Georgetown’s Christopher Puto named dean of University of St. Thomas College of Business and holder of Opus Distinguished Chair

Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, has accepted the position of dean of the University of St. Thomas College of Business.

Puto also will hold the university’s Opus Distinguished Chair for the Dean of the College of Business. The endowed chair was established this year with a gift from the Minnetonka-based Opus Corp. The gift enabled the university to attract an internationally prominent scholar and administrator for the deanship.

The appointment of Puto, 59, follows a two-year search for a dean of the College of Business, which was established last year to bring together graduate and undergraduate business programs.

Since 1998, when Puto’s deanship at Georgetown began, its business school’s MBA program moved into Business Week’s top tier, rose from No. 30 to No. 22 in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings and saw a 50 percent increase in applications. Its International Executive MBA program was ranked No. 9 by Business Week, and its undergraduate business rankings moved up as well. In just three years, the school also raised nearly half of its $150 million capital campaign goal.

The Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, described Puto as a "world-class dean. He has superb leadership skills and high standards; he also sets ‘stretch’ goals that will help our business school to become the best among business schools at Catholic universities."

Puto has held a variety of management positions in academia as well as the private sector. Previously he was associate dean and director of the MBA program at the University of Arizona’s Karl Eller Graduate School of Management. From 1984 to 1989, he was assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan. His decade of corporate experience included a vice presidency of Marathon Auto Supply Co. and national account management for the Ross Corp. of Miami, Fla.

For five years in the early 1970s, Puto was allied sales manager for the Burger King Corp.; among his responsibilities was developing the strategic foundations for the company’s successful "Have It Your Way" advertising campaign. He also has consulted for the Bank of America, Eastman Kodak, General Electric and Bank of America.

In 1985 Puto was the first person to receive a Ph.D. in business administration from Duke University. He received an M.B.A. from the University of Miami (Fla.) in 1966 and has a B.S. in economics from Spring Hill College in 1964.

Puto’s academic specialties are marketing strategy, consumer and managerial decision making, and advertising. His current research focuses on consumers’ responses to persuasion and the effect of non-price factors on consumers’ perceptions of value. He has published in a variety of journals, including Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research and Journal of Consumer Research.

He has won several research and teaching awards, including the Journal of Consumer Research award for the best article based on a doctoral dissertation and the Andersen Consulting Professor of the Year award in 1997. In 2000, he received the Enterprising Educators Award from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

"I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the success of the University of St. Thomas College of Business," Puto said. "Its Catholic nature was important to me. The university and the business school are already on an upward trajectory. There’s a genuine commitment by faculty and staff to continue to move the school forward; I want to participate in that process. There are so many good things in place, including the resources of community and university support. It’s exciting to be part of a place like St. Thomas."

Puto was born in Detroit and raised in Marathon, Fla., a small community in the Florida Keys. He and his wife, Anoka native and University of Minnesota graduate Dr. Susan Heckler, look forward to a move to the Twin Cities this summer. Puto begins his new position on Aug. 1.