GRAND RAPIDS — Whoever becomes the next dean for Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business has a lot to build on.
The Seidman College moves into a new $40 million home next spring on the south end of the Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids and it enjoys strong ties and support within the West Michigan business community.
Both are attributes that GVSU Provost Gayle R. Davis believes will help the Seidman College attract a strong pool of candidates to succeed H. James Williams, who departs as dean early next year to become president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.
Add a high quality of life in West Michigan to the mix, and “I think we’ve got a beautiful package to sell,” Davis said.
GVSU will likely name a new interim dean in January prior to embarking on a search for a new leader for the Seidman College.
GVSU will initially seek an internal candidate to serve as interim dean, Davis said. She hopes to have that position filled by around mid-January with someone who will “hold the fort, so to speak, and keep us moving forward while we have this long process that academic deanships usually take in terms of a search.”
A national search for a permanent dean will follow and could take several months, Davis said. The search that led to Williams’ hiring in 2004 took about a year to complete from the time when the position became vacant, she said.
The next leader of the Seidman College must have the ability to carry on the business relationships that Williams helped to advance, Davis said.
“A new dean absolutely has to have a wonderful, emotionally intelligent, relationship-building kind of personality to come into this community of ours that is so active and interested in having real excellence in our educational system,” Davis said.
During his tenure at GVSU, the Seidman College of Business developed a full-time MBA program that includes fellowships and the opportunity for students to study abroad. The business school also began construction on the Seidman Center and formed the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Williams “has set a high standard of achievement in the dean’s role,” Davis said. “I’m looking for that kind magic again.”
Williams said he accepted the position at Fisk University with “mixed emotions.”
“I’ve had wonderful experiences here with talented colleagues, whom I will miss, but I know my time here has prepared me to be president of Fisk. I also know I am leaving the college in a strong position,” Williams said. “I feel confident that the leadership in the Seidman College of Business will continue to move forward with the strong initiatives we’ve started, and they’ll do it in a magnificent new facility that will open this spring. I feel good about that and grateful for the challenges of this new opportunity.”
The search for a new dean will probably include a standard review of the direction for the Seidman College of Business, Davis said. She’ll meet with faculty soon to hear their ideas on what they would like to see in the next dean.
“There’s always change in the air and there’s always things to forecast and to look out to see that we’re heading in the right direction,” Davis said. “People come in at different stages and we may need exactly the same kind of skill set that James brought to us, which were substantial, or we may have some focus areas we want someone to be able to address as they come in.”