When I came to study for my doctorate at West Virginia University in the mid-2000s as a tall, lanky dark-haired kid with a knack for Pearl Jam (which persists), I never imagined I’d be here more than 15 years later – as the leader of the very college where I earned my stripes.
It’s quite a unique designation for me, seeing our College evolve as a student, faculty member and, now, dean.
For me, there hasn’t been a more thrilling time to be part of our College than it is right now.
I’d been a faculty member for a few years when, in 2017, Bob and Laura Reynolds announced their transformational gift of $10 million to build a new business school complex, Reynolds Hall.
But it was promised to be no ordinary complex.
The future days of business education will lean on innovation, cross-collaboration and outside-the-box approaches that will all flourish inside this modernized space designed to be a pillar of entrepreneurship and experiential learning to prepare our students to be the future of work.
In this issue of our College Magazine, we share with you stories on those learning labs, the Reynolds’ vision, and the faculty and alumni reaping the benefits of what our College has to offer. One of our feature articles shines light on the Peer Mentorship Program, which pairs seasoned students with freshmen as they transition to college life and core business courses.
I often reflect on my time as an economics student here. I worked hard and earned many accolades that included prestigious fellowships and awards for journal articles I’d published. But I simply cannot take all the credit myself.
I was 'given to fly' by the College’s invaluable resources and steadfast commitment to its students.
That dedication, not only to students, but to the state of West Virginia and the business community at-large has never wavered since.
When I returned as a faculty member in 2014, I was struck with how the College retained that focus yet simultaneously had grown in scope, research and stature.
That trajectory accelerated tremendously under Javier Reyes’ leadership. His energy and forward-facing guidance nimbly steered the ship toward uncharted frontiers.
Then in June 2020, Dean Reyes accepted a position as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
I – the kid from Cleveland Heights, Ohio who came here to study economics more than a dozen years earlier – was tapped to replace Reyes to captain the ship and continue the momentum of the College.
It’s an undertaking and honor that I do not take for granted. While I first came to WVU to teach and research, the opportunities to be a department chair, associate dean and, now, dean has pushed me out of my comfort zone. But, as we all should recognize, new challenges not only help us grow as individuals, but they lend a hand in lifting up others around us.
That’s how we’re approaching business education for the future. There are no quick escapes or staring lingeringly in the rearview mirror.
Moving ahead is taking a page from the Bob Reynolds playbook: In our main feature story, he told us, “I don’t get bogged down in what happened yesterday. Yesterday is history that I can’t control. But I can have a big impact on what happens today. Tomorrow is what you dream about.”
A reimagined College, sticking true to its core values, gracing the picturesque Morgantown waterfront and serving as a portal to the next generations of business leaders is what we’re dreaming about.
And I can’t wait to steer the ship into tomorrow to turn those dreams into reality.
- Joshua Hall, Ph.D.
Milan Puskar Dean