Search for business dean draws to a close

Candidates took turns visiting MU’s campus for forums with administrators, faculty, staff and students over a two-week period.

Following this week’s interviews with the final four candidates, the new dean of the Trulaske College of Business will be announced sometime within the next month and begin serving on Jan. 1, 2017.

Two weeks of forums were held as candidates took turns visiting MU’s campus. Provost Garnett Stokes and the dean search committee wrapped up their efforts after submitting their feedback Friday, Sept. 2.

The remaining candidates for dean of the business school are Brian Klaas from the University of South Carolina, Vernon Richardson from the University of Arkansas, Ajay Vinze from Arizona State University and Maria Cronley from Miami University in Ohio. All four candidates have backgrounds in business and academia, in addition to dozens of published works, collectively.

Stokes began planning the search for a new business dean in July 2015 when then-Dean Joan Gabel left the position to serve as executive vice president of academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina. Stokes appointed Stephen Ferris to be interim dean until the hiring of an official dean was completed, a process that has lasted more than a year.

Neil Olson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, was selected to head the 17-member search committee that was officially formed in early 2016. Stokes, who chose the committee members based on nominations, said the selection took longer than normal due to a variety of factors, including the need for a diverse committee.

“It was just a balancing act of these various dimensions on which I needed to create a representative search committee,” Stokes said. “I was looking for diversity and was happy to see that I was able to achieve it at some level.”

Olson said they had a “very strong pool” of applicants for dean, and the committee narrowed the pool down to four people after they held “airport interviews” over a two-day period in July.

All potential candidates flew into St. Louis individually, travelled to an interview location close to the airport to meet the search committee, then went back to the airport for their flights home. The candidates never encountered one another, which kept their identities secret from those outside the search committee.

Throughout the search, Stokes and the search committee were assisted by Isaacson, Miller, a large search firm with approximately 180 employees. This firm is also helping conduct the search for UM System president, a position that has been filled by interim President Mike Middleton since former President Tim Wolfe resigned in November.

For the business school dean search, Isaacson, Miller has kept track of applicants, nominations, background checks, references and interviews. They also kept in contact with those searching for new employment opportunities and encouraged them to apply for positions, including the open dean position at the business school.

“They are involved at really every stage of the process,” Stokes said. “My experience working with firms and what I look for in a firm is the extent to which they can really help us recruit the best candidates for a position.”

She said she hopes she will be able to make a final decision within a week of receiving the feedback from the search committee, others on campus and in the college, though it will take longer before an announcement is made due to the time it takes to complete negotiations with the selected candidate.

“I’m excited about this dean search,” Stokes said before the second week of forums. “I’m excited to meet all the candidates, and I look forward to getting the feedback from everyone on campus about those candidates because I want to be sure I make the best choice for Mizzou and for the Trulaske College of Business.”

Edited by Claire Mitzel |

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