Second candidate presented for Dean of Gordon Ford College of Business

Dr. Stephen Farris, candidate for dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business, speaks at a forum at Grise Hall on Wednesday. Farris is currently the dean of the University of Colorado Springs’ college of business.

Lily Burris

The second candidate for the Dean of Gordon Ford College of Business was presented Wednesday at an open forum open to all faculty and staff.

Stephen Ferris presented himself as a candidate to members of WKU in Grise Hall for the position of Dean of GFCB. His presentation focused on how he aligned with WKU’s strategic plan and what he thought the future may hold for GFCB.

Ferris described his research on WKU at the beginning of his presentation. He explained he didn’t know the culture at the university, and everything he found was from information available online. 

Ferris spoke of his background and prior 22-year service in the navy reserve. As a resident of Pittsburgh, he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with his doctorate, and went to Virginia Tech where he learned about research teaching. From there Ferris went to be a part of the administration at Missouri where he worked at many different levels. He is currently a dean at Colorado Springs University.

“One thing that I did learn is that if the dean has a different view of things than the chancellor or the president, that’s not gonna be a happy marriage and the dean’s perspective is not going to prevail,” Ferris said. “I want to find an opportunity where the college leadership was articulating a vision that was going in a direction that I felt comfortable with.”

Ferris said he was interested in WKU’s strategic plan with its focus on innovation and community engagement. He also looked at the accreditation standards and how that went with the strategic plan. Ferris said he felt the position was attractive to him.

After reflecting on himself, Ferris decided that he could add value to the university, and he decided to send in his application.

Ferris’s presentation focused on the external and internal factors that impact the GFCB and the factors that aligned from both the outside and the inside. Ferris discussed were involvements without outside entities, non-traditional and online students, and how to work in a changing world.

The presentation ended with challenges and opportunities that WKU and GFCB would face, including the university’s brand and the sectors of excellence at WKU. He also said he supported study abroad and the importance of students.

At the end of the forum, faculty and staff were encouraged to ask questions to Ferris. One member asked what Ferris would do in his first 100 days as dean. His answer focused on meeting people and learning WKU.

“I think in those first hundred days I need to learn,” said Ferris. “I need to listen. I need to understand the people here. I need to understand the culture.”

News reporter Lily Burris can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @lily_burris.