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Stephanie Bryant looks out over the ongoing construction of Glass Hall’s $26 million expansion outside the COB computer lab.
Stephanie Bryant looks out over the ongoing construction of Glass Hall’s $26 million expansion outside the COB computer lab.

Day in the Life with Stephanie Bryant

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Stephanie Bryant is understandably busy starting the week off in early May. It’s a time of transition for Missouri State University’s College of Business.

Bryant, the college’s first female dean, spends a sizable portion of this rainy day communicating about the end of the spring semester, the start of the fall academic year and the $26 million renovation and expansion of Glass Hall occurring literally outside her window.

At 8 a.m., Bryant runs through her agenda with Sherri Cornelius, her executive assistant and, more informally, “gatekeeper.”

“I think I can do both of those,” Bryant says nonchalantly, adding to an already full schedule. “We obviously are going to support this.”

Construction on Glass Hall – the home of the COB – is audible and a crane is visible outside Bryant’s fourth-floor office. Her workspace is full of awards, family photos, a large whiteboard for notes and business magazines. Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is displayed in her windowsill.

The COB dean since August 2011, Bryant puts her educational background to use checking off budgetary items and approving expenses.

“It helps to have an accounting degree,” she says.

With a brief moment between meetings, Bryant tours Glass Hall, pointing to hanging cables, construction areas and outdated decor as DeWitt & Associates Inc. workers filter in and out. The building is a work in progress with a final completion date scheduled in fall 2017.

Back outside her office, she gives advice to a few students preparing a presentation.

“Open strong. Close strong,” she says.

At 9:45 a.m., Bryant sits down with Carole Hale, a COB academic administrative assistant who’s creating an administrative manual for the college. Bryant recommends converting the Word document to a PDF.

“We don’t want everybody to go in and Wikipedia it,” she says.

From there, it’s quickly into a meeting with Elizabeth Rozell, one of Bryant’s two associate deans, to discuss the COB’s strategic plan and review faculty issues.

The two talk about an upcoming accreditation check, running down a list of some of the nearly 230 COB employees to make sure they’re meeting benchmarks.

Bryant and Rozell leave the office and hop in the dean’s SUV parked in her personal space outside of Glass Hall. At 10:45 a.m., they arrive at MSU’s downtown Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center for the retirement ceremony of Kent Thomas, assistant vice president of international programs. There, she briefly catches up with MSU President Clif Smart. It’s back to the car at 11 a.m.

Ten minutes later, Bryant has an appointment with a student – one of three face-to-face student meetings.

After lunch, Bryant has a meeting with Rozell and Jane Patterson, an adjunct professor of business law looking to teach classes on a per-course basis at MSU.  

At 1:55 p.m., accounting major Elizabeth Sivill steps into the office to review her speech for the upcoming COB commencement.

“Woo! They’re all going to clap for that,” Bryant says, referring to Sivill’s reference to Smart, who’s popular among students.

Thirty minutes later, David Meinert, the other assistant dean of the COB, leads Bryant, Rozell and Cornelius on a tour of the Department of Merchandising & Fashion Design at MSU’s Park Central Office Building on the downtown square. Next week, Bryant and the COB staff will move into the building for 11 weeks as Glass Hall undergoes renovations.

The space is noticeably different than that of Glass Hall, with mannequins, sewing machines and various outfits lining the halls.

At 3 p.m., Bryant takes a phone call in her office from Cassie Collier, an MSU graduate who works as a ConocoPhillips analyst in Houston, Texas. She’s considering a Ph.D. offer and wants Bryant’s advice.

“You want to work with people who are going to mentor you and who are going to help you get published,” Bryant says. “I would probably be strongly inclined to look at this position. Timing is critical.”

Bryant steps into the COB conference room at 4 p.m. to visit with Meinert, Doug Sampson, university architect, and James McTavish, associate director of planning, design and construction.

Sampson provides a rundown of the Glass Hall construction progress.

“What happens to my legacy wall?” Bryant asks of a dividing wall in the computer lab where students select and display a motto. Next year’s is, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Sampson immediately assuages her concern.

“If they touch it, they’ll rebuild it. How about that?” he says.

The meeting ends about an hour later, but Bryant’s day isn’t over.

She meets for drinks at Flame Steakhouse with Liz Keller, a Los Angeles attorney, and Jackie Stiles, the former MSU basketball standout and the team’s current assistant coach. She transitions to dinner out with her husband, Gary, before the last work event of the evening.

Bryant participates in the annual president’s breakfast at Blair-Shannon Dining Center, where employees serve breakfast to students to celebrate the last week of school.

She’s home at 10:30 p.m., when she reads Stephen King’s “11/22/63” and scans the news.

Tomorrow, she’s got another packed day.

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