Q&A with Dr. Jackie Rees Ulmer, new College of Business dean
Ohio University College of Business Dean Jackie Rees Ulmer spent the past five years at Iowa State, where she took on various administrative roles. When she realized she wanted to become a dean, Iowa State was extremely supportive in helping her achieve that goal. They offered leadership development programs and other opportunities to gain knowledge and skills, and she had a supportive supervisor who helped her broaden her experience in several different academic roles.
She is thrilled to bring that experience and expertise to OHIO’s College of Business to help elevate it to the top business school in the state of Ohio.
Digital content intern Bri Schoepf (virtually) sat down with Dean Rees Ulmer to hear about her experience so far. Below, Dean Rees Ulmer explains how her first month went and what she hopes to accomplish in her first year.
Schoepf: How would you describe your first month with the College of Business?
Rees Ulmer: My first month has been fun, energizing and exciting! I have been getting to know faculty, staff and students from the college and also my fellow deans and administrators across the University. While it is disappointing to not meet in person, it has been very efficient to meet with everyone via Teams. This has allowed me to spend more time getting to know the people in the College of Business, as well as get better acquainted with the operations of the college as well as challenges and opportunities. That being said, I can’t wait to start meeting with everyone in person, especially our students and alumni!
Schoepf