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Photo provided by STEPHANIE M. BRYANT
Photo provided by STEPHANIE M. BRYANT

Five Questions: Stephanie M. Bryant

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Stephanie M. Bryant has accepted the position of dean of the College of Business Administration at Missouri State University and will report to work Aug. 8. Bryant, a certified public accountant who earned both doctorate and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from Louisiana State University, most recently served as the director of the School of Accountancy at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. Her predecessor at MSU, Danny Arnold, served as dean April 2009–July 2010.

Q: How is this position going to differ from your current job?
A: As director of the School of Accountancy and the interim associate dean of graduate programs, I kind of do everything that a dean does already. I spend a lot of time fundraising, with external business relationships. I have two very large advisory boards that I run, and I oversee curriculum, hiring and promotion and tenure. I pretty much do everything that a dean does, but on a smaller, more defined scale.

Q: How will your background in accountancy influence your work at Missouri State?
A: Accounting is very service oriented, … and I have about 15 years of work experience outside academia. Accounting is sort of the backbone of the business community. I’ve told my students, “If you understand the financial statements, you don’t have to give that power away to someone else.” In terms of running the College of Business, the financial piece is a very big part of the college. I think it will be very important to me in terms of what we can afford to do.

Q: What drew you to seek this position?
A: A lot of people have said, “Why would you want to leave what you’ve got?” I’m well paid. I’m respected in the community. And, of course, Tampa is a beautiful place to be. You know, I’ve always known that I would be a dean. For me, it was just a question of where was the right fit. I knew when I went to the interview that this was going to be the right fit for me. They care a lot about students. I knew I wanted to be in a position where students would be valued and listened to and respected.

Q: What are your first-year goals as dean?
A: The most important thing I’ll need to do the first year is (develop) the strategic plan. The university is engaged in strategic planning, and the college doesn’t have a formal strategic plan. And I have a lot of experience with strategic planning. I’ve done it at the college level and the university level. I also was the international president for a large organization called Beta Alpha Psi, and I wrote its strategic plan with input from its board. A strategic plan is important because it guides your resource allocation. The second thing I’ll want to do is prepare for accreditation. The third thing is reach out to the business community and start working on the business relationships. We want to make sure that we are turning out students who are meeting their needs.

Q: What was the interview process like for you?
A: The way it works … you’ve got a search firm and their job is to pick out the résumés that are really the contenders. They send those to the internal search committee. Then you have the “airport interview.” They fly in the top people, and a lot of times those are held, literally, at the airport. In MSU’s case … the interviews were held on campus. You sit down with the search committee, and candidates come in one at a time. Then the committee narrows down the group to a set of finalists. Then you meet everybody because everybody has a big stake in this. For me, I was on campus for three days.
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