New, yet Known

Dean Marianne Lewis at home pursuing innovation, creating shared vision for college’s bright future

“I didn’t expect to be back here – yet it feels perfect!”

Standing in the atrium of the new Carl H. Lindner Hall at her welcome reception on July 1, 2019, Marianne W. Lewis, PhD, shared her amazement to find herself back in Cincinnati surrounded by former and new colleagues.

As the tenth dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, and the first woman to hold the position, Marianne is the consummate innovative leader. Equal parts grit, radical candor, curiosity and confidence, she is much of who she was during her first tenure with Lindner — 1997 to 2015 — and a lot of who she’s developed into since. She’s new, yet known. She’s Marianne.

Marianne Lewis greets colleagues at her welcome reception in Lindner Hall

Over a reception with coffee and doughnuts, university faculty, administrators and staff gave Lewis a warm welcome — or, welcome back — to Lindner on July 1, 2019.

“I’m still the same Mare that many of you know, but I’ve grown and changed in so many ways,” she told Lindner faculty and staff her first morning. “And I know that this place — the Lindner College of Business, UC and certainly each of you — has changed a great deal, too."

Marianne is spending her first 100 days listening and learning with faculty, staff, alumni and partners in Cincinnati and beyond. Her aim: lay the foundation for a transformational vision, business model and strategy to fuel Lindner’s collective ambitions.

As she’s been reacquainting herself with the college, we are getting reacquainted with her.

The triple jump

In 2015, Marianne, then Lindner’s associate dean for undergraduate programs, was immersed in projects that demanded both the theory and practice of her expertise: leadership, organizational change and innovation.

Within the college, she was building teams to support newly-minted programs she had championed, from honors programs like the Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholars and Circle of Excellence to new diversity and inclusion initiatives, Business Fellows and Lindner Women in Business.

At the university level, she had served on the executive team managing the three-year conversion from academic quarters to semesters. In this massive change project, touching every corner of the university and its academic programs, she saw opportunity. As she often proudly shares, Lindner teams transformed the first-year experience, co-op and the undergraduate program into what became Lindner’s PACE curriculum — instilling principles of professionalism, academics, character and engagement for all business students.

As if that wasn’t enough, her research had positioned her as an international thought leader. She was contributing to leading industry and academic journals and delivering keynotes around the globe.

Marianne Lewis at the annual Kolodzik Business Scholars Alumni & Friends event, April 2019.

Marianne at the annual Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholars Alumni & Friends event in April 2019.

In the brief and rare quiet moments, Marianne found herself asking, “What’s next?”

That new role, in a new institution, in a new culture — the triple jump — was but a phone call away. Thanks to her sabbatical UK Fulbright scholarship and growing European network, she was approached to lead London’s Cass Business School.

“I looked around and realized I had contributed all I could to Lindner,” said Marianne. “I needed a steep learning curve. It pained me to leave UC, but to uproot and lead a globally ranked business school … I knew the challenge would push me in ways I couldn’t even imagine.”

Living, and thriving, with paradox

Marianne acknowledges — embraces, actually — the paradoxes in her life. Innovative and disciplined, driven and caring, globally and locally oriented, she left UC, what she refers to as home. And she didn’t think about returning until she saw the chance to lead Lindner’s next transformation.

Her father, her most treasured mentor, served as professor at Stanford and then Harvard, before becoming senior associate dean of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, then president of Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Initially determined to lead in industry, Marianne pursued business and management in college, only to become an academic herself.

When it comes to leading and thriving with paradox, she truly practices what she preaches. After all, Marianne wrote “Exploring paradox: Toward a more comprehensive guide,” which received the prestigious Academy of Management Review Best Paper Award in 2000 and is among the most cited articles in the field.

“My research explores the paradoxical nature of business, leadership and life,” she says. “Innovation, in particular, is a paradox, which is partly why I study it. It’s novel and useful. Something different that makes a difference. Purposeful. Practical.”

Left to right: Abbie Smith, Ruth Seiple, Marianne Lewis, and Chandler Rankin.

Left to right: Abbie Smith, '20, undergraduate student body vice president; Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholars Director Ruth Seiple; Marianne and Chandler Rankin, '20, undergraduate student body president.

