The University of Chicago announced the appointment of two new deans this summer: Kenneth Polonsky as Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine and Sunil Kumar as dean of the Booth School of Business. Polonsky begins October 1. Kumar will begin his five-year term on January 1.
Polonsky has been appointed to succeed former dean James Madara, who resigned last fall in the midst of criticism regarding the Urban Health Initiative (UHI), a program that refers underinsured patients to neighborhood health clinics and hospitals. Everett E. Vokes has since acted as interim dean.
Polonsky returns to the University of Chicago after a term as chair of the Department of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and physician-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital since 1999.
Polonsky knows Chicago and the U of C Medical Center well—he completed his residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, and first became part of the U of C in 1978 for a fellowship in endocrinology. He joined the faculty in 1981 and developed ways to measure insulin-secretion rates in the 1980s.
Polonksy also has personal ties to the University — his wife, Lydia Polonsky, taught mathematics at the U of C Laboratory Schools, and all three of their children attended the laboratory schools. One of their daughters is a graduate of Pritzker School of Medicine, and another is a graduate of the Booth School.
Sunil Kumar, a specialist in operations research, currently oversees Stanford business school’s M.B.A. program. Kumar will be taking the post of Edward Snyder, dean of Booth for over nine years. Harry Davis, Professor of Creative Management at Booth, is serving as interim dean.
The Booth School expanded drastically under Snyder, receiving a $300 million gift from David Booth (MBA ’71) in 2008. Deans of the Booth School serve in five-year terms, and no dean has yet to serve more than two terms.
Kumar, who was born in India, received a Masters of Engineering degree in computer science and automation from the Indian Institute of Science and Bangalore, and a Bachelor of Engineering degree for Mangalore University in Surathkal.
Kumar earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and went on to join the Stanford faculty, where he taught courses on operations management, technology, critical analytical thinking, and revenue management.
His research focuses on performance evaluations, service operations, and communications networks. A simulator he developed is used in classrooms at business and engineering schools.