‘It’s finding a place where you fit in’: Management Professor Spiller named interim MBA director


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Grise Hall is home to the Gordon Ford Business College at Western Kentucky University.

Michael Crimmins, Adminstration reporter

Shane Spiller serves Western Kentucky University as faculty regent and as a management professor in the Gordon Ford College of Business, in addition to those duties, Spiller is putting on another hat as interim director of the Master of Business Administration program. 

“Finding a way to manage that workload is what I’ve worked on for the last two to three weeks,” Spiller said. “Really why most professors are here is to make a difference in a student’s life, so the opportunity to do this is something many of us wouldn’t turn down.”

Spiller was chosen as interim director to fill the vacancy left by Joanna Phillips-Melancon, who was MBA director previously. He said he did not apply for this position when it was previously open due to workload constraints, but because of his lengthy experience with the program they asked that he step in temporarily.

“I did not go for it simply because I was doing the Board of Regent, and with [that] I get no course reduction or anything like that,” Spiller said. “So I didn’t feel like I had the time, but when they started looking around this time they came to me and asked.”

Spiller said he will likely serve as interim director until sometime in June when a formal search will begin. Spiller did not say whether he will apply for the full-time director position, saying he would have to see if it’s “a fit for him and a fit for the university.”

Currently, Spiller estimates, there are 200 students enrolled in the program, and the MBA program has been completely online since the beginning of the pandemic. Due to the variety of local, national and non-traditional students, it is asynchronous.

“We do not have mandatory times because, while we do have a lot of locals, we could have students in different time zones,” Spiller said. “We’re always looking toward innovative ways to deliver content.”

Two of his main duties as interim director will be to advise the 200 students in their academic journey and to recruit future program attendees. He also works at getting the “word out” about the program with things like event tabling, possible sponsorships and the occasional advertisement.

From naval test pilots in Seattle to drone operators in New Mexico, from students in New York to students from Alaska, Spiller said it’s the wide array of perspectives and experiences that make the program so great, and so fulfilling for him.

“The nice thing about the MBA role and teaching is the connections that you make with people in the business community and around the world,” Spiller said. 

Recently U.S. News and World Report ranked the MBA program 73 out of 366 similar programs. They also ranked the program 52nd out of 100 programs that benefit veterans the most. With this high ranking, Spiller said the program will go through “innovative changes” to continue to serve the students. These changes include adding certificate programs that will be available to students.

Spiller said these innovative changes have not been finalized yet and so he would not specify  what the potential certificates were. He said curriculum matters would have to be approved by the Faculty Senate and then by the Board of Regents, but he did say they were well into the process. 

Spiller graduated from University of Alabama with a degree in business before continuing at the university and earning a doctorate.

He first came to WKU in 2006 after being recruited by Bob Hatfield, a professor of management and a former MBA program director. Before teaching at WKU. he taught at the University of Montevallo in Birmingham and Morehead State University, where he taught for five years.

Spiller said he is excited to perform the duties of director, and has thoroughly enjoyed his roughly 17 year tenure at WKU.

“I’ve alway been involved on the side, but now I get to make those decisions and just move forward,” Spiller said. “Teaching a class is one thing but now I get to know all the students and find ways to help them. So, absolutely, I’m excited.”

Administration reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected].