When classes change and a torrent of students pour into the atrium of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, Miguel “Mickey” Quinones can be found standing outside his office, smiling and greeting students as they pass.
But soon after Quinones began his tenure as the business school's dean in the fall of 2019, the hundreds of students who usually pass through the halls were gone, and the quiet hum of ceiling fans filled the empty space. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for students and faculty alike, and for Quinones, it was a hurdle during his first academic year as dean of the business school, he said.
The new promotion separated Quinones from his family, leaving his wife, Karin, and son, Antonio, in Dallas. He frequented and saw them as much as he could and is grateful to spend time with his wife, he said.
“I came because I thought this opportunity was such a good fit and so important that I actually [left my family who] was still in Dallas,” Quinones said.
During the pandemic, Quinones got to spend more time with his children, recalling time spent with his daughter, Isabella; smiling when mentioning their binge of “Ted Lasso.”
“I feel like I got lucky that I had that fall with my daughter,” Quinones said. “We just had great conversations about stuff. It's been interesting. Sometimes we like to watch some interesting shows. Some are funny, some are not.”
When Quinones interviewed for the dean position, he stood out amidst the other candidates for his genuine interest in the University of Richmond and what UR stood for, professor of economics Timothy Hamilton said.
“He was really curious about what we cared about, which I think is really important in a dean, particularly,” Hamilton said. “He very much came across as wanting to be a part of the business school as opposed to wanting to run [it].”
When he first stepped on campus in his new role, one of Quinones’ first objectives was to meet with every professor in the business school and get to know them on a personal level beyond their courses, he said.
“[Quinones is] great at leading by example,” accounting professor Ashley Austin said. “He really came in to try to listen to everyone first before making really large changes to anything. He really wanted to listen first, and you could see that.”
Quinones previously served as a department chair in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University until 2019. He was recognized as an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, the highest recognition given at SMU for teaching effectiveness.
Quinones wanted to see where each professor worked, how they decorated their offices and what was important to them as members of his faculty, he said.
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Quinones has four guiding principles that he often reflects on: excellence, relevance, impact and community, he said. He enjoys thinking about how the business school could expand its focus on relevant topics and have a greater impact on the UR community.
“One of the things that I would love that would be different is that the campus, our greater community, sees the business school as a partner and as a vehicle for making the world a better place,” Quinones said.
Quinones also wants to foster a more welcoming environment around the business school, especially for non-business majors, he said.
“I want students who come to the University of Richmond, if they choose not to major in business -- I want it to be because they have found something else they’re really passionate about, not because they didn’t think they belong in a business school,” Quinones said.
The way the city of Richmond views the business school is another perception Quinones hopes to change in the future.
“Five years, ten years from now, I would like the city of Richmond to see the Robins school as a resource for economic development and innovation and growth and support for our business community,” Quinones said.
While at SMU, Quinones led the Latino Leadership Initiative, a program sponsored by Fortune 500 companies, such as Walmart and Coca-Cola, that aimed to develop and provide executive skills to Latino students. During his time leading the initiative, over 200 Latino executives were hired and were quickly promoted in their careers, he said.
“Many of them got promoted the time or after into vice president roles within their company,” Quinones said. “It was extremely rewarding, but the purpose of it was to respond to a critical business need -- the changing demographic of the labor force.”
Quinones believes that a similar program at UR would be beneficial, he said.
“The reality is that we, as a country and all organizations, rely on the talents of everyone in the organization,” Quinones said. “If we’re not tapping into any particular group, it’s to our detriment. Any way that we can develop and find barriers to participation to advancement to any particular group, we should tackle that for sure.”
Quinones was born in Puerto Rico and moved with his family to Texas when he was 11, he said. From a young age, Quinones’ parents encouraged his service-based mindset and his natural curiosity.
“My dad was always very much a servant heart kind of person,” Quinones said. “He’s the kind of person in a social setting that’s getting things for people, and he’s always been very attentive.
“That ability to make an impact and serve was always sort of ingrained in me, and I think that’s why I gravitated towards teaching.”
Quinones graduated with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and management from Texas A&M University in 1987, according to LinkedIn. He went on to receive his PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from Michigan State University in 1993. After graduating, Quinones began his teaching career as an associate professor with Rice University.
During his 10-year career at Rice, Quinones and his wife were a part of students’ daily lives with Quinones having worked as a magistrate, a faculty advisor for residential students. Quinones still keeps in touch with some of his former students today, he said.
Quinones also served as a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 2005.
Having been all over the world in a variety of different positions, Quinones embraces each new experience as an opportunity, he said.
“Every place I’ve been, whether it be Rice, SMU and even University of Arizona or in Chile or in Madrid on my sabbaticals in Fulbright, I always learn something new,” Quinones said. “I wanted to get back to the ability to have a more direct impact on students, and Richmond just appealed to me that way.”
Alongside his love for teaching, Quinones also enjoys camping, rocking out on his guitar and running long distances having participated in 15 marathons, he said.
Contact features writer Quinn Humphrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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