Stephen Standifird will begin serving as dean of Butler’s College of Business on June 1.
Standifird is currently the dean of the Schroeder School of Business at the University of Evansville. He previously served as associate dean and director of undergraduate programs at the University of San Diego’s School of Business and began his career at Western Washington University as an assistant professor of management.
“As a sitting dean, he definitely understands the requirements of the job,” said professor in the College of Business Brian Landis, who sat on the search committee for the new dean. “But his ability to relate to people is extraordinary. He has an exceptional way with people.”
University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathryn Morris said she thinks Standifird’s demeanor will serve him well at Butler.
“Steve has a temperament and interpersonal style that, I believe, makes him especially well-suited for the position at Butler,” Morris said. “He is also very enthusiastic about Butler, and is quite excited for the possibilities that lie ahead for the college.”
Vice President of University Advancement Shari Richey also sat on the search committee and said her role in the office of advancement, as well as a 1988 College of Business graduate, gives her a unique perspective during the search process.
“Steve really has the whole package,” Richey said. “It’s obvious that he will be a great leader and a great listener. During the interview process he really made his mark.”
During his time at Evansville, Standifird oversaw the creation of a new Institute for Banking and Finance and a Global Virtual Classroom. Standifird also created a $1.2 million endowment for career services.
“From what he’s done to date, it’s obvious that Standifird has the ability to go out and fundraise and friend-raise,” Richey said. “He has a lot of energy and is so positive.”
Kate Carroll, a junior marketing and finance major, was the only student on the search committee. She was impressed by all candidates, but specifically Standifird’s personability.
“He was very easy to relate to and easy to talk to,” Carroll said. “His student interview was fabulous. I completely lost track of time during it because it went so well.”
Standifird, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University, his MBA from Northwestern University and his doctorate in organizational studies from the University of Oregon, said he is drawn to Butler’s innovative atmosphere.
“I became very fascinated and excited in Butler’s College of Business because of the energy of the school, and because it has long been known as a fabulous business school,” Standifird said. “The College of Business definitely puts a strong emphasis on innovation and I want to be able to build on that.
“At this point, the boundaries are limitless because Butler is very interested in doing innovative things,” Standifird said.
At Evansville, Standifird had a dean’s advisory council comprised of business students. He said he plans to create a similar student advisory council at Butler.
“Part of the reason why that council is so great is because students come up with great ideas,” Standifird said. “Innovations can come from anyone, whether it’s administration, faculty, staff, the business community or students.”
Carroll said it was apparent that Standifird uses his student advisory council frequently.
“Sometimes it’s obvious when these kinds of councils are created but not really taken seriously,” Carroll said. “But he specifically mentioned how many ideas and changes came out of this council. I really hope this continues at Butler.”
The search committee reviewed all applicants and chose 10 candidates for preliminary interviews. They then invited four finalists to on-campus interviews during the last week in February and the first week in March, Morris said.
College of Business professor Stephanie Fernhaber said she was impressed by the applicant pool.
“All of the other candidates were very good,” Fernhaber said. “We were looking for a number of attributes—externally, regarding fundraising, and internally, to hopefully take the College of Business to the next level.”
Morris said she appreciates the work of current College of Business Dean Chuck Williams.
“The College of Business has grown and evolved over the six years that Chuck Williams has served as dean,” Morris said. “Chuck and Steve have been, and will continue to be, in communication to ensure a positive transition. I am thankful for the years of leadership Chuck has provided, and look forward to the future.”
Landis said he recognizes the struggles that Williams faced as dean during the economic recession.
“The College of Business was able to still do very well during Dean Williams’ tenure,” Landis said. “Rankings continued to go up. Even amidst the greatest economic recession the country has faced since the Great Depression he maintained College of Business enrollment and also MBA program enrollment, which is not easy to do in a difficult economy.”
Landis also said he sees areas where the College of Business can afford to change and grow.
“The Real Life, Real Experience strategy has been in place in the College of Business since 2000,” Landis said. “It has served us well, but like any plan it needs to be updated.”
Carroll said she would like to see some improvement to the internship program, among other things.
“I know that a lot of business students have problems with the current internship program,” Carroll said. “But something I would personally love to see is the addition of an analytics major.”
Richey said she sees a new dean as an opportunity for improvement.
“The College of Business is very strong as is,” Richey said. “But I do think Steve will allow us to keep raising the bar and develop even stronger relationships for jobs and internships and to provide students with an even richer experience.”
Fernhaber said she believes a new dean will bring new outlook to the College of Business.
“Change is always a good thing,” Fernhaber said. “I think this is a good opportunity to get a fresh outlook.”