Message from the Dean

Bob Wood

Another academic year is drawing to a close.  It seems as if Fall Convocation was just last week—the passing of the months seems to accelerate as each year goes by.

Three senior faculty members are retiring.  The three have served the Mitchell College for a combined 37 years.  Drs. Donna Retzlaff-Roberts, Professor of Management and Julie Sneath, Professor of Marketing both joined the College in 2003. Dr. Retzlaff-Roberts has been instrumental in providing a strong statistical grounding for our students teaching the two applied business statistics courses and operations research at the undergraduate level and operations management and analytical decision making at the graduate level.  Dr. Sneath has been THE Principles of Marketing instructor for a number of years—hundreds of alumni give her credit for their strong foundation in marketing.  In addition to the principles course, she has taught retailing, services marketing, consumer behavior, and the MBA marketing course.  Dr. Don Epley, Professor of Finance joined the MCOB faculty in 2005.  In addition to teaching the real estate course sequence, he served as director of the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED).  Their knowledge and experience will be missed.  We wish them the best.

The faculty have been busy this year.  In addition to the usual teaching, research, and committee work, we’ve had one or more searches going on in the College throughout the year and a number of campus-wide initiatives that have incorporated their expertise.  We were successful in our efforts; a number of seasoned scholars and newly-minted faculty will join us in August.  We’ll introduced them in an article in the September issue.

The College resumed its Executive Leadership Series this year.  In October, Mr. Craig Perciavalle, President of Austal USA shared Austal’s history and its current efforts in manufacturing the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessels for the U.S. Navy.  Mr. Matt Saurage, the President and CEO of Community Coffee was our guest in April.  As the 4th generation leader of the largest family-owned retail coffee business, he discussed not only maintaining the high standards instilled by his predecessors but strategies for the continuing growth of the company.

We also started an Executive in Residence Program in the fall.    Mr. Chad Hurley shared his experience and expertise with the Mitchell College in the October.  Mr. Hurley is a retired serial entrepreneur that recently relocated to the Gulf Coast.  The founder and creator of a number of diverse companies, Mr. Hurley shared his passion for developing new business.  Mr. Mike Dow, Executive Vice President of Centralite, joined us in the spring.  A former four-term mayor of Mobile (reformed mayor in his words), he brought an entrepreneurial spirt to Mobile city government.  Mr. Dow was also co-founder and an officer with Quality Micro Systems (QMS), a publicly traded printer manufacturer.  In addition to his current position with Centralite, Mr. Dow serves as Chair of our Melton Center Advisory Council.

As we continue our emphasis on community outreach and engagement, the Mitchell College again recognized National Business Women’s Week, welcoming a number of professionals into the classroom.  In addition, we held our inaugural Professor for a Day event in March inviting corporate leaders into the classroom.  These professionals included Brent Barkin, Vice President of Shoe Station; Mark Davidson, Director of Investments for Cornerstone Investment Management; Susan A. Riley, a partner with Topp McWhorter Harvey, PLLC;  and James H. “Jimmy“ Shumock, Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Holdings Inc. and Thompson Engineering Inc.  

We also welcomed eleven new members to the Executive Advisory Council in February.  These members increased our geographical and industry footprint.  I look forward to working with them. In addition to the existing CREED and MCEI boards, We now have active advisory councils for each discipline and for our Professional Resource Engagement Program that kicks off this fall.

As you can see, it’s been an extremely busy year.  I want to thank the faculty and staff of the Mitchell College for their efforts; without them, none of this would have happened.  Our next issue will be published in September.  Best wishes for a great summer.


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