bernie ferrari tinglong dai alex triantis


“Three marvels” shape a new named professorship in honor of a dean emeritus

Why it matters:

The first Bernard T. Ferrari Professorship in Business goes to a renowned expert on artificial intelligence and supply chain.

Between Baltimore snowstorms, respected and esteemed experts in their fields gathered high above the city’s Inner Harbor for two reasons: to honor Dean Emeritus Bernard T. Ferrari’s impact on the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and to celebrate the first Bernard T. Ferrari Professor of Business, Tinglong Dai.

The renowned expert in health care analytics and supply chains accepted his distinction with a reflection on three marvels: water, autonomy, and the combination of AI and medicine. Each, he said, was responsible for leading him to this professorship.

Flexibility, agility, and opportunity

Dai arrived for his interview at Carey in early March 2013, nursing a painful jaw condition and full of anxiety verging on panic, just weeks before his first child was due to arrive. Water was the first thing that made Dai feel like Carey would be his academic home. In it, Dai finds flexibility, agility, newness, and inspiration.

“As soon as I walked into this magnificent waterfront glass building and pushed the elevator button, I knew this was it,” Dai told the attendees. “How did I know? Well, my TMJ disorder just disappeared at that very moment. I thought, ‘Wow, Hopkins really does have healing power!’”

If water was Dai’s buoying force, autonomy was his propeller. Over the last decade, the freedom to pursue his own interests allowed Dai to advocate for supply chain policy changes, write about geopolitical issues, organize conferences, participate in seminars and recruitment for other disciplines, shadow Hopkins physicians, share insights with global media, and volunteer with INFORMS, the largest professional society of decision and data sciences in the world. This was all work others had told him not to do because it didn’t count toward tenure. But to Dai, the ability to do it all has shaped his career—and his tenure—for the better.

“I'm extraordinarily fortunate,” Dai said. “I've had remarkable autonomy at Hopkins that I can't imagine anywhere else in the world.”

Vision and vigilance

Dean Emeritus Ferrari was a significant part of the autonomy that led to Dai’s success. Ferrari, himself a surgeon, lawyer, and MBA, said Dai could help change medicine without being a medical doctor. But he never told Dai how to do it. 

This evening belonged to Ferrari as well. A number of supporters had contributed the funding to establish the Bernard T. Ferrari Professorship of Business as an homage to his seven years at Carey’s helm. 

One such supporter was Karen Peetz, the longtime chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council and a Johns Hopkins University Trustee, who sent a letter for Dean Alex Triantis to share. It read, in part, “As with so many historic human accomplishments, Carey Business School now stands on the back of Bernie’s hard work and invaluable leadership contributions to Hopkins during his time as dean.” 

From 2012 to 2019, Ferrari helped position Carey to capitalize on the strengths of Hopkins health and medicine. Carey’s enrollment increased four-fold, and five dozen professors arrived to its halls. Most of Ferrari’s remarks on this evening were in recognition and gratitude for the hard work he and others in the room had done to strengthen Carey into the formidable business school it is today. They were remarks that often brought the kind of laughter and warmth shared when people have seen each other through challenges.

“I’m extremely honored, humbled, and frankly, a bit overwhelmed by this event,” Ferrari told his former colleagues and friends.

Ferrari celebrated the path to repeat accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB, the outstanding tenured and clinical faculty of Carey’s present day, and the newly published listing as a Poets and Quants Ten Business Schools to Watch.

But, as Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels said, “It was Ferrari’s embrace of the role of data science and AI that proved his prescience.” Daniels pointed out that Ferrari had seen the power AI would have in patient care, population health, efficacy, and sustainability. And he highlighted the dangers of ethical pitfalls and inequities. 

“How fitting, then, that the Ferrari Professorship should be conferred upon Dr. Dai, a sought-after expert in human-AI interaction whose work on global supply chains and health care analytics is infused with a humanistic desire to serve others,” Daniels said, citing Dai’s empirical research on the shortages of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vastly positive impact of AI on clinical productivity and equitable care. 

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A path toward the future

It is this impact that Dai considers the third marvel of his career arc. Vice Dean for Faculty and Research Goker Aydin encouraged him to develop and teach an AI course that became a focal point in the Carey full-time MBA. Dai’s affiliation with the Hopkins Business of Health Initiative afforded him the chance to research AI in medicine. Becoming a sought-after media expert in AI and supply chain was what Dai called an “unexpected gift” from current Carey Dean Alex Triantis. He thanked nine others by name, including mentor and Stanford Professor Emeritus Hau Lee, a pioneer in supply chain scholarship who introduced Dai and who served on the dissertation committees for Carey Dean Triantis and Vice Dean Aydin. 

And then, as the lights of a historic city of faded industry reflected on a waterfront that steadied supply chain for decades, just a mile from the medical institution now poised to integrate AI, he concluded.

“It took an entire university to shape the Ferrari Professor of Business I am today. As I embark on this new chapter, I’m eager to contribute to the enduring legacy of Johns Hopkins and the dynamic, thriving culture of the Carey Business School.

“Thank you all for this incredible honor.” 


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