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Success Starts Here: Running the COB

| Gretchen Hutterli

"Success Starts Here" is a series of seven articles that introduce new students to the UW-Eau Claire College of Business. A new article will be posted each week until the fall academic term begins.

Did you know that the College of Business functions like a small business? Think about it — we develop strategy, establish goals and objectives, manage budgets and people, and interact with external constituents like advisory boards and employers. The chief executive officer of our “business” is the dean — Dr. Tim Vaughan — who was recently appointed to this position. Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Interim Dean Vaughan to learn about his plans for running the college this coming year.

Congratulations, on your new position, Dean Vaughan. You have held multiple leadership roles in the college since you came to UW-Eau Claire, but this is your first deanship. Did you always aspire to be a dean? 

TV: It was always on my radar, but I had no immediate plans to seek such a position prior to Dean Hoadley announcing her retirement in May. Taking on the interim dean role seemed as much a responsibility as well as an opportunity. But I am excited to undertake this new position.

Previously you were our associate dean. How have your responsibilities changed?

TV: I guess that is one of the things I will find out this year. As the associate dean, I primarily focused on the internal operations of the college. My responsibilities have expanded to include an external role beyond the college with regard to community and industry relationships. Even in my first few weeks as interim dean I have spent a lot more time on the road, visiting with employers and other community members.

As the CEO of the College of Business, you are responsible for charting the course for college. What is your vision for the college?

TV: Since my position is only for one year, my job is primarily to stay on course, rather than to chart a new course for the college.  We have AACSB accreditation coming up in Fall 2017, and much of the preparation for that has to happen this year. As the former associate dean, I am very familiar with the accreditation process which basically walks us through a number of activities and goals that should be met by a high-quality College of Business. Our job this year is to continue those efforts, and document the impact we are making.

Longer term, I would like the see the college strengthen its external relationships and expand its role with the regional business community. We do pretty well in this area but there is always room for improvement, and I really believe that is the long term key to success for our college.

The College of Business’s mission statement is, “We prepare students for success.” What does that mean to you now that you are dean?

TV: It means a couple of things. First and foremost, it means that the college is managed in all aspects for the long-term benefit of the students. This applies to curriculum design, budgeting decisions, faculty hiring decisions, retention and reward systems, and so on. Second, and this is really a subset of my first point, it means that our faculty and staff need to be current within their disciplines so they can bring that knowledge to the classroom in a manner that translates into student success. As the dean, my job is to help ensure that the college has the best, most dedicated faculty and staff, and that they have the resources they need to do their job well.

In addition to a mission statement, the college has a strategic plan which includes goals for its various units. One set of goals are the college’s learning goals. Tell us more about them.

TV: We have four college-wide learning goals that we feel every student graduating in business should meet.  The first one focuses on a solid understanding of all aspects of business. An effective business leader must be able to understand the organization and business problems from a broad perspective, not just the perspective of his or her major. This is why we have the Business Core curriculum, BUSCORE for short, the common core of business courses all our students take. It provides students with the breadth of information they need for their first job as well as throughout their entire business career.

The college’s remaining learning goals focus on communication, teamwork, and problem solving — three interpersonal skills employers consistently tell us that every employee needs in today’s business world. Because “practice makes perfect,” our goal is to expose every student to these concepts multiple times throughout their college career.

The new school year is approaching. What projects or activities are planned for this coming year?

TV: The College of Business is celebrating its 50th anniversary on September 30th so we are looking forward to seeing many students, faculty and staff, alumni and other friends at that special event.

We also will be spending a considerable amount of time this year preparing for our Fall 2017 AACSB reaffirmation review visit. The college is coming out of some challenging times in terms of budgets and staffing, but I think we are on track for a successful accreditation review. Other than that, our primary goal is to continue providing an excellent business education, and producing graduates ready to launch successful careers.

And with 96% of our recent graduates reporting that they are employed or continuing their education, the College of Business does an excellent job preparing students for successful careers. Thank you for sharing your plans for the coming academic year, Dean Vaughan. We look forward to a great year.