Enhancing opportunities for student development is an important aspect of Dr. Russ Jones' personal mission as he begins his tenure as dean of the Arkansas Tech University College of Business.
"I want our students exposed to nationwide and regional competitions," said Jones. "I want them to get out of their comfort zone. One of the problems with a lot of students, especially in Arkansas, is they are hesitant to leave the state. They need to be exposed to other cultures, other regions and other ways of thinking."
Jones took office at ATU on July 6. He came to ATU from Arkansas State University, where he was the Kathy White Professor of Management Information Systems (2006-20).
His previous roles at ASU included chair of accounting and computer information technology (2015-18), online Master of Business Administration degree coordinator (2009-12), associate professor of decision sciences (1995-2005) and assistant professor of computer information science (1989-95).
He also has experience as a lecturer at the University of Caen in France and the University of Otago in New Zealand.
After two months at Arkansas Tech, Jones has found that his initial impressions of the university have been confirmed.
"This is a very caring place," said Jones. "That was one of the things that attracted me to Tech when I went through the interview process. It's such a close-knit group that cares about student success. I've seen time and time again during my first two months here the willingness that people have to go the extra mile."
Jones cited the technology in Rothwell Hall and leading-edge curriculum in areas such as business data analytics and digital marketing as differentiating factors for the ATU College of Business.
He wants to take the next step by expanding existing external partnerships and building new ones.
"One of the things I think every student should get out of college is an internship," said Jones. "Building relationships with businesses makes that possible. We also want guest speakers, even if it is virtually. If students can see someone who was sitting in their chair and is now a successful business leader, that shows the current students they can do it too. It's really inspirational for our students to see that."
Jones foresees a day when virtual reality and augmented reality through distance learning will be an essential aspect of higher education, and yet, he still places a premium on face-to-face instruction when possible.
"It's nice to have the availability of online classes, but you don't get the social interaction," said Jones. "I tell students that if you can come to the classroom, come to the classroom. We know we will have a population that will take online classes and we want to give them as close of an experience to the classroom as possible. The only way we can do that is through advanced technology."
Regardless of delivery method, establishing ethical frameworks and highlighting diversity are some of the fundamental experiences that Jones wants the ATU College of Business to provide for each of its students.
"I want them to know we gave them the right classes and had them prepared," said Jones. "One of our most important jobs is to offer the best curriculum possible to make graduates employable. We are a teaching institution first, and that means that we must teach the most up-to-date information in the best way possible so that our students will have a good career experience. I want them to know they got the best education possible for their dollar."
The ATU College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
The college offers Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees in accounting, business data analytics, finance, management and marketing as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in business education and a Master of Business Administration degree with concentrations in digital marketing and business data analytics.
Learn more about the ATU College of Business at www.atu.edu/business.