Professor Susan Christoffersen, a leading researcher of mutual funds, asset management and the role of financial institutions in capital markets, has been appointed dean of the University of Toronto’s Joseph L. Rotman School of Management.
Currently the William A. Downe BMO chair in finance and co-academic director of the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab, Christoffersen will assume her new role on July 1, 2021 for a five-year term.
She previously served as vice-dean, undergraduate and specialized programs from 2015 to 2020.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and excited about the prospect of leading Rotman at this stage,” Christoffersen said. “I obviously have a strong connection to the school, having just finished a vice-dean role, and am incredibly humbled and honoured to be selected as dean.
“There is enormous talent within our student and faculty ranks, and I really look forward to the next five years of new opportunities and growth.”
As a member of Rotman’s executive leadership team, Christoffersen says she saw first-hand how the school’s community weathered the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. She hailed the “incredible dedication and problem-solving capability of faculty and staff,” and praised Rotman students for their resilience in adapting to the switch to online learning.
Christoffersen, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Queen’s University and a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, earned her PhD in finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She went on to hold a full-time faculty appointment at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management for more than a decade, as well as a visiting scholar position at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, before joining Rotman in 2010.
Her research has been published in leading financial journals and cited in prestigious news publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune. She has received an array of honours for her work, including from the Bank of Canada, the Swiss Finance Institute and Q-Group (also known as the Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance).
As vice-dean, undergraduate and specialized programs at Rotman, Christoffersen led the creation of the Master of Financial Risk Management and Master of Management Analytics programs, as well as the Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting. She also oversaw the restructuring and updating of the Master of Finance program, enabling it to consolidate its status as a leading degree in the field.
She is credited for championing improvements to Rotman Commerce, where she expanded academic advising, career and professional skills supports to students; developed a new curriculum to provide students with a greater depth and breadth in their undergraduate business education; and secured space to accommodate the program’s growth.
Cheryl Regehr, U of T’s vice-president and provost, lauded Christoffersen’s contributions to Rotman at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
“Professor Christoffersen’s vision and leadership during her time as vice-dean have been key to Rotman’s success in accelerating its specialized graduate offerings and in re-imagining its undergraduate commerce program, offered in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts & Science,” Regehr said.
“Across each of these programs, Professor Christoffersen has focused on developing curricula that are built on, and leverage, the research expertise at Rotman, while also resonating with the changing needs and interests of students.
“Her dedication to student success and excellence has been exemplary – and her leadership, vision, and passion for interdisciplinary approaches to research and education will be key to Rotman’s continued success in the years ahead.”
Christoffersen also oversaw the creation of the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab at Rotman, where she has served as co-academic director since 2018. Under her stewardship, the lab, which harnesses machine learning and artificial intelligence to advance the growing field of management analytics, has become a model interdisciplinary hub at the university.
She says interdisciplinary research and education will continue to be a fixture of Rotman’s offerings.
“One of the missions of Rotman is to provide insights into the important and complex issues facing business and society, whether it’s climate change and sustainability or machine learning and how economic problems can be tackled from a behavioural lens – and all of that requires insights from different disciplines,” Christoffersen said.
She added that Rotman benefits from U of T’s wide array of world-class scholarship and research.
“Rotman is in an incredible place, being part of a university where we have close proximity to leaders in various different disciplines, so we will continue to use that to our advantage to try and approach some of these big societal problems.”
In particular, she cited the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab, GATE (Gender and the Economy), BEAR (Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman), CDL (Creative Destruction Lab) and the FinHub (Financial Innovation Lab) as examples of Rotman initiatives that draw on different disciplines.
Christoffersen takes over from Interim Dean Kenneth Corts. The vice-dean, faculty and research, Corts has led the school since June 2020 following the departure of Tiff Macklem, who was appointed governor of the Bank of Canada.
She called Macklem and Corts “incredibly gifted leaders” whose contributions have consolidated Rotman’s strong position as Canada’s top business school.
“Tiff made dramatic changes over the six years that he was the dean, changing the school and giving it a new vision and focus,” Christoffersen said. “He supported me in terms of diversifying our programs, allowing for increased specialization and boosting our global advancement initiatives.
“Ken’s extraordinary leadership at a challenging time last spring ensured that Rotman could continue through the year and do as well as it did. He also pushed forward with a range of equity and diversity initiatives within the school.”
“I’m incredibly fortunate to be inheriting the benefits of both of their leadership, which has left us in an incredible place to push forward on initiatives to increase the global impact and visibility of Rotman – and to continue to grow and differentiate our premier programs that attract the best students from around the world.”