Dean of the Robert W. Plaster School of Business
Company/organization: Columbia College
Job description: Develop and implement a strategic vision and plan for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business.
Professional background: I spent five years in the sports business industry representing professional football and soccer players. I then moved into higher education where I’ve been teaching for 16 years and serving in administrative leadership roles for the past nine. In addition to higher education, I have coached high school football for seven of the past 10 years.
Hometown: Carbondale, Illinois
How long you have lived in Columbia: Two months
Favorite volunteer/community activity: Coaching high school football
Favorite recent project: I am meeting one-on-one with each of my team members in the Robert W. Plaster School of Business. I enjoy learning about their history, passion, and what they appreciate about Columbia College.
A Columbia business person you admire and why: While I’ve only been in town for seven weeks as of today, I’ve had the pleasure of being at several lunches and events with Dr. David Russell, president of Columbia College. His story of how he ended up in this role, his approach to leadership, and his ability to have authentic conversations with individuals across all walks of life are collectively inspiring.
Why you are passionate about your job: The people and the opportunity. I am blessed to have a great team of faculty and staff who have a passion for helping students and a passion for Columbia College. They make it exciting to serve them as a leader. The opportunity to then work with that team on a shared vision and strategic plan for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business is invigorating.
Why you are passionate about your company: The plan, the confidence, and the people: The strategic plan for Columbia College, particularly the commitment to diversity, is what led me to submit my application last December; I feel like I am trusted and that there is confidence in me by the leadership at Columbia College; and Every person I have met on campus — and I’ve met a lot of people over the past seven weeks — has been kind, attentive, and encouraging. If an organization has a plan you buy into, you feel valued and trusted by leadership, and fellow employees across all departments in that organization consistently show kindness and encouragement, it’s very difficult not to have a great passion for that organization and be excited to come to work every day.
If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would: Pursue a head football coach role at a high school where the team has struggled in the past and then attempt to “turn the program around” by changing the culture, working together to develop and execute a strategy that matches the culture, and move forward together.
What people should know about your profession: Higher education, in my opinion, is one of the most competitive industries in the world. The amount of choices that high school seniors, transfer students, and adult students have for institutions to pursue their associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees is unbelievable. Higher education institutions must have a compelling story that shows why they are different and valuable. You must ensure that your story is told to the right people using the right channels and that you meet potential students’ constantly evolving needs. This work never really stops.
The next challenge facing your industry: Artificial intelligence, particularly Chat GPT. Higher education institutions must figure out how it can be incorporated as a learning tool in classrooms while also ensuring that students are utilizing their own thoughts and research.
Your next professional goal: Complete a new vision and strategic plan for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business and begin implementing new initiatives.
Biggest lesson learned in business: Invest the time to develop a comprehensive business plan for new ideas.
How you want to impact the Columbia community: I want the Robert W. Plaster School of Business to be a destination for all students to study business and a resource to help local small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs grow and succeed.
Greatest strength: My ability to listen and connect with others.
Greatest weakness: I’ve been known to have a hard time saying “no”
to new projects.
What you do for fun: I enjoy spending time with my family and our pets.
Family: My wife, Dr. Jennifer Fruend, is a faculty member in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri starting on Aug. 1. We have two daughters, Adeline and Eloisa, who will be starting high school and fourth grade, respectively, in the fall.
Favorite place in Columbia: Shakespeare’s
Accomplishment you are most proud of: Marrying my lovely wife and having two phenomenal daughters.
Most people don’t know that you: are a fantastic beatboxer.