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Photograph by Jamie Betts

What attracted you to the business dean position at the University of Richmond?
It was an opportunity to make a broader and deeper impact. The Robins School is the perfect size and has the perfect ingredients to make a difference in the way we educate business students. We have a strong foundation in the liberal arts along with a solid, well-rounded business education. And because our classes are small, our students get personalized attention and unparalleled experiential learning opportunities.

What have you learned since you arrived to campus that you didn’t know before?
Our alumni are devoted, loyal, committed, and passionate. They’re always so excited to hear about what we are doing and to help in any way they can. Any person who has any contact with this university becomes so appreciative and loyal. There seems to be more of a deep connection.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing business schools nationally?
Our challenge is to graduate students who have the skills needed at a time when the business environment is in a state of flux. The most obvious of these are technical and analytical skills, but students also need to have an understanding of societal trends and environmental changes, and a deep appreciation for the fundamental human condition. Given our size and position within a world-class liberal arts university, we are well-positioned to provide the opportunities our students need to thrive. Our challenge is to take the great potential they bring and turn it into action.

How is business education at Richmond different from that of other universities?
We are similar in some ways to schools much bigger than us. For example, we offer a broad-based core curriculum that provides a solid foundation in all aspects of business, along with a plethora of experiential learning opportunities. However, because we have smaller classes, we are able to innovate and try new things. We also have a culture of continuous improvement. In addition, our faculty care deeply about our students.

What can we do even better to prepare our students for the future?
I hear a lot from alumni and employers that our students are well-rounded and go-getters. I want to make sure that we also are intentional in building the interpersonal and character skills required to lead with courage. It is important that our students know how to be inclusive, how to problem-solve in groups, and how to set a direction and align people behind that vision. I think our students have that, but I want to be sure we do this with intentionality.

How do you describe the Robins School when you find yourself chatting with a stranger in the airport?
We blend the best of a top business school grounded in a world-class liberal arts university to address societal issues and business issues. Our small size allows us to give personalized attention to our students and remain nimble in an ever-changing world. And we’re the Spiders.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in higher education?
In my next life, I joke and say I want to come back as Oprah. I like to ask questions. I like learning about other people, their life stories, their organizations, and how they see the world.