BI Norwegian Business School

Former presidents

BI's former presidents are listed below.

2006 - 2014: Tom Colbjørnsen
Made BI a specialised university institution

Tom Colbjørnsen was a former professor of Organisation and Management at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. He has a Master in Business and Economics and took the Dr. Philos degree in 1984 on the subject of inequality in the labour market.

Colbjørnsen has many years’ experience as a researcher, lecturer and corporate advisor, and has also led and participated in several committees appointed by the government, including the so-called "Committee on Working Life" which helped lay the foundation for the newly completed revision of the Working Environment Act. He also participated in the government-appointed Equal Pay Commission.

2005 (August - December): Ole Stenvinkel Nilsson
Opened BI’s most impressive building yet

Ole Stenvinkel Nilsson from the busines school of Copenhagen was elected new president, but resigned from the position shortly after due to a decease. Provost Inge Jan Henjesand was acting President until Colbjørnsen was elected.


1997 - 2005: Torger Reve
A bilingual future

Torger Reve became president of BI in 1997. He has a PhD from Northwestern University in the US and was formerly managing director of SNF (the Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration). He has also worked as a professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. Under the direction of Reve, BI has strengthened its education and research activities even further. This is reflected not least by the fact that BI was internationally accredited in 1999, when the school was awarded the European quality approval EQUIS. Reve introduced the term “bilingualism” at BI. He uses this to mean striving for a high level of quality in both research and practical teaching, and about speaking the language of academia as well as the language of business. For the first time, Reve includes in the strategy the goal of BI becoming Norway’s first private university.


1993 - 97: Leif Frode Onarheim
Structuring and consolidation

In 1993, Leif Frode Onarheim became president of BI. Onarheim, with his background from the Nora group and as Vice President of NHO (the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise) represented BI’s contact with the business world. Onarheim brought BI into a time of consolidation characterised by structuring and systematisation. He strengthened BI’s contact with the business world, and at the same time built up BI’s recognition in political circles. Onarheim later became the president of NHO and is currently a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party (Norway).


1989 - 93: Peter Lorange
An international strategist

In 1989, Peter Lorange arrived at BI as president. Lorange had a PhD from Harvard Business School and had worked at several American and European business schools. He especially emphasised the importance of internationalising BI, and making the establishment one of Europe’s leading business schools. Lorange, too, represented an expansive strategy. During his time as president, BI’s position within the education system was further strengthened. It was during this time that several agreements with both private companies and public management institutions were formalised.


1981 - 89: Jørgen Randers
Expansion and academisation

In 1981, Jørgen Randers was elected president of BI. At 36 years old, Randers already had a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and varied professional experience from Norwegian and foreign research environments. During Randers’ time as president, BI experienced an expansion without equal. Academisation and efficiency improvement went hand in hand. The work of developing BI into a specialised university institution was prioritised as BI’s most important task during the period. Randers pursued an offensive and expansive strategy and was the president who academised BI. It was during this period that BI established a network of regional university colleges. It was also during Randers’ time as president that BI took on its first three professors.


1975 - 81: Gerson Komissar
Social legitimacy

In 1975, Gerson Komissar was employed as president of BI. Komissar had been associated with BI since 1946, and had known Øien since his university days, when Øien was working as a maths teacher at Handelsgymnaset i Trondheim (Trondheim Commercial College). Komissar’s time as president was a time of new visions being launched, developed and put into action. Comprehensive organisational changes were carried out during this time. One of the changes was the introduction of elections for the school president. In 1977, Komissar himself became BI’s first elected president. Gerson Komissar laid the foundations for the further development of BI. He developed the entrepreneuring enterprise BI into an establishment with social legitimacy. He introduced social science subjects and expanded the school’s cooperation with public authorities.


1943 - 75: Finn Øien 

In 1943, Finn Øien founded Bedriftsøkonomisk Institutt (the Institute of Business Management). Øien, who was a physicist with a degree from the University of Oslo, was enthusiastic about business management and had visions of how this subject could be used in business and industry. BI’s first course in the autumn of 1943 ran for three months with two hours’ teaching one evening a week. In 1946, BI launched its first daytime university college level course. In 1959, teaching outside Oslo was started for the first time. Through 32 years, Øien led what started out as a one-man business, but which in 1969 had become an educational establishment worthy of government support.