College of Business begins search for new dean


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Four candidates are in review as the Marshall University Lewis College of Business searches for a new dean.

Former professor and member of the accounting department, Bob Simpson, delayed his own retirement to fill in temporarily as the college’s interim dean.

“Probably the most attention-getting thing is that Marshall is national in scope,” Simpson said.  “We do take it for granted. A brand name is great, but having something it stands for is really special.”

Each candidate was given approximately an hour in the Memorial Student Center’s Shawkey Room to share their backgrounds, experience and overall vision if chosen as dean. Students, faculty and staff were invited to attend each presentation.

James Payne has been dean of the Georgia College of Business since 2014. He was the first presentation Jan. 26. During the open forum, he said he wants to use an entrepreneurial mindset and support Marshall’s brand recognition and build something without sacrificing high standards.

“When I look at a college of business, the first thing that comes to mind is that you’re a knowledge-based resource,” Payne said. “Because the increase of globalization has taken place over the years and the ease of communication, communication barriers have broken down quite a bit.  Let’s go back 20 to 25 years and look at how they conducted business. It’s a lot faster, and by that people are getting information quicker. With the internet and so forth, the key is to be able to adapt and innovate.”

Payne said his strategy as dean would start by evaluating the college’s programs similar to evaluating markets in a competitive industry.

“I think it’s important to understand your programs, understand how they interface with the market and understand where the niche is to be sustainable financially,” Payne said. “If you step back and look at it and it’s financially losing money, why continue? Just let it go, and redirect resources somewhere else.”

William Locander is from Loyola University in New Orleans, and has experience with several universities as a professor, department chair and leading director of MBA practices. He said that experiential learning outside the classroom is an equally important part of student development.

“If you are interested in STEM, or medicine, or entertainment or whatever, there is a role for the business school to play,” Locander said. “Getting those kinds of experiences, those are job openers right off the bat. You get real credibility just as an artist would.”

During the forum on Jan. 31, Locander said students and future career-seekers should stay true to themselves and seek more than just a well-paying job.

“The more you can understand yourself, what really makes you tick, it shows that you’ve got character, and that you care about things more than ‘give me the job’ and ‘how do I get that next promotion,’” Locander said.

Dr. Avninandan Mukherjee has taught in as many as 16 countries and is currently the dean of Clayton State University’s College of Business in Atlanta, Georgia. He said his background as an international student has shown the importance of teamwork, community and active involvement as a dean.

“Outstanding faculty and staff will make a school great, and that of course will serve the students best,” Mukherjee said. “We need to understand that the job of the dean is really to support all of these activities on a daily basis and get us to the next level.”

At his forum on Feb. 1, Mukeherjee said the college should get on board with the shift in technology to increase involvement among the student body.

“[Students] expect that,” Mukherjee said. “It’s becoming more of that in terms of student support and all of that feeds into learning: social media, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, device integrations, smartphones.”

Presentations came to an end on Feb. 2 with Farhang Niroomand. Niroomand is dean of the University of Houston-Victoria’s College of Business. He said there are disruptive forces between what college professors and businesses consider to be important in education.

“People who get an education, especially in business, they want to know that they get a job,” Niroomand said. “They want to know that it means something the employer is interested in. Obviously, there is a gap between what the educators are providing and what the business and employers are interested in having. As far as business schools and the future of business education is concerned, we are at a crossroad.”

The dean search committee is scheduled to meet this week and appoint a new dean. Bob Simpson said no matter who is chosen, however, this seems to be one of many changes the college will face in the years to come.

“It’s been absolutely invigorating and a learning experience for me,” Simpson said.  The college is changing, principally because we are becoming more outward facing and involved in the community.”


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