Northeastern formally installed Raj Echambadi as the inaugural Dunton Family Dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business on Wednesday night in the Visitor Center, where university leaders and accomplished alumni extolled him as a passionate leader and innovative thinker.
“You are going to make an impact,” President Joseph E. Aoun told Echambadi, to whom he presented a medallion in honor of his Dunton Family Deanship. “You’re very intense, and we love you for that. You’re very innovative, and we love you for that.”
The Dunton Family Deanship—established through a gift from Gary Dunton, DMSB’78, and his wife Lea Anne—is the university’s first endowed deanship. Through the deanship, the Duntons will provide a permanent flow of resources that the dean can use to empower students, advance faculty, and support new and existing programs.
“The endowed deanship places the D’Amore-McKim School of Business in the international conversation and will enable us to embark on major strategic initiatives,” said Echambadi, who officially joined Northeastern in August. “Our future is bright and our dreams are big,” he said, “and I’m here today because of all of your support.”
He added: “We are truly global in every sense of the word. We are innovative, agile, and resilient. We attract students and faculty from all over the world.”
The hourlong ceremony was not all business. Throughout his remarks, Echambadi cracked several self-deprecating jokes, delighting the score of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in attendance. Among the attendees were the Duntons and the Echambadis, including Raj’s wife, two daughters, and in-laws. “Behind every successful man,” Echambadi quipped, “is a very surprised father-in-law.”
‘You can count on me’
The Duntons—whom James C. Bean, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, described as “ambassadors and advocates for the university”— have forged many ties to Northeastern. Gary—who served in executive roles at Aetna, USF&G, and MBIA, Inc.—mentors students and is a member of both the Northeastern Corporation and the DMSB Dean’s Executive Council. Lea Anne co-chairs the Parents of Alumni subcommittee and is an advisor to Mosaic, an alliance of student-led organizations that support emerging entrepreneurs. Their daughter Julia graduated from Northeastern in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and currently works as a relationship management analyst at BlackRock.
“I have every confidence that we will continue to grow and prosper and innovate and attract all the talent we could possibly want,” said Gary Dunton, who received a standing ovation for his family’s gift to Northeastern. “You can count on me to continue to be involved with the school.”
Aoun gifted the Duntons a framed drawing charting the milestones in the 95-year history of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, the latest of which is their endowed deanship. “We want to thank you for believing in this institution, investing in this institution, and being so passionate about this institution,” he told them. “Your name will forever be associated with Northeastern.”
Richard D’Amore, BA’76, who teamed up with Alan McKim, MBA’88, to make a $60 million gift to rename the business school in 2012, underscored the Duntons’ commitment to Northeastern. “When it came time to give back, we realized we wouldn’t be where we were without the university,” he said, adding that he and Gary were “kindred spirits.”
“It’s special to us to have families like the Duntons join us on this journey,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re up for it.” Echambadi shared a similar sentiment, calling the Duntons the “epitome of grace, class, and excellence.”
‘We’re so excited to have you here’
Julia Dunton, DMSB’15, praised Echambadi, saying she is “so excited to have you here and so excited to see what’s to come.”
To Northeastern, Echambadi brings strong leadership experience and innovative thinking in business education. He came from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as senior associate dean of strategic innovation and as the Alan J. and Joyce D. Baltz Endowed Professor in the College of Business. He provided faculty leadership to the entire suite of Illinois’ MBA programs and developed strategic partnerships with other colleges within the campus, with corporate entities, and with universities around the world. He also developed numerous interdisciplinary graduate programs at Illinois, including those in the fields of bioengineering, genomic biology, and fine and applied arts.
Echambadi’s research focuses on technology entrepreneurship and strategic innovations. He’s published many papers in top business and statistics journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Marketing, and the Strategic Management Journal, and earned numerous accolades at the University of Illinois for his teaching accomplishments, among them the Campus Excellence Award in Professional and Graduate Teaching. He holds a doctorate in business administration from the University of Houston and an MBA and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University in India.
“I am a firm believer in the power of education to transform lives,” said Echambadi. “We in higher education are in the inspiration business.”
Near the end of his speech, he underscored the power of collaboration in educating the next generation of global leaders. “We already have many of the pieces in place,” he said. “We have tremendous intellectual capital and our students are some of the best and brightest in the world.”