Chris Puto

Changing of the Guard

Christopher Puto, Ph.D., who soon will conclude his 12-year span as dean of the Opus College of Business, discusses the change in leadership.

On even days during the winter and every day in the summer, visitors gather to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. While the Queen’s Guard is by no means equivalent to that country’s leadership, the daily ceremony does reaffirm the sense of stability of the country. In a university setting, the “guard” serves the important function of preserving the institutional values and processes to assure continuity during changes in institutional leadership. At St. Thomas, as in most universities, the role of the guard rests with the faculty, who provide the continuity of institutional values that is so important as leadership changes.

This is especially relevant at St. Thomas. Our president, Julie Sullivan, Ph.D., is completing her first full year, and Richard Plumb, Ph.D., will be joining St. Thomas as provost this August. Importantly for the Opus College of business, our new dean, Stefanie Lenway, Ph.D., also will be starting her tenure this July. This has been an intense recruiting time, and the members of the respective search committees deserve our highest commendation for their tireless, dedicated work to identify and recruit such outstanding leaders.

Now, it is up to all of us – faculty, staff, students, alumni and our supporters in the business community – to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome to these new leaders. Dr. Lenway comes to us with an impressive record of accomplishments, first as a professor of global strategy at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, then as dean at the University of Illinois-Chicago and most recently as dean of the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. Few schools can claim such a highly respected scholar and such an experienced dean as Dr. Lenway.

As most B. readers know, the Opus College of Business has been on an arduous journey since the summer of 2002. We have seen many successes: Revised graduate and undergraduate curricula, AACSB accreditation, hiring of 50+ new faculty colleagues, a top 100 national ranking for the Full-time UST MBA, a 110 ranking for our part-time MBA and a top 80 national ranking for our undergraduate business program.

And through all of this, our longstanding values of excellent student-centered teaching and productive scholarly engagement remain strongly intact. Credit for this stability throughout such change rests with our faculty, who steadfastly stewarded our college culture at every step of the journey. Whenever conflicting choices arose, they resisted the temptation to choose the lesser good.

In preparing to enter the next phase of my professional life, I reflect with great affection on the experiences of these past 12 years. I know well the deep commitment of all who hold this university so dearly, and that gives me great hope for the future we are poised to achieve. Rather than say “good bye,” I prefer the words of my Austrian friends: “Auf Wiedersehen!”

Editor's note: Following a one-year sabbatical leave, Puto plans to return to the university as a member of the Opus College of Business faculty.

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