Meet Boston Questrom’s First Female Dean, Susan Fournier

Susan Fournier

What does it take to be the first female dean at your business school? It takes a lot of experience, know-how, and pioneering research. That’s precisely why Boston University’s Questrom School of Business choose Susan Fournier to be the first female to lead the school. After 13 years as a marketing and management professor at BU and as a leading international expert on brand marketing, she was an obvious choice.

“She brings a remarkable tool kit of experience and knowledge to this role—and a genuine connection to the students, faculty, and staff, who are the heart of Questrom,” Jean Morrison, BU Provost and Chief Academic Officer, told BU Today. “I am excited to welcome her to this role and to follow her success as she guides Questrom to continued excellence as a leading global business school.”

Meet Susan Fournier

Susan Fournier, Questrom Professor in Management, will become the new dean of the Questrom School of Business, effective August 27. Fournier is an international expert in brand marketing / Photo by Dan Watkins

Dean Fournier is well known at Boston University and in the field of marketing. She’s credited with pioneering brand relationships; a marketing field that explores the emotional relationships between consumers and brands. Fournier has written two acclaimed books on branding as well as participating in numerous best-selling Harvard case studies. Most recently, Fournier’s soon-to-be-published paper examines the pitfalls of celebrity-based branding, focusing on Martha Stewart’s 14-year career.

Fournier’s research has received several awards including the JRC Long-Term Contribution Award from the Association for Consumer Research as well as Emerald Publishing’s Citation of Excellence Award for the top 50 articles in management. Other awards include being ranked among the Top 10 percent of authors on SSRN regarding all-time downloads. She also claims over 20,000 Google Scholar citations with five works garnering over 1,000 citations each.

On her new role, Fournier sees a strong correlation between research specialties and her position as dean. They’re both about relationships.

“I have deep knowledge in the psychology and sociology of relationships, how they develop, how they fall apart, what kind of flavors they come in,” she says. “The whole point of what I do is looking at why people connect with things, what role brands, products, organizations have for people in their lives. It’s not about selling a product, it’s about understanding people’s lives … and trying to help them.”

Beyond her research, Fournier is a celebrated professor with over 24 years of experience in academia covering the gambit from teaching undergraduate courses to teaching in MBA and Executive classrooms at such prestigious schools as Harvard Business School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and Questrom.

Before her new role as Dean, Fournier served as the Senior Associate Dean of Faculty & Research and Faculty Director of the Questrom MBA and Doctoral programs. During that time, she hired 22 tenure-track research faculty and 18 non-tenure track faculty across disciplines and departments.

Outside of academia, Fournier worked as a market research consultant for companies such as Polaroid Corp., Altria, IBM, Coca-Cola, and Chick-fil-A, according to the Boston Globe.

What To Expect

“I will be the champion of the Questrom School of Business brand,” Fournier tells BU Today. “I will be looking out to make sure all the decisions we make are on brand and are going to build our equity as a preeminent academic institution, from every person we hire to every course we develop to every institute we endow.”

Fournier has many exciting plans for Questrom. Not only will she work to increase interdisciplinary programming, but she’ll also ensure Questrom’s financial security and aligning coursework with student and employer needs. And her work has already begun breaking down outmoded silos in favor of interdisciplinary programming. She has helped eliminate boundaries in hiring, interfaces, and education in general.

“I’m trying to further establish our reputation as a preeminent research and teaching institution and develop our reputation for research that matters and faculty who care,” Fournier says. “We need strong partnerships with industry and organizations both to provide data for research that matters but also to be in partnership with us in the development of courses and projects that students would work on for hands-on learning. I have a stakeholder perspective from having worked and lived on the other side.”

Also, Fournier plans to focus on online and experiential learning, global partnerships, and practical and pragmatic research particularly in focus areas such as health, social impact, and digital technology. She sees these areas of the economy as important spaces to “double down” by hiring more faculty, building research institutes, and implementing new programs and concentrations.

Fournier told The Daily Free Press that she also plans to build more partnerships between faculty and research tracks in those areas. “We already have what I would consider to be a fantastic culture, but let’s further enable the collaborative culture, and in particular … interdisciplinary work and ideas and projects and partnerships,” she says.

High Expectations

As for what the Questrom School can expect its new dean? It’s an exciting time for the school, and University President Robert A. Brown gives her his enthusiastic support.

“Susan assumes the role of the dean of the Questrom School of Business during an exciting time for the school, for business education, and the University,” Brown told BU Today. “I look forward to working with her to continue the journey of increasing the quality and impact of the school’s education and research programs.”

And Fournier is excited as well, not just about being the first female dean at Questrom, but about being a great dean in general.

“We’ve never had a woman dean, and it’s definitely notable and wonderful,” Fournier told The Daily Free Press. “But I also would say that at the same time, I want to be known as a great dean, not first and foremost as a woman who happened to get a dean role. I’m really looking forward to the day when that doesn’t even have to be a question anymore.”

Find the original school press release about the Susan Fournier appointment here.


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

Let us find your Program match!!

  • Please only indicate the regions you are interested in pursuing your degree. If you select, "all regions" you do not need to select individual regions.
  • Looking for help? Check the box(es) below!
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your compare list