Leadership Program for Deans

Leadership Program for Deans

Time and Place


Next year: 4-6 September 2024

Location: SQUARE, University of St.Gallen


Faculty Chairs

Bernhard Ehrenzeller, President of the University of St.Gallen

Monika Kurath, Dean Research & Faculty, University of St.Gallen

Caspar Hirschi, Dean School for Humanities and the Social Sciences, University of St.Gallen


Faculty and Educational Co-Chairs

Katharina Holzinger, President of the University of Konstanz

Robert E. (Bob) Kennedy, Former Dean Nanyang Business School in Singapore and Western University's Ivey Business School in Canada 

Claudio Fester, Senior Partner Emeritus and Senior Advisor at McKinsey & Company 



University deans are academic leaders that take responsibility for all matters relating to the strategic, educational, budgetary and administrative affairs of their school, department or ‘Fakultät’. Deans are charged with providing the vision and leadership needed for their units to advance the University’s research, teaching and service missions. They have a leading role in defining new academic positions and hiring new colleagues. As primus inter pares in expert organizations, the dean acts at the interface between their unit and the overarching and sometimes conflicting interests of the university as a whole. Depending on the loyalty of their colleagues, an array of internal and external challenges, issues and conflicts are to be addressed and solved.

The HSG Leadership Programme for Deans provides practical orientation to the deans’ role. It strengthens the leadership capacities of deans, familiarizes them with the opportunities and hazards they will likely face and prepares them to respond to the multiple responsibilities that await in their new roles.

View the flyer here.



This two-and a half-day workshop at the University of St.Gallen provides an intensive learning, reflecting, and networking opportunity for deans, especially at the start of their tenure, and a service to Swiss, German and European Union universities. Topics of the workshop include key issues that deans in their multiple roles and responsibilities will face as part of being a university leader. This interactive workshop is part of HSG’s executive education programme and includes a social program for approx. 20-30 participants.

Furthermore, this format aims at providing a platform for regular exchange through follow-up meetings. We aim to recruit experienced members as coaches for later implementation.

Focus: Universities DACH/EU

Language: English

Costs and registration: early bird registration CHF 1900 per person, regular registration CHF 2700 per person
4-6 September 2024 / early bird registration until 31 March 2024, regular registration deadline 30 June 2024



The course pedagogy aims for an open and discursive format, with inputs from HSG faculty, Swiss university leaders and international university leaders, and discussions. This programme focuses on the role of the dean in its ‘sandwiched position’ at the interface of leadership and managing colleagues in an expert organization including topics such as:

  • One’s own role as a dean: from an organizational and an individual leadership perspective

  • The university as an organization, leadership and decision-making processes in expert organizations and how to lead without authority

  • The role of the department/school within the university; department/school strategy, faculty management; hiring procedures

  • Operational and administrative affairs, what a dean has to know

  • Dean’s dilemmas; discuss your own disasters and success stories

  • Winning the trust and commitment of colleagues

  • Strengthening deans’ leadership skills in tough conversations

  • Building up a strong network among peers that can be used to continue coaching each other

  • Reflect on own difficult situations in small groups and apply peer to peer coaching.  





Day 1 | Morning

 Welcome, round of introduction, aim and outline, input: role of the dean from an organizational perspective

Day 1 | Afternoon

 Peer to peer coaching: Dean’s dilemmas; cases from the participants

Evening Program

 Hike to Alpstein, fireside chat with university presidents

Day 2 | Morning

 Strategies for the department/faculty/school: Faculty management; academic pipeline, chair planning,

 job profiles, programme design and hiring procedures

Day 2 | Afternoon

 Skills: Leading without authority and leading tough conversations

Evening Program

 City tour, abbey library, dinner

Day 3 | Morning

 Academic integrity, crisis management and the deans’ role, peer to peer coaching



We would be happy to welcome you in St. Gallen. Please note the AGBs. In case of questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at


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