Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business gains new dean

Ashanka Kumari

The Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration welcomes a new leader for the first time in over 20 years.

After serving for 10 years as a faculty member in statistics, Associate Dean of Research and Senior Associate Dean J. Michael Hardin replaced Barry Mason as the new dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.

“Dr. Hardin gained an intimate working knowledge of both the college and the University in his role as senior associate dean,” Executive Vice President and Provost Judy Bonner said. “This understanding, together with his commitment to both rigor and relevance, will enable him to provide effective leadership immediately.”

Hardin said he will use three principles to judge his decisions and build on the foundation that Mason built.

“Innovation, rigor and relevance—I call that my IR2 plan,” Hardin said. “Anything we do, I want to ask carefully, ‘Is this innovative?’ ‘Are we thinking of fresh and new thoughts?’ The rigor is about whether we are demanding enough out of our students and faculty. Are we carefully thinking about the things we are doing—not because they are done in the past but that they make sense now?”

In using those three principles, one of Hardin’s major goals is to increase focus on students getting jobs and contributing to economic society.

“If in the next 10 years—the next governor of the state, president of the U.S., the next CEO of Microsoft—if those are C&BA graduates, those are the kinds of people I want us to be educating and training today,” Hardin said.

For students, Hardin emphasized preparation for their future careers as one of his highest priorities.

“I want to really make sure that we prepare them for their jobs,” Hardin said. “Most students major in business because they want to get jobs when they graduate—that’s a high priority for me.

“I have actually offered myself to travel to businesses like Yahoo! and Google to talk to them about how wonderful our students are. We have a wonderful work ethic and I know Coach Saban talks about how he wants his football team to fear how physical we are — I want other people who will give our students jobs to fear our work ethic in the same way.”

Barry Mason, former dean and Russell Professor of Business Administration and Interim Director of the Alabama Productivity Center, said the process of selecting the new dean involved a national search.

“Provost Judy Bonner appointed a committee with the responsibility of a national search to recommend three finalists whom she interviewed before making the decision on whom to offer the position,” Mason said.

Following Mason’s footsteps, Hardin said he feels he is just adding to what was already built.

“I think that Dean Mason laid a great foundation and was a great leader during his 23-year reign,” Hardin said. “I don’t see myself changing things, I just see myself building on the foundation he laid.”

Mason said Hardin is bringing a lot of experience into the position.

“[Dean Hardin] will bring a wealth of experience both as having served as Senior Associate Dean and Associate Dean of Research in the college in addition to a wide breadth of experience from UAB where he was a faculty member before coming to the University of Alabama,” Mason said.

Hardin said, “I want them to be what I call hyper-successful and not just do great, but exceed all expectations. I want our graduates to be the ones that will get promoted early because they are working everyone under the table.”

Bonner said she is positive that the new dean will collaborate well with the faculty to lead at a high level.

“I am confident that Dean Hardin, with the support of the faculty, will lead the Culverhouse College of Commerce to a new level of national prominence as measured by national standards,” Bonner said.