by Karen E. Culp
Dr. Tom Zimmerer has watched a lot of college administrators at work, and he knows what he likes and what he doesn't. He hopes to translate that experience into a successful tenure at Drury College, where he will succeed Dr. Curt Strube as director of the Breech School of Business Administration.
"I've watched a lot of academic administrators. I've seen good ones, and I've seen bad ones. I hope to follow the pattern set by the good ones and stay away from the practices of the bad ones," Zimmerer said.
Zimmerer is currently the chairholder of the Allen and Ruth Harris Chair of Excellence in Business and professor of management in the College of Business at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. He has been in that position since 1992.
He said the powerful administration at Drury, the intelligence of the college's students and the quality of the Springfield business community were what led him to leave his post of six years. He will begin his position at Drury June 1.
"I'm very impressed with the administration at Drury. These are people who are really making things happen for the college," Zimmerer said.
Zimmerer grew up in St. Louis and also worked for McDonnell Aircraft before it became McDonnell Douglas. He first came to Springfield with his uncle, who worked for the Frisco Railroad. He said it is interesting to note how much the town has grown over the years.
"When I first saw Springfield, it was really a small town, but now it is growing into the type of 21st century economy that we all hear about. You've got a thriving health care system there that employs 12,000 people and some high tech companies moving in," Zimmerer said.
The quality of the business community will be important to him in his new position, Zimmerer said, because he feels students need to have both text-based and hands-on knowledge when they graduate with a business degree.
"You would never go to a physician who had only read medical books and had never practiced medicine on an actual patient. Nor should you expect a business school graduate to lack real-life experience," Zimmerer said.
Throughout his own career, Zimmerer said, he has combined what he has learned in the classroom with what he has learned in the board room.
"This will be a great opportunity for me to try to practice the best of what I've seen," Zimmerer said.
He added that he will be dependent on the business community in southwest Missouri for help in getting students started in the right direction.
"It is vitally important that students be in constant contact with business professionals. They need to get a good impression of what these people are doing every day and what's important to them," Zimmerer said.
Zimmerer received a bachelor's degree in management and economics from The American University in Washington, D.C., a master's degree in economics from Louisiana State University, and a PhD in management from the University of Arkansas.
Other than East Tennessee State, Zimmerer has taught and worked at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., and at the University of Arkansas. His experience at Clemson included serving as the associate director of the Emerging Technology Development and Marketing Center, a center that dealt with intellectual property and the development of ideas.
"Faculty and academics often write papers about ideas and then stick them in a drawer. In this program, we tried to get patents for a lot of those good ideas that are out there and move them along," Zimmerer said.
Zimmerer was a co-founder of the center, which helped Clemson become the No. 8 city in income from intellectual property, he said.
Zimmerer has a strong interest in health care and has produced a number of papers on the topic. Recently, he and his wife, who is a 15-year veteran of the health care industry, produced a survey of hospitals in the state of Tennessee, with the cooperation of the state's health department.
Zimmerer said he is eager to repeat the survey in Missouri.[[In-content Ad]]
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