In academics, as in business, leadership is important. Students in the College of Business Administration know this — they are required to participate in the Leadership Education and Development program, colloquially known as LEAD. No other Marquette college has an equivalent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much the college values leadership, they’re currently without any.
The business college has been in the process of looking for a new dean since the former dean, Linda Salchenberger, stepped down in July 2012. It has only been a few months since the college started the search and named Mark Eppli as interim dean. But, now with the resignation of University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz, as well as the open spot for provost, the search could take much longer than expected to fill the deanship permanently.
Joseph Daniels, co-chair of the dean search committee and chair of the economics department, said the president and provost searches will take precedence over the dean search. The committee said earlier this year that the college hopes to have a dean by spring 2014, but that date looks far less likely with the lack of certainty in the top spots.
Daniels pointed out that it would be difficult to hire a dean if he or she were unaware who the provost would be, just as it would be challenging to hire a provost without knowing which president he or she would be working directly under.
The last deanship position filled — that of the College of Arts & Sciences — sat vacant for five years. Two entire classes of Marquette students attended the university with no permanent dean of Arts & Sciences, in part attributable to a change in the presidency, a situation that is repeating itself again. While a hasty decision cannot be made, there are too many problems within the College of Business Administration for the dean position to remain “interim” for the long-term.
One such problem that may arise is the hiring of the nine new professors sorely needed for the next academic year. While professors can be hired without a permanent dean, candidates may be understandably weary about taking a job without knowing who will be leading the college in the future.
The college needs to address some of its other issues, most notably advising. In a 2011 Marquette University Student Government survey, 30 percent of business students were dissatisfied with advising, only education students responded with less satisfaction.
Another problem that the college could potentially face with a long-term vacancy is financial. One of a dean’s responsibilities includes being the face of the college, especially to potential donors. An interim dean may not be as effective at fundraising for the college.
During the College of Business Administration’s last reaccreditation two years ago, the Associated to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business identified the college’s physical space as a challenge. Updating the facilities would require a big donation, which usually goes between a donor and permanent dean or permanent president and donor.
The longer this position is vacant, the more problems will arise from a lack of permanent oversight down the road. Yet, it looks like it will be vacant for the foreseeable future. Whether the candidate is a faculty member or person outside of Marquette, they need to be the right person for the job.
The new dean needs to be a strong advocate for the college. The dean needs to fundraise, advocate for the college’s needs and represent its students. Hopefully, the university finds the right fit to fulfill all the college’s needs, but the lack of certainty in key leadership positions adds scrutiny to the search.
Filling the deanship in the College of Business Administration is going to be a tightrope affair — the decision needs to be made as quickly as possible but as slowly as necessary to assure the college has the best possible leadership.