from her position on June 30.  

Though her tenure is ending, she will remain a prominent faculty member through her newly appointed position as the Elizabeth D. and Thomas M. Holder Chair. 

In this role, she will continue her philanthropic efforts by contributing to the furthering of faculty assistance and care. Tech’s Foundation website reports that the Holder Chair will “give the Scheller College another crucial tool in attracting the best talent, retaining the brightest young faculty and competing effectively against top-ranked business schools.” 

Dean Alavi has been serving the Tech community since 2014. In the time that she has spent here thus far, she has accumulated a plethora of accolades and achievements.

She was given the title of the 2017 Woman of the Year by Women in Technology (WIT) in the state of Georgia. According to Kristin Baird Rattini’s piece in Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, “the award recognized [her] accomplishments as a mentor and role model for women and men pursuing careers in STEM fields.”

In reference to Dean Alavi’s many Tech-specific achievements, Scheller’s website reports that, “under her leadership, the College has achieved high marks in student academic success, career placement and faculty excellence and research. She has also instituted key initiatives focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion and staff engagement.”

Furthermore, Dean Alavi has upheld and even heightened the academic standards of the College during her tenure.

In the story covered by Susie Ivy on Scheller’s news catalog regarding the end of her term, it says that “[the College] has regularly been recognized as a top 10 business school among public institutions by U.S. News and World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek and The Financial Times.”

When asked about his reaction to Dean Alavi’s resignation, David Deiters, the associate dean of MBA programs, admission and career services, felt “very pleased for her, [as she had] indicated that she had enjoyed a relatively long deanship, and that she had reached the conclusion that it was time to return to her passions of teaching and research in her areas [of] speciality.”

He also went on to say that, “given the significance and magnitude of the events over the past few years — specifically, navigating COVID and the rush to virtual instruction, the Scheller MBA program achieving a STEM designation, a dramatic increase in the size and prominence of our undergraduate program, finalizing plans and funding leading to breaking ground on the new Scheller Tower in Tech Square and national leadership in MBA employment — [he thinks] her decision is completely understandable and [he supports and respects] it.”

According to Scheller’s website, no one has been selected yet to replace Dean Alavi. In the meantime, she will continue to carry out her duties. 

Following the end of Dean Alavi’s leadership, students began to voice their hopes and wishes for the future of the College. 

Natalie Fowler, a fourth-year BA student at the College, expressed her aspirations for the impending leadership.

“I want the College to make networking opportunities more prevalent. Though many already exist, a lot are exclusive to clubs and organizations. While these are helpful to the many Scheller students involved, I would love to see more opportunities for those who don’t have the time or resume space to join every organization on campus,” Fowler said. 

Though she has only been a student for one semester, Meri Mazurik, a first-year BA student and Elizabeth Dianne and Gene L. Ussery, Jr. Dean’s Scholarship recipient, agreed with Fowler’s statement on the air of inaccessibility within Scheller.

“In general, a lot of the resources are divided for the programs you are a part of. The Technology and Business minor — completed through the T&M program — has its own career fair and counselor, but only those in the cohort have access to them. Similarly, Scheller’s Dean Scholars get headshots that are paid for by Tech done regularly. Clubs like the Investments Committee even work like that. For instance, if you make it in, you can make use of their continuing education program,” Mazurik said.

Despite their desires for growth within the realm of inclusivity, both students have felt very pleased with the accomplishments of both Dean Alavi herself as well as the entire College.

“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry and college, I was always left feeling the effects of [Dean Alavi’s] words. I admire her confidence, achievements and the respect she commands. This was always greatly encouraging to me as a Scheller student,” Fowler said.

She continued on to say that “Scheller has an undeniable energy about it. I truly cannot imagine a time that being a part of Scheller did not encourage the idea that the world was my oyster if I learned how to dive for it. I believe this tone was set by the culture established by the previous administration.” 

Mazurik noted that she saw how Dean Alavi was “very passionate and committed to driving Scheller to be innovative” after hearing her speak at the benefactor dinner for Dean’s Scholars and donors. She left that event feeling inspired. 

Student and faculty input illustrate that the Tech community is grateful to have Dean Alavi’s continued presence in years to come, and are  excited to see the next chapter of the College unfold in the coming years.