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Please join the College of Business faculty and staff at an open house reception honoring Tom as he moves on to new ventures.

Thursday, May 13
UW-Eau Claire Davies Center
Tamarack Room
3:30-6:30 pm
Brief program at 4:15 pm

Light hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Cash bar.

May 10, 2010

18 Years Later: V. Thomas Dock, 1992-2010

By Gretchen Hutterli, assistant dean, College of Business

Tom DockOne of Tom Dock’s former colleagues once likened him to that juggler on the Ed Sullivan television show who used to balance a stack of spinning plates on long poles he held in his hands. The juggler’s performance was exciting...and a bit scary. You were always waiting for the plates to come crashing down on him, but somehow the juggler managed to keep it all going. Over the years, I have often thought about this description and how accurately it described Tom Dock.

Tom was indeed the change agent he said he would be when I interviewed him for the dean’s job eighteen years ago. (See the article below about Tom writen in 1993) He liked to say that we were always “building a boat and sailing it at the same time”. And we did. It has been quite a voyage.  

Always the entrepreneur, Tom was always excited about some new idea or opportunity. Never content with the status quo, he encouraged his faculty and staff to continually examine and improve our curriculum, delivery systems, and policies and procedures, which resulted in the our college leading the way on many fronts, such as our online MBA Foundation courses which paved the way for the Consortium MBA and our undergraduate online courses. Not all of Tom’s ideas worked out and we abandoned a few projects along the way. A couple of his ideas, like the COB laptop requirement, just took longer to implement. But Tom was patient and persistent. I am reminded of the email we received from emeritus faculty member Jim La Barre when the requirement was finally implemented.  It read, “Hey gang, congratulations on finally getting something to happen with the laptops. It has only taken 10 years.” 

Tom was also very persuasive. Ask any faculty or staff member who took Tom up on his offer for coffee or lunch. Inevitably, they ended up working on some new idea Tom had, or volunteering to do a project for one of his pet not-for-profits, like the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement or United Way. Tom was a good sales person who always seemed to end up with what he wanted.

Tom had a heart of gold and was very loyal. He would do anything to help a student, faculty and staff member, or friend. He especially enjoyed students and his door was always open to them.  Graduation was his favorite time of year and he loved to shake students’ hands and hood graduate students during commencement. For him, commencement represented the culmination of everything good the College of Business stood for.

Tom Dock is retiring from UW-Eau Claire to begin a new career as the dean of the College of Business Administration at Texas A & M in Kingsville. Look out Kingsville, a hurricane is coming your way! It has been a great 18 years. Best wishes always from the College of Business students, faculty and staff.

» View V. Thomas Dock's biography
» View V. Thomas Dock's career highlights
» Give a gift to the College of Business in Tom Dock's honor

Welcome to Our New Dean: V. Thomas Dock, 1993

By Kathy Klingenberg, Department of Business Administration

V. Thomas Dock believed in entrepreneurship and many of the things it represents—honesty, integrity, hard work. That is why, at the age of four, Tom could be found in the back stairwell of his dad’s SuperValu grocery store in Duluth, stacking potatoes in brown-handled paper containers. Potatoes came in 100 pound sacks then, and it was Tom’s job to scoop them into the five and ten pound paper bags. He also sacked oranges and sometimes worked at the front of the store carrying out the groceries. But the produce department was his favorite area to work in.

Tom worked in every position in the store, along with his three younger brothers and sister. He admits that the store was “where I really got my appetite for the business world, for entrepreneurship, for being my own boss.” He learned the art of dealing with people—the 20 store employees and the many customers. His father allowed him to make decisions and take the consequences for them—he gave Tom authority along with responsibility—something Tom sees often lacking in today’s business world. “Too many people today have a great deal of responsibility, but the commensurate authority is not there.”  

Today, as dean of the School of Business, Tom has learned well about responsibility, authority, and customer relations. And his job experiences since sacking potatoes in Duluth have been many and varied along a wide spectrum of activities. He is usually seen as a blur—as he rushes here and there, attending to business. He has a likeable personality, a quick wit and can converse with folks from all walks of life. His SuperValu days have provided a great foundation.

Dock thinks one of the most important traits that an entrepreneur must possess is the ability to recognize opportunity and grab it—not spending days contemplating decisions. He describes the effective entrepreneur as a leader, as self-starter, systematic thinker, calculated risk taker and a good communicator. “One must be aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and act accordingly.  There isn’t any one skill or aptitude that makes or breaks an entrepreneur. What an entrepreneur needs is a whole set of them.” The newly proposed entrepreneur program, a track within the management major, will prepare students to be successful business people by developing these vital aptitudes and skills.

As Dock enters his second year as dean of the School of Business, he thinks of himself as a “change agent.” And things are indeed changing in the school, not “change for the sake of change, but change for the right reasons.” Dock firmly believes that schools of business must be adaptable to the increasingly ever changing business world. And he’s had enough experience in the many aspects of the business world to keep UW-Eau Claire on track. At Texas Tech University, Tom taught undergraduate classes and was the associate dean of research. He went on to be associate dean at the University of Southern California for nine years. He’s owned his own business in Hawaii—a grocery store, of course, a land tour company, a postage stamp business, and a commercial real estate business. He’s worked in the corporate world for a $200 million company called Coalinga Corporation. He talks about Coalinga as a satisfying experience because he had a position with authority as vice president of financial administration and information systems. While at Coalinga, Tom oversaw the development, installation, and implementation of two linked local area networks that facilitated the transfer of most financial and nonfinancial information among the company’s offices located in California, Louisiana, and Texas. He also was responsible for the $200,000,000 privately-owned investments of the corporation owner.

With all this experience behind him, Dock understands completely the challenges facing faculty members, university administers, business owners, and corporate executives. Tom has “been there.”  But now, he’s here, at the helm of the School of Business, and in a sense, back in the produce department. He’s producing some of the best graduates, leaders and entrepreneurs the business community will ever see.

Source: Viewpoint, School of Business, UW-Eau Claire, Vol.1, No.1, Fall 1993

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.