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August 16, 2002

 School of Business faculty thank interim dean
for a job well done

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. These are all words faculty and staff in the Indiana State University School of Business use when describing David Hopkins, who served as interim dean of the school during the 2001-2002 academic year.

Even though Hopkins did not have a background in business or being a dean, faculty members say he was just what they needed to continue looking optimistically at the future.

“His style is such that he was able to motivate us all,” said Steven Lamb, chairperson of the analytical department and professor of quality and decision systems. “He really worked tirelessly on our behalf. He has a remarkable lack of ego himself, but does everything possible to raise the self-esteem of others. As a consequence, you feel so motivated to work for him and bring out the best in yourself. He doesn’t have to read a book on servant leadership, he IS servant leadership.”

Hopkins was appointed interim dean of the School of Business and senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs on July 1, 2001. He had just completed an 8-month term as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. Previously he served as associate vice president for academic affairs and before that as chairperson of the department of physical education.

His appointment as interim dean came after two failed dean searches and another year of continuing review for the school’s accreditation.

“The spirit of the school was not upbeat,” recalled Bruce McLaren, chairperson of the organizational department and professor of management information systems. “Although not trained as a business professor, [Hopkins] has employed outstanding managerial skills for this academic year. … Dr. Hopkins leads by example, and we started the year off on the right foot with an outstanding school retreat in August. Dave used creative problem solving techniques to uncover the most important issues facing the school. In the process, we derived the strategic goals for the school. As a leadership team, we constantly reviewed our five strategic goals through the year, and established action plan priorities based on those.”

Max E. Douglas, program coordinator, management and professor of management, agreed.

“Dave Hopkins is a great example of servant leadership,” Douglas said. “He empowered the faculty. He’s a great example of an individual who knew how to guide and mentor people in a very positive way. He moved us forward and made many strides in his brief tenure. He redefined what interim means. I have much respect for his tremendous work and diligence. He’s a role model for all academic leaders.”

The goals of the School of Business for the 2001-2002 academic year were in line with the university’s goals for its strategic plan, Hopkins said. Hopkins stressed that the goals were not his alone, but the entire School of Business agreed it was important to make the goals a priority. The five goals were:

1.     Invest in people

2.     Diversify income stream

3.     Close the loop

4.     Develop a collaborative culture

5.     Enhance the image

Invest in people:

Part of the school’s efforts to invest in its people included brown bag presentations, mentoring new faculty and simply asking faculty how they were doing and encouraging them.

“We were attracting some outstanding faculty,” Hopkins explained. “But we not only have to attract them, but retain them, too. And not just faculty, but support staff too. We had to look at whether we were providing them opportunities to grow and become better. We had to ask ourselves, ‘Are we as good as the people who work here?’”

Diversify income streams:

Because of the status of the state budget, diversifying the school’s income stream has become extremely important, Hopkins said.

“The university, over the past two decades has been losing a percentage of our budget from the state,” Hopkins explained. “Ninety percent of our budget used to come from the state. It’s down to 67 percent right now. If we’re going to maintain quality and enhance quality, we’ve got to find other revenue streams to do the things we want to do.”

The school is exploring avenues from grants to gifts as potential sources of income. A new development officer for the school, Ellen Paxton, is expected to play a big role. “The idea is getting people to support the School of Business because they believe in what the School of Business is trying to do in preparing future leaders of business in the world,” Hopkins said.

Close the loop:

Hopkins said the school has done a good job of assessing student learning outcomes and curriculum procedures. However, something that came from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business review was whether the school was using that information to make informed decisions about changing curriculum, the sequencing of courses or the advising system, for example.

“I think we focused on how to use the data more effectively this year so we weren’t making decisions without informed data,” Hopkins said. “I think that was just more of a mindset. I think the school was already doing it, we just decided with needed to finish it and use it to make our programs better.”

Develop a collaborative culture:

This goal developed from the August 2001 retreat. A recurring theme was that faculty need to work together more, collaborate in research and projects. Some faculty also expressed the desire to get together socially more often as well. So the school had a holiday party, a gold outing and a first-time emeriti breakfast.

“Some of the faculty just wanted to spend more time with each other,” Hopkins said. “You know how it is when you know a person beyond the work environment — you know their family, their hobbies, their struggles — you work differently together.”

Hopkins acknowledges that not everyone wants to socialize after hours with colleagues, but for those who do, more opportunities are available.

Enhance the image:

Something Hopkins noticed about the School of Business while he serving in different areas across the ISU campus for 14 years was that they “didn’t realize how good they were.

“I think somewhere along the way they got this inferiority complex,” Hopkins said. “And I don’t know why, when you’ve got all these outstanding faculty members, Caleb Mills award winners and others.”

Hopkins said misperceptions about the school’s ongoing accreditation review in the media and the public delivered quite a blow to the morale of the school’s faculty.

“There was this perception with the accreditation process that got into a newspaper article two years ago that was totally wrong and gave the wrong impressions and we had to start to overcome that,” Hopkins said. “The school is good — very good. You look at the State of Indiana, we may not corner the market on MBA programs … but you talk about an undergraduate education in business, this is the place to come. There’s no doubt about it in terms of the quality of education you get, the hands-on faculty members who really do care about student learning.”

Hopkins said one of the first things he noticed as interim dean was that business faculty were eager to work together and have a more positive attitude. He has seen that happen over the past year.

“We had to start talking more positively about ourselves,” he said.

In addition to boosting the school’s image internally, the school is pursuing other avenues to share that image with the external world, including meeting with the Chamber of Commerce to find ways for the school and community to work together on projects, and rethinking the school’s website, viewbook and other printed materials so they reflect the quality and excitement occurring within the school.

Ronald F. Green, dean of the School of Business, is impressed with the work Hopkins has done.

“As a candidate and dean-elect for the school, I think it’s very rare to find a school that has an interim dean and two-year process of being carefully examined by an accrediting board to have the positive attitude found among faculty and staff as there is here,” Green said. “It’s a great testimony to Dave’s leadership and the collaborative spirit here. It’s remarkable in my mind the attitude, the cultural change in the way people are thinking about the school and how to move it forward.”

President Lloyd W. Benjamin III appreciates the work Hopkins has done and is pleased to have Green aboard. He is also happy to welcome new faculty to the school this year and looks forward to the continued strengthening of programs within the School of Business.

“It’s time to move on with a permanent dean,” Benjamin said. “Ron Green has joined us and we’re very pleased about that. We have in the dean someone who espouses a philosophy that I continue to try to promulgate across the campus and the community and that is that we have academic programs that are intended to be responsive to the needs of the region and the needs of the state. That couldn’t be any more true than, I think, in the world of business. Certainly business ethics is becoming and important issue and one that I know we address well in our curriculum.”

Faculty and staff in the School of Business are saddened to see Hopkins return to Academic Affairs, but they’re excited about what the future holds.

And Hopkins is welcome to go back for a visit anytime.

“[Hopkins] was able to raise the level of productivity around here and he just inspired the work ethic among us all,” Lamb said. “He’s rather exceptional. We were very, very luck to have him step into this position. He’s an important part of our past and he helped shape our future and our mindset.”


David Hopkins, senior vice president for academic affairs,
(812) 237-2304 or

Jennifer Kearns, assistant director of Public Affairs
(812) 237-8037 or

ISU Public Affairs:
(812) 237-3773 or