The Binghamton University School of Management (SOM) is in search of a new dean.

In March, Upinder Dhillon announced he would be stepping down from his position as dean after being diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Dhillon died on April 23 after two decades serving as the SOM dean, having assumed the position in 2001. Now, the University is searching for a new candidate to take on the role.

Donald Nieman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and one of the faculty members in charge of finding a replacement for Dhillon, shared his condolences and praised the work Dhillon had done for the school.

“Upinder Dhillon was a superb academic leader with a keen intellect, but more importantly he was kind, caring, thoughtful and deeply concerned about others,” Nieman wrote in an email. “He was devoted to [SOM] and its faculty, staff and especially its students. He devoted his immense talents to building one of the best business schools in the [United States], all the while saying it was others who deserved the credit. On a personal level, he was a dear friend, and I miss him deeply.”

Nieman explained that the search process has been underway since last fall.

“In September, Dean Dhillon announced that this would be his last year as dean,” Neiman wrote. “We began a national search for his successor last winter, and we will begin interviewing finalists next week. We have conducted a national search, open to everyone, whether external to the University or a current faculty member.”

In a recent email to SOM students, Katie Collette, SOM undergraduate academic adviser and director, said the administration plans to have students involved in the search process.

“In the fall, Dean Upinder Dhillon announced that he was stepping down from his role as dean and returning to teaching,” Collette wrote in an email. “Due to his announcement last fall, a University search committee was formed and a nationwide search began. The University is now at the point where they will be bringing candidates to campus next week and the provost’s office has asked us to canvas SOM students to see if any students are interested in meeting with and providing feedback on the candidates.”

BU is hosting events next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for students to meet with prospective candidates and provide feedback to the provost’s administration.

Nieman outlined the qualities the University is seeking in the new SOM dean, including collaboration and leadership.

“[The University is looking for] someone who has superb leadership skills, understands the rapidly changing world of business education, inspires people to be their best, is committed to diversity and inclusion, is a strong listener and collaborator and has a passion for excellence,” Nieman wrote.

Some SOM students shared their thoughts on what they are looking for in a new dean. Matt Schwartz, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said he wanted a candidate with a combination of real-world business experience and engagement with the student body.

“As an SOM student, I believe that the new dean of SOM should be a candidate who has both a mix of professional experience as well as a vested interest in their students’ futures,” Schwartz wrote in an email. “I think there needs to be reconsiderations regarding the required classes for students and more of an emphasis on the concentration courses that are offered.“

Ross Mesnick, a senior majoring in business administration, said he wants a candidate that will improve the current format of concentrations within SOM.

“When comparing concentrations to other business schools with similar concentrations, SOM’s courses don’t seem to be standard for what is expected of a person with a certain concentration,” Mesnick wrote. “I wish concentrations had more structure and standardization in terms of the courses that students are offered.”

Mesnick also acknowledged Dhillon’s contributions to the school.

“I would want the next dean to continue former Dean Dhillon’s legacy of constantly finding ways to improve SOM for faculty and students,” Mesnick wrote in an email. “SOM would not be where it is today without innovative programs and offerings that were spearheaded by the former dean and I would hope the next dean would do the same to further improve SOM’s reputation among other business schools in the country.”