Oliver Yao, Ph.D.

Oliver Yao Named Dean of College of Business and Economics at University of Delaware

Yao has been a key collaborator in several roles at Lehigh for two decades.

Oliver Yao, Ph.D., interim deputy provost, associate dean for graduate programs in the College of Business and George N. Beckwith ’32 Professor of Information Systems, was announced today as the next dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware, effective August 1, 2023.

“I am eager to see what lies ahead as I assume the role of dean at the University of Delaware,” Yao said. “I have spent 20 wonderful years at Lehigh, my second home, where I have grown both personally and professionally. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the countless memories, experiences and opportunities at Lehigh.”

Throughout his career at Lehigh, Yao has made prominent contributions to Lehigh’s academic and research communities.

Two Decades of Growth at Lehigh

Yao joined Lehigh in 2003 as assistant professor in the College of Business and Economics following a year-long position as assistant professor at California State University San Marcos.

In his most recent role as interim deputy provost for graduate education, in which he has served since 2020, Yao has supported all aspects of graduate programs and graduate student life at Lehigh. He has approached graduate enrollment with a vision for the future, developing innovative strategies to grow enrollment and fostering the creation of interdisciplinary programs between colleges. His input was critical in developing and implementing the Startup Program Accelerator, an initiative that supports the creation of sustainable masters and certificate programs. Three graduate programs joined the Accelerator, with 40 students enrolled by fall 2022. He has also worked to provide improved benefits for graduate assistants and fellows, including increasing the health insurance subsidy and establishing a minimum graduate student stipend.

As associate dean for graduate programs, a role held since 2018, Yao oversaw the Flex MBA, 1-MBA, M.S. in management, M.S. in business analytics, M.S. in financial engineering, M.S. in applied economics, and Ph.D. in business and economics, as well as two graduate accounting programs that were discontinued in 2022. His efforts were crucial in growing enrollment substantially. Under his leadership, the college achieved a 95 percent placement rate for the Class of 2021 with employers such as JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Amazon, Vanguard and more.

When the present Decision and Technology Analytics (DATA) department was a part of management, Yao served as chair. His work was critical in growing the business information systems major from 24 to 112 students in just five years. He also expanded full-time faculty in the department from 19 to 23. He collaborated with the department of finance to establish a new FinTech minor in 2017, with 19 students enrolled by 2019.

At Lehigh, Yao’s research was focused on the interdisciplinary fields of information systems and operations management. He has published more than 30 refereed articles, many of which were published in top business journals. He received the 2009 and 2015 Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award, which highlights quality research and refereed scholarship in business and applied economic disciplines at Lehigh. He also received Lehigh's MBA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

Through his research, teaching positions, and collaboration with students, Yao fostered a sense of community on campus that shaped his career and work.

“I have had the privilege of working alongside colleagues who have become lifelong friends and mentors,” Yao said. “Their support, collaboration, and friendship have played an instrumental role in shaping my career and enriching my life. Lehigh will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

“Oliver administered programs in the College of Business with talent and expertise,” noted Georgette C. Phillips, Kevin and Lisa Clayton Dean of the College of Business. “From his time as department chair to his role as associate dean, we could always rely on Oliver’s skillful leadership. All of us at Lehigh Business wish him the best."

“Oliver has been a fantastic colleague and partner since taking on the interim deputy provost role in 2020,” said Provost Nathan Urban. “He has been instrumental in enhancing and expanding graduate programs in the College of Business and across the university. He also has been central to our efforts to enhance the experience of and environment for graduate students at Lehigh. He is a dedicated leader, an advocate for our students and a champion of their work. I am grateful for his collaboration and contributions to Lehigh.

“We should be proud that Oliver’s success here at Lehigh has led him to be chosen for this important role at the University of Delaware. I hope that the Lehigh community will join me in congratulating Oliver and thanking him for his service to Lehigh.”

Yao holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

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