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Thursday, September 24, 2020

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BusinessWeek ranks Robins School 15th in nation

Interim Dean Robert M. Schmidt, taking a break after a meeting.
Interim Dean Robert M. Schmidt, taking a break after a meeting.

BusinessWeek ranked the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at No. 15 among American undergraduate business programs.

The school has maintained a position inside the Top-25 undergraduate rankings since BusinessWeek began publishing the list in 2006.

The rankings came as school officials continue the search process for a new dean. The candidates have been narrowed down to three finalists: Urton Anderson, chair of the accounting department and former associate dean for undergraduate programs at the University of Texas at Austin; Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the college of business and public administration at Old Dominion University and current president of the American Accounting Association; and John Sawyer, associate provost for professional education and former department of business administration chairman at the University of Delaware.

Interim Dean Robert Schmidt has occupied the position since July 2009, after the former dean, Jorge Haddock, stepped down. During 2009, BusinessWeek ranked the business school No. 12 in the country.

This year's ranking includes a third-place ranking for academic quality and ninth-place ranking as an MBA feeder school. The school also received grades of A-plus for both teaching quality and facilities.

"I'm very happy with the ranking," Schmidt said. "BusinessWeek has been doing this for five years and we have been in it every year."

Schmidt said the rankings were based on responses from surveys given to current seniors about what they thought of their educational experience.

"We try to keep quality up," Schmidt said. "We only put great teachers in the classrooms. Our students come first."

Business students work very closely with the faculty, Schmidt said.

"That's why we fare well — students recognize what they're getting," he said.

The facilities ranking was a little surprising, he said. Classrooms and computer laboratories are in decent shape, but will be improved when the Queally Hall addition is completed.

The school received a grade of a B in job placement. To determine this grade, a survey is given to employers throughout the country. Richmond faces challenges in this category because of the relatively small school size and number of graduates, Schmidt said.

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"We are inherently disadvantaged by our size and the way it is measured," he said.

This was the first full year the business school had a director of career programs, and Schmidt said this would help the school's visibility. Also, if the school does not have a former student working at a particular business, it will make a great effort to get someone placed there who will work hard and represent the school well, so the business will hire more of its graduates, he said.

"It just takes time," Schmidt said.

The school's rankings have helped in the search for a new dean, said Steve Allred, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"When you are ranked in the Top 20 nationally, it makes it a lot easier to recruit great candidates for a deanship," he wrote in an e-mail. "The faculty and staff at the Robins School of Business are extraordinarily talented and completely dedicated to educating students. It's nice that others recognize how good we are."

Economics chairman Dean Croushore and Allred agreed to serve as co-chairs of a search committee and establish a committee of faculty, staff, trustees, students and administrative representatives, Allred said. After working with the search firm of Isaacson, Miller, the search committee conducted interviews and then reached a consensus on three finalists to bring to campus. These three finalists will visit campus during late March and early April to meet with faculty, staff and students.

"All three candidates are full professors with excellent teaching, research and service records, and all have significant administrative experience," Allred said. "More importantly, all three understand the focus of the Robins School of Business as an integrated partner in undergraduate education."

The new dean may be chosen by July 1, Allred said. The candidates will meet with a variety of groups and will participate in open forums. Allred has asked everyone who participates in the interviews or who interacts with the candidates to send him comments.

He and Croushore will then meet with the search committee, and based on the committee's evaluation, Allred will make a recommendation to the president. If negotiations with the candidate are successful, the president will then present his recommendation to the board of trustees for final approval.

Allred asked Schmidt to serve as interim dean in 2009.

"He has done an outstanding job as interim dean, drawing on his years of experience at the Robins School of Business and his deep knowledge of the University of Richmond," Allred said.

Schmidt is scheduled for sabbatical during the fall to do research and then will return to teaching at Richmond. His research is on the relationship between population change and the economy and also the economics of disability, specifically vocational rehabilitation.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how teaching and research go without this service commitment," he said.

Contact staff writer Ashley Graham at ashley.graham@richmond.edu.

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