How do you view your role as interim dean, and what are your goals for the next two years?
My main mission is to support the college and help it to grow and become more successful. This is a very exciting opportunity to do strategic planning and to set things up for the next dean.
We’re looking at MBA 2.0, which will shape the next phase of that program. We want to grow enrollment for our undergraduate programs. Increasing our exposure in metro areas is another priority. The College of Business and Economics should be better known in Richmond, as well as Northern Virginia and Tidewater.
I have a background in admissions, including serving as the admissions dean at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, so my mission is to work with Ferg and the other new deans to increase our visibility. The CBE can attract people to Longwood, even some who might not end up as economics or business majors.
We can also grow our connections to businesses in the region. If we have 20 alumni working at CarMax, then we should be sending students there for jobs and internships. I’m thinking about how we build that pipeline and make that outreach part of what CBE does as an engine for Longwood.
I have a background in admissions, including serving as the admissions dean at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, so my mission is to work with Ferg and the other new deans to increase our visibility. The CBE can attract people to Longwood, even some who might not end up as economics or business majors.Sara Neher, interim dean, college of business and economics Tweet This
Can you talk about the relationships you’ve built so far and why those connections are important?
I met one-on-one with each of the faculty and staff in the college last spring. Building those relationships before I became interim dean really helped me understand what’s important to people here.
This fall I’ve been working to get to know students. I’ve talked with them about ways to connect with different parts of campus. They’ve brought me ideas about double majors and coordinating with programs like computer science or communication studies. Our alumni board has great insight, and they will be helping with a curriculum review, which will help us make sure that we’re meeting company needs and employer needs.
It’s really been about trying to understand everyone so that I can support them in achieving their goals.
What makes Longwood well-positioned to send graduates out into the field of business during this time of financial uncertainty?
There’s definitely a need for people with accounting backgrounds and analytical and financial minds to help companies of all sizes cope with what’s coming. Longwood has historic strength in accounting, so I feel good about that.
During recessions and times of uncertainty, there is a need for people who want to work for nonprofits or in government—those are great jobs for economics majors. There’s a real shortage of workers in all state governments, including Virginia. Our students will be really well-positioned for that type of work. Thinking about government as an alternative is one thing we have in mind to balance out if there are fewer people hiring more traditional corporate jobs. Given that our students have a foundation in Civitae, they will be better-positioned to do the broader thinking that a government job requires. Civitae is a real advantage for Longwood in that it encourages critical thinking and creativity, and requires students to think about the impact on communities.