Beehler leaving WSU for Northern Ky. position

11:30:59 AM CDT - Thursday, July 19, 2007

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

“A tough act to follow” and “an outstanding dean” were how a WSU administrator and a prominent business leader described John Beehler, following the announcement that he would be leaving the helm of the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

Beehler, who has been dean of the WSU business school since fall 2000, will leave his post, effective Aug. 13 to become the associate provost of economic initiatives at Northern Kentucky University and dean of NKU’s business college.

An interim dean will be appointed in the near future and a national search will be conducted, said Gary L. Miller, WSU provost and vice president for academic affairs and research. Because of the Barton School’s close ties with the area business community, local business leaders will be consulted in the search, Miller noted.

“John Beehler brought to WSU an exciting vision of how business schools succeed in an urban environment,” said Miller. “Over the past seven years he has implemented that vision to make the Barton School one of the finest business schools in the country. We’re most appreciative of his great work. He will be a tough act to follow.”

Beehler liked to call the relationship between the Barton School and the area business community the “Barton School Connection.”

“As a college of business in an urban location, it’s important for the college to be close to the business community, which is something he worked on,” said Fran Jabara, a well-known local entrepreneur who founded WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Beehler “was an outstanding dean.”

Because of Jabara’s unique position as a local businessman and a former dean of WSU’s business school, Beehler said he developed a friendship with the well-respected Jabara.

“I always enjoyed meeting with him and in every instance I felt his approach to issues was sound,” Jabara said, noting that he always allowed Beehler to make contact because “I was a part of yesterday and he was a part of tomorrow.”

Finding a dean can be a challenge in today’s market, particularly for an AACSB-accredited school like WSU’s, said Neal Mero, vice president and chief advocacy officer for AACSB.

The Barton School holds dual accreditation from AACSB International for its business and accounting programs. Fewer than 600 schools hold AACSB accreditation so if WSU wants someone from another accredited school that will narrow the search pool, Mero noted. Plus, “there does appear to be a lot of openings right now for business school deans because deans seem to move on after five years of deanship,” he said.

The proliferation of business schools internationally is also increasing the competition for deans, Mero said. Schools tend to recruit deans who have proven success records, like Beehler’s.

One of the Beehler’s most significant initiatives during his tenure was helping establish the Market-Based Management Center, the first of its kind in the nation. T started last year as a joint project between the Barton School and the Market-Based Management Institute, founded by Charles Koch of Koch Industries. Koch Industries has used the market-based management philosophy to position itself as the world’s largest privately held corporation.

The Barton School also dramatically increased opportunities for its students to gain international business experience, signing a number of agreements between the school and universities abroad, including in Europe, Asia and Australia. Last summer, Beehler visited universities in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to negotiate such agreements. He also helped increase the use of technology in Barton School classrooms.

Under Beehler’s tenure as dean, more than $15 million was gifted to the Barton School of Business through the WSU Foundation, providing funding for five new endowed positions and several new faculty positions.

Other initiatives that occurred under his leadership included the development of Barton School’s Business Week, which offers a series of sessions by local business leaders and a keynote speaker to help students prepare for their careers, and the restart of the James P. Schwartz Memorial Lecture, which has since featured the leaders of Wal-Mart and Pepsi-Co giving speeches to WSU students and the area business community.

“I would like to thank the Barton School faculty, staff, students and alumni and the business community for their efforts in our pursuit of excellence these past seven years,” Beehler said.

The Barton School is the only business school in south-central Kansas accredited by AASCB International, which is the premier accreditation agency for business schools worldwide. The accreditation ensures that the program is meeting high standards and quality.

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