Where were you before you joined Ball State University?
My entire life has been spent in colleges and universities. I came as a graduate student from India to do my master’s at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. I did my PhD at Georgia State and then started my academic career as an assistant professor at the College of New Jersey.
I went through the normal hoops of the academic career: assistant, associate, full professor, and then department chair for four years. Then I received an American Council on Education Fellowship to spend a year with the president of George Mason University, located outside of Washington, DC. I shadowed the president and senior leadership at George Mason, which provided an intimate opportunity to learn more about higher education administration. When I completed that, I became dean of the College of Business at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where I spent four years.
I started in June 2009 as the dean of the Miller College of Business at Ball State. Here, I am an administrator, but I continue to research and write. I feel scholarship is the “currency” of academia. We are known, honored, and recognized for our scholarship, which doesn’t mean that teaching isn’t important. But it’s the life of the mind; so the better scholars we are, the better teachers we are.
What attracted you to this position and to Ball State?
I’m very impressed with the leadership here. I had read about President Jo Ann Gora’s leadership. She has a hands-on, clear-headed, strategically minded approach that I appreciate. It’s good to have a strong and decisive leader.
Ball State has a very good reputation, strong programs, and is a well-established university. I’d been at Northern Michigan for four years, and I was looking for a new challenge at a bigger university. Ball State offered that opportunity.
What do you identify as particular, or even unique, strengths of the Miller College of Business?
The Miller College of Business has strong programs with a good reputation, and enrollment is going up. Our entrepreneurship program is ranked among the top 10 in the country. We have solid programs and good resources.
Another strong feature is our 32,000 alumni. They are our advocates, our ambassadors, our cheerleaders. They speak well of the high-quality education they received. To me, that’s an asset; you have 32,000 supporters who want to engage with the college and promote the college. They also want to hire our graduates. That’s a big plus.
How do you see the assets of Miller College of Business playing a major role in the life of the university, the community, the state, and beyond?
As you may imagine, the business college, by its nature, is very connected to the world of work. We are preparing accountants and managers and sales professionals who will go out and work in corporations or set up their own businesses.
We have an ongoing, interactive, close relationship with the business community. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We look to the business world for insights and perspectives that inform our curriculum design and innovations, and they look to us for bright, talented graduates. We offer many internships and immersive learning opportunities to the students that the business world provides.
In Muncie, we are a big player with the community and hospital. Because of our alumni all over the country and abroad, our footprint is much bigger than just in Muncie. For instance, I participate in a deans’ advisory council that has senior business executives from all over the country. We have a class going to Brazil and Argentina next semester for a two-week field study course. In addition, we have about 30 alumni in Brazil and Argentina whom we’ll contact and engage with while we are there.
Our reach is long, and it’s a positive extension. Our aspirations are very high. We are not content to be only an east central Indiana player; however, we appreciate our roots here and contacts. For instance, our students have done an immersive learning project with Vera Bradley, located in Fort Wayne. Some of our students helped Vera Bradley open new stores, and now some of those students are opening their own stores. People around the country now know that Ball State is a place to look for entrepreneurship.
How do you see your college contributing to the public good?
The public has an absolute right to know how a publicly funded institution is using its money. We have to be able to explain and be seen as good custodians of the public’s money, that the money is being well spent, and that the expenditures benefit society.
I think the most telling example of the money being properly used is the quality of our graduates. The success of our alumni is evidence that Ball State is providing a high-quality education. The quality of our alumni’s work and their ability to rise in a company and the conviction to be ethical and entrepreneurial are examples. Graduates we can be proud of can be the answer to showing the public how its taxes contribute to the public good. Our graduates are changing and shaping society for the better.
What are your personal goals for the impact your college can make in business education?
I certainly expect to hold myself as a role model in many ways. When I tell my professors they should engage in scholarship, I demonstrate that in my own record of scholarship. I strive to be an ethical administrator. I know I won’t be able to please everyone, but that’s not the most important part of the job. I should be seen as being fair, and I should be making decisions ethically. That should come across.
A big part of my job and challenge, and something I really enjoy, is to push my faculty and staff to think “out of the (Ball) jar,” to go to the edge, to believe in themselves. There is always a need to curb the tendency to sit back and relax.
My task, I feel, is to push our faculty, staff, and students to believe they have the confidence to compete, to be in the very top ranks of whatever they want to be. Professors should feel they can publish in the best journals or teach in the most creative ways.
To help students, staff and faculty recognize their own potential is a task I have given myself. I try to do this by being an example, through being a role model, through inspiring talks, by providing resources. That’s how I hope to make a difference.