Oliver Yao, who currently serves as associate dean for graduate programs and the George N. Beckwith ’32 Professor in the Lehigh College of Business, has been named Interim deputy provost for graduate education. Yao succeeds Beth Dolan, who was recently named Interim Dean of the College of Health.
In his new role, Yao says, he will strive to support all aspects of graduate education at Lehigh, from academic programs to professional development opportunities to the graduate student experience. He will work closely with the deans of Lehigh’s five colleges to improve existing programs, seek out new curricular opportunities in emerging fields, support student life initiatives and bolster graduate student recruitment, including recruitment of underrepresented populations and international students.
“Lehigh’s graduate students are essential to the university’s mission. Oliver recognizes the critical nature of their work and is committed to ensuring a meaningful and rewarding graduate experience for all. We are pleased that he has agreed to take on this important role,” says Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
“Graduate students and graduate education are integral to Lehigh University,” Yao says. “In this role, I will serve as a voice for our graduate students, and as a champion for graduate education. I want to help each college foster a very professional and encouraging environment, to help them build great academic programs and interdisciplinary programs, and to create a really strong infrastructure to support all of these efforts.”
Yao first arrived at Lehigh in 2003 as an assistant professor. He was named the C. Scott Hartz ’68 Term Professor in 2006, was elevated to associate professor in 2010 and was named chair of the Department of Management in 2015. He has held the Beckwith Professorship since 2012. His research interests are focused on the interdisciplinary fields of information systems and supply chain management. His research has been published in such journals as Management Science, Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Marketing Science, Operations Research, Journal of Operations Management, and Production and Operations Management. He serves as associate editor for Information Systems Research and senior editor for Production and Operations Management.
Yao is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In both 2009 and 2015, he received the Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award, which highlights quality research and refereed scholarship in business and applied economic disciplines at Lehigh. In 2015, he was honored with the Lehigh MBA Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2017, he received the Allen N. Nash Distinguished Doctoral Graduate Award from the University of Maryland.
In his years at Lehigh, Yao says, he has been impressed with the quality of the university’s graduate programs, which he says is the result of the university’s strong faculty.
“Lehigh is very well known in the world of graduate education,” Yao says. “I truly believe that we do it very well, and that’s largely because we have world-class faculty teaching in our programs. In some of our doctoral programs, our faculty are among the top researchers in their field. In our professional master’s degree programs, we have researchers and faculty members who have really impressive industry experience; they bring that experience to the classroom and are able to build a bridge between theory and practice.”
Acknowledging the challenges that COVID-19 has placed before everyone at Lehigh, Yao says he understands that graduate students can’t currently engage in many of the activities, academic or otherwise, that were once central to graduate student life at Lehigh. But he says he is committed to working with the university leadership to not only maintain the high standard of Lehigh’s graduate programs, but also to seek out creative ways of fostering engagement and connection even during a time of pandemic.
“This is something I feel very deeply in my heart,” Yao says. “I think the four years I had in college, and then the years I spent in graduate school, were the best years of my life. So I feel for the students and how they are being impacted by COVID right now. We are doing our best to make up for that, and create a positive experience for them.”