COBE dean candidates visit RU

The search for the next dean of Radford University's College of Business and Economics (COBE) progressed to the next stage in late November and early December when the selection committee invited the top four candidates to campus to offer their ideas for positioning the college for the future.

A national search began in the summer, and more than 70 candidates emerged.

The search for a new COBE dean began following the departure of Faye Gilbert, who had served as the college's dean since 2008. Gilbert left RU in May to become dean of the College of Business at the University of Southern Mississippi.

On their campus visits, candidates Richard Kolbe, James Lumpkin, George Low and Denise Rotondo met with university administrators, COBE department chairs, faculty, staff and students. Each candidate delivered presentations titled "Positioning RU COBE for the Future."

The presentations began with Kolbe on Nov. 19. The current dean of the Northern Kentucky University Haile/US Bank College of Business said "COBE is doing numerous things well" and added there are things that the college could be doing that "are yet to be discovered." He explained that his role as dean would be to "examine and discover ways to do more to maximize COBE's value and make it more competitive in the marketplace."

Kolbe has served various roles at Kent State University, including associate dean for faculty. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy, a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Lumpkin spoke on campus Nov. 21, and said the goal for a business college is to "thrive." To do so, he said "you must distinguish yourself in some way or ways. You've got to have something that draws students to Radford, draw resources to Radford instead of other universities."

Lumpkin, who serves as dean and Chase Bank professor at the College of Business at Louisiana Tech University, talked of a number of ways for the college to thrive to reach its goals.  "There are many ways to do it," he said. "You just have to figure out what's best for your particular situation. Certainly, if you're not moving forward, you're going to be looking backward because your competition is going to be moving forward."

Lumpkin has held deans positions at Oklahoma State University and Bradley University and an associate dean position at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in business administration from the University of Arkansas, a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Low made his presentation Dec. 5, and focused on COBE's strengths, such as "outstanding faculty," an "impressive new building," university tradition, the college's ability to provide "value to students and families" and a "vibrant regional economy."

"Clearly you have many strengths in which to build a very bright future," said Low, the associate dean for Undergraduate Studies and International Programs at Texas Christian University. "You have an outstanding group of faculty here. They're dedicated to student success. You're clearly a student-focused institution and the faculty that you have fit that mission very well."

Low earned a Doctor in Business Administration at the University of Colorado-Boulder, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Arts at Brigham Young University.

Rotondo presented on campus Dec. 11 and addressed issues in business education such as growing competition, market saturation – particularly MBA programs – and brand program distinction. She also explained her vision for the COBE dean's role.

Rotondo, the dean of the School of Business at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., said the dean should have a "role in making sure students have a high-quality experience, not just in the classroom, but outside the classroom with all the curricular opportunities and all the professional development opportunities that you offer them. You need to make sure students are supported, that they can feel like they can get jobs."

Rotondo holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. In addition, she has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

With the presentations complete, the COBE dean search committee evaluated the candidates and made recommendations to the provost. No timetable has been set for the selection of the next COBE dean.

The curriculum vitae of each finalist are available at

Dec 19, 2013