After serving as dean of the University of Richmond's E. Claiborne Robins School of Business for nine years, Nancy Bagranoff plans to spend her next year taking a different trip each month.
In July, she will be traveling to England. In September, she’s headed to Martha’s Vineyard. October will be Italy, February is Scottsdale and in January, Bagranoff is headed to Australia, she said.
Despite stepping down from her position as dean, Bagranoff will be returning to UR in the fall 2020 semester as an accounting professor after going on sabbatical, she said.
“When I became a dean my mom said to me, ‘Why are you doing that? You love to teach,’” Bagranoff said.
Over the past nine years, Bagranoff started numerous initiatives in the business school. One of her focuses was increasing the number of faculty members because she thought the class sizes were too big, she said.
“The hiring is probably the most impactful thing because those people are here every day in the classroom,” she said.
Throughout her time as dean, Bagranoff also worked to improve the lives of students.
“My focus is on students,” she said. “That is what I care about. … I think I’ve worked hard to make sure we do more for them.”
Laura Thompson, assistant dean of undergraduate student services at the business school, echoed that statement.
Often a dean is pulled to do more administrative work, but Bagranoff has kept the focus on students, Thompson said.
Bagranoff will meet with students who contact her, and students, faculty members and staff members feel as though Bagranoff is accessible, Thompson said.
“She values relationships, understands people well and likes to help people understand that they’re heard -- they’re valued,” Thompson said. “All of those good traits that make a leader feel like a very human leader.”
Randy Raggio, associate dean of the Richmond MBA and executive education programs, said Bagranoff had been one of the most student-focused deans he had worked with.
Raggio worked closely with Bagranoff when they were evaluating whether to update the undergraduate curriculum in the 2015-2016 academic year, he said.
"Always, she would just come back to ‘What’s the impact on the students? Is this something that we need to do?’” he said. “It’s very impressive that she would maintain that focus even when issues were very complex and very tricky.”
Because the focus of the university is on the undergraduates, there are often conversations about the necessity and importance of UR's MBA program, Raggio said. Bagranoff has been a large supporter and advocate for the graduate business programs, he said.
Frequently, Bagranoff attends and speaks about the importance of the MBA program at information sessions for prospective graduate students, Raggio said.
“Having a dean who really understands and supports graduate programs is essential--not just for my job, but for the students that are in the program," he said. "She enables us to do the things that make it a great MBA program.”
Bagranoff makes sure that everyone from the president to the provost to the board of trustees understands the importance of the graduate business program, Raggio said.
During Bagranoff’s time as dean, she started the Student Advisory Council, she said. The council, which consists of the presidents of organizations and clubs at the business school, meets with Bagranoff monthly, Bagranoff said.
“Having that dialogue with the students has been really helpful so that I know where they’re coming from and what their needs are and what their perceptions are,” she said.
Senior Cole Hurford, outgoing president of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business Student Government Association (BSGA), has been on the Student Advisory Council for two years, he said.
“Dean Bagranoff is the company and we’re the customers trying to figure out how to best improve processes or anything within the business school,” he said about the purpose and structure of the council.
Hurford said he has worked with Bagranoff frequently as president of RSBSGA and that she had been fantastic to work with.
In addition to the Student Advisory Council, Bagranoff began the Executives in Residence program, C-Suite Conversations, Robins Executive Speaker Series, entrepreneurship trip and more in an attempt to better serve the students, especially through career services, Bagranoff said.
Another of her focuses was connecting the business school more with the city of Richmond, she said.
In order to do this, Bagranoff invited community members to the Speaker Series, allowed people from local businesses onto the Executive Advisory Council and chaired the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, she stated.
Thompson spoke highly of Bagranoff’s work with the city of Richmond. Bagranoff strengthened relationships with alumni, businesses and friends of the university, Thompson said.
Thompson was sentimental about Bagranoff deciding to step down but she recognized the importance of change, Thompson said.
“For me, Dean Bagranoff has absolutely been a mentor, and I know some days I’m her cheerleader,” Thompson said.
Bagranoff said she was looking forward to coming back and teaching at UR, and that she hoped to continue conducting research, teaching and traveling in the future.
Contact news writer Victoria Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.