John Fernandes to Retire as AACSB International’s Chief Executive Officer

John FernandesTampa, FL, USA—John J. Fernandes, president and CEO of AACSB International, has announced that after 15 years as its chief executive, he will retire April 30, 2015. Founded in 1916, AACSB International (AACSB) is a global nonprofit association devoted to the advancement of business schools worldwide.

Named as the organization’s first president and CEO in 2000, Fernandes is widely credited with growing AACSB from a domestic accrediting body to a full-service global membership association, accrediting body, and advocate for management education around the world.

“John’s tenure with AACSB has been transformational,” said Linda Livingstone, chair of the AACSB Board of Directors and dean and professor of management of The George Washington University School of Business. “Through his vision, the organization has enhanced its impact globally, has driven innovation in the management education arena, and has engaged a much wider set of stakeholders in thinking about how to enhance the quality of management education worldwide. His influence on the industry will be felt for many years to come, and the foundation he laid is already being built upon in significant ways.”

Since 2000, AACSB has emerged as the voice of leadership and resource of knowledge for business schools worldwide. It is under Fernandes’ leadership that AACSB embraced globalization as a cornerstone to its strategic operations and organizational mission. This success in globalization is demonstrated through dramatic growth in the organization’s global membership and accreditation base. Since Fernandes’ arrival, the percentage of AACSB member institutions based outside of the United States has grown from 18% to more than 52%, representing 85 countries and territories. Similarly, the total number of institutions based outside of the United States that maintain AACSB Accreditation has grown from approximately 4% to almost 30%, representing 47 countries and territories.

“From day one John provided an invaluable blend of experience and leadership, which propelled the organization forward. His consistent and resolute focus on AACSB’s global mission, and expansion of new programs and services, has only enhanced the value of AACSB’s accreditation and membership network,” said Andrew J. Policano, past-chair of the AACSB Board of Directors and the Dean's Leadership Circle Endowed Professor of Economics and Academic Director of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management at The Paul Merage School of Business, UC Irvine. “Externally, John has served as an assuring presence for AACSB in every corner of the world. His knowledge of the industry is highly respected and keenly sought after, and will be greatly missed.”

Through Fernandes’ guidance, AACSB has experienced an extraordinary period of success and notable firsts, including: the seamless relocation of its global headquarters from St. Louis, Missouri, to Tampa, Florida, in 2005; the opening of the organization’s first regional headquarters in Singapore in 2009, and the upcoming opening of its second regional headquarters in Amsterdam in January 2015. Additionally, AACSB hosted its International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in both Europe and Asia; introduced the award winning BizEd Magazine to the industry; released two significant Accreditation Standards revisions; added thought leadership guidance through its research and benchmarking activities; and dramatically increased the number and caliber of its professional development programs.

In reflecting back on his time, Fernandes commented, “AACSB has made significant progress in achieving its mission to advance quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership, and value added services. It is well positioned to assist business schools in meeting their missions in the future. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such a monumental time in the organization’s history. I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition to a new leader who will further AACSB’s position as a trusted source of knowledge and visionary for the management education industry.”

During his tenure with AACSB, Fernandes was honored to receive the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s (USASBE) Corporate Entrepreneur of the Year award, and the Consortium for Undergraduate International Business Education (CUIBE) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Support of International Business Education. Also, in 2012 the Academy of Strategic and Entrepreneurial Leadership established the John J. Fernandes Strategic Leadership Award in his honor.

In 2010 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson College, and in 2013 he was presented with the Profesor Honorario from ESAN University as well as a Doctor Honoris Causa from Grenoble Ecole De Management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Babson College and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston. He is a graduate of the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Harvard Kennedy School, and the University of Texas’ Public Executive Institute.

Fernandes currently chairs The PhD Project Foundation and is also on the boards of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME), and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI).

A search to identify a successor to Fernandes has been underway for several months, led by a special CEO Selection Committee and the AACSB Board of Directors. It is anticipated that a new successor will be named in early 2015.