Marianne views the innovation paradox as a vital tug-of-war that all organizations must engage.

“There is the innovation that is blue sky, radical change, and then there’s getting better at your existing, core strengths. Together, these elements provide the yin and yang of sustainable innovation. Every company is trying to figure this out.”

Marianne’s take: Keep it simple, be bold, and remain disciplined, a philosophy she draws on repeatedly from her participation in helping UC convert to semesters.

“I remember watching Nancy Zimpher, then UC president, hosting these town halls with more than 100 people, and being able to take and integrate feedback and implement new ideas in ways that were radical for our institution, while better leveraging our core distinctions,” said Marianne. “I used to be overly focused on being creative and experimenting. I could be reckless in my risk-taking. But I’ve learned that you have to be disciplined. Set boundaries, goals. Focus on incremental improvements, too.”

What's Next?

The first 100 days are essential in a new job. It’s a time for listening and learning, giving all one can.

“It’s not just about who to meet, but how to absorb and integrate,” said Marianne.

From managing natural workplace paradoxes to unifying faculty, staff, alumni and partners through a collective vision, Marianne is energized to apply all she’s learned in her career to her role as Lindner’s dean.

“What’s next?” Marianne ponders, “Well, to use President Pinto’s mantra, Next happens at UC. And Lindner is on the move – poised for transformation. I returned because of my colleagues here, passionate about developing the business insight, talent and partnerships that empower futures. And the fit feels perfect!”

Lindner Transformation 2030

Redefining the Lindner Experience through purpose, distinction and impact.

Marianne is working with faculty, staff, alumni and broader community to develop a five-year strategic framework that will prioritize the faculty and program portfolios, community partnerships, and the Lindner brand.

Marianne Lewis: Through the Years


Assistant Professor of Management, Lindner College of Business


Associate Dean for Innovation and Program Development


Named Director of Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholars


Named Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs


Joined Cardiff University as a UK Fulbright Scholar


Named Dean of Cass Business School, City University of London


Returned to the University of Cincinnati as Dean of the Lindner College of Business

CV Highlights

Research and Teaching Interests

Research, Organizational Change, Innovation and Paradox

Awards and Honors


Academy of Management Annals Best Paper Award Runner-up, 2016
INFORMS Best Technology Paper, Organization Science Runner-up, 2009
Academy of Management Review Best Paper Award, 2000
Journal of Management Education Paper of the Year Runner-up, 2000                 

Teaching and Education

Kappa Alpha Theta – National Outstanding Faculty of the Year, 2013 – 2014
University of Cincinnati Professor of the Year (Order of Omega), 2013 – 2014   
University of Cincinnati Academy of Fellows for Teaching and Learning, 2009 – 2015
Harold J. Grilliot Award for Service to Students, 2008
EXCEL award for Undergraduate Teaching, 2000

Notable Publications

Miron-Spektor, E., Ingram, A., Keller, J., Smith, W.K., & Lewis, M.W. 2017. Microfoundations of organizational paradox: The problem is how we think about the problem. Academy of Management Journal.

Smith, W.K., Lewis, M.W., & Tushman, M.L. 2016. Both/and leadership. Harvard Business Review. 94(5): 62–70.

Schad, J., Lewis, M.W., Raisch, S., & Smith, W.K. 2016. Paradox research in Management Science: Looking back to move forward. The Academy of Management Annals. April: 1-60. Academy of Management Annals Best Paper Award 2017 Runner-up

Smith, W. & Lewis, M.W. 2011. Toward a theory of paradox: A dynamic equilibrium model of organizing. Academy of Management Review, 36: 381-403.

Andriopoulos, C., & Lewis, M.W. 2009. Exploitation-exploration tensions and organizational ambidexterity: Managing paradoxes of innovation. Organization Science, 20: 696-717. INFORMS Best Technology Paper of Organization Science 2009 Runner-up

Lewis, M.W.  2000. Exploring paradox:  Toward a more comprehensive guide, Academy of Management Review, 25: 760-776. Academy of Management Review Best Paper Award for 2000


PhD: University of Kentucky
MBA: Indiana University
BA: Tusculum College