Catawba College names new business school dean

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2023

SALISBURY — After a national search, Imran Chowdhury, Ph.D., was selected as the next dean of Catawba College Ketner School of Business. 

He begins his new role on Sept. 18. 

“Dr. Chowdhury is an energetic leader who possesses a unique array of talents and experiences that made him the right fit for Ketner,” said Dr. David P. Nelson, President of Catawba College. “I’m grateful Dr. Chowdhury will lead Ketner School of Business into its very bright future.” 

Interim Provost Dr. ChaMarra Saner added, “Dr. Chowdhury has co-curricular and diverse experiences that will be an asset to the Ketner School of Business. He will make an impact on the business community that will extend our reach with his focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships.”

Chowdhury holds the Diana Davis Spencer Chair in Social Entrepreneurship at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and an appointment as a Professor of Business and Management. He previously served as a tenured Associate Professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York City and has held international visiting positions at Freie Universität Berlin (Germany); Montpellier Business School (France); CEFAM Business School (France); and ESSEC Asia-Pacific (Singapore). 

“It is a unique honor to have the opportunity to lead the Ketner School of Business at this moment,” Chowdhury said. “What drew me to Catawba is the College’s focus on two areas that are very close to my heart: a blending of the liberal arts with professional education and an orientation towards applying learning for the common good, including bettering the community within which Catawba sits. As attested to by KSOB’s recent recognition for outstanding career development initiatives and commitment to affordability, as part of Catawba College’s recognition as a 2023-24 College of Distinction, the Ketner School of Business is already a leader in connecting theoretical knowledge developed in a liberal arts environment to practical knowledge applied in the workplace and in the world of business.

“In addition, Catawba’s aspiration to be the premiere environmental liberal arts institution in the South illustrates the best of what an academic institution can bring to the vitality of its local region by means of a service orientation, with a focus on stewarding current resources for the benefit of future generations and on ensuring a sustainable world where all can thrive.”

Chowdhury indicated that he could not be more pleased to join Catawba College and that he looks forward to the support of a learning community that is “deeply committed” to preparing students to be citizens who take stewardship of the world seriously. 

At Wheaton, Chowdhury integrated the College’s social entrepreneurship and innovation programs with its liberal arts and sciences curriculum. That includes leadership of two co-curricular initiatives focused on entrepreneurship and social impact; the development of a field-based course that allows students to apply entrepreneurial frameworks and gain experience within biotechnology and social enterprise start-ups; and leading the development of an interdisciplinary MS in Sustainable Business degree. In addition, he conceived and implemented the annual student-led Wheaton Social Impact Conference, a gathering of social innovators in business, government, and nonprofits in New England and beyond, part of a larger effort focused on developing strategic partnerships with local, regional, national, and international organizations to create opportunities for student training and internships, knowledge sharing, and community engagement.

Chowdhury’s teaching has encompassed entrepreneurship, strategic management, and international management courses across undergraduate, graduate, executive, online, doctoral, and global programs at both Wheaton College and Pace University. Chowdhury’s research examines how companies simultaneously balance economic and social demands and work to develop ecosystems for social impact-oriented entrepreneurs. 

Chowdhury’s work has been published in leading outlets: Academy of Management Learning & Education; Advances in Strategic Management; Agriculture and Human Values; Journal of Business Ethics; Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences; Organization Studies; Research in the Sociology of Organizations; and Social Networks. I

t has been recognized with numerous awards and invited keynotes in South Africa, Taiwan and the United States.  

Chowdhury’s engagement with the business and academic communities builds on his academic expertise and early career working at a leading entrepreneurial biotechnology company in New York and Uganda. He recently completed a five-year Term Membership at the Council on Foreign Relations, has served on briefing panels for Members of Congress on entrepreneurship-related issues, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Mansfield Bio-Incubator in Massachusetts. At the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) annual meetings, Chowdhury has co-organized the “Social Sciences for the Real World Track” since 2019 and serves as a faculty mentor and member of the Organizing Committee for the SASE Early Career Workshop. His editorial work includes service on the Editorial Board of the Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Chowdhury graduated from Stuyvesant High School and earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, in anthropology and geography from Hunter College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received an Athena Scholarship. 

He completed graduate studies in France, obtaining a master’s degree at L’Institut européen d’administration des affaires (INSEAD), and a Ph.D. from L’École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales (ESSEC Business School).

“We are honored to have Dr. Chowdhury join Catawba College,” Saner said. “His scholarly achievements, fundraising, and administrative accomplishments will elevate our Ketner School of Business and the overall academic distinction of Catawba College.”

Chowdhury and his family will be moving to the Rowan County area this summer.

Dr. Christine Lynn will join Dr. Chowdhury in the Ketner School of Business as the new associate dean. Lynn began at Catawba in 2021 as the director of online programming and an adjunct faculty member at the Ketner School of Business. Over the last year, she has served as the Executive Director of Strategic Planning. Her new role will be effective this month.