Eller Alumnus Is Now Dean of the University Maryland’s Business School


Prabhudev Konana ’91 MBA ’95 PhD never intended to study management information systems. Instead, he was pursuing an MBA at the Eller College of Management. But life had different plans in store for him—he completed his MBA and went on to earn a PhD in MIS from the Eller College. After teaching for more than two decades at the University of Texas at Austin, he became dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in January 2021.

Konana’s journey began in India, where he grew up and received his bachelor’s degree. He then worked for six years before deciding to make a change. “I worked in public sectors in India and was frustrated with the inefficiencies and corruption going on, so I started looking for an MBA program,” he says.

Eventually he chose to come to the University of Arizona. But after a while, he grew bored with the MBA curriculum and took a PhD class taught by Moshe Dror. Meanwhile, another professor, P.K. Kanaan, encouraged Konana to pursue his doctorate. So that’s exactly what he did.

“I got into getting a PhD accidentally, and I got into MIS accidentally,” says Konana.

Although his years at the University weren’t always a walk in the park, Konana is grateful for the supportive friends and faculty members who helped along the way. While in Tucson, his wife went through a difficult pregnancy and didn’t have insurance. One evening, she became dehydrated and had to go to the hospital. But Konana needed to complete a take-home exam for one of his classes. He messaged his professor, Lee Beach, and asked if he could send the exam the next day. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about the exam. Take care of your wife,’” noted Konana.

He credits various individuals—like Beach, Kanaan, Dave Pingry, Sudha Ram and others—with helping him make it through the program. “All these people are part of who I am today,” he says.

Through professors, Konana connected with Andrew Whinston, a professor at the UT-Austin McCombs School of Business. Konana began teaching there in 1995 and brought with him the strong grant culture he picked up at Eller. “I established myself very quickly as a solid researcher and teacher,” he says. In fact, he received 37 teaching awards during his 25 years at the university and was one of the fastest to get into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. “I had a great ride.”

In early 2021, he took the helm as dean of the University of Maryland’s business school, though he is still a professor emeritus at UT-Austin.

Moving forward, Konana will continue to pay it forward. In 2004, he helped establish a Pragathi, a nonprofit organization that teaches remedial reading and writing to primary school students in India. “That’s one of my passions,” he says. He continues to give back in other ways as well, including via donations to Eller. Konana established an endowment for scholarship at Eller in his mother's name and gave $500 in Lee Beach’s name as a way to thank him for all he did.

These actions support what he considers the purpose of life: doing something that impacts people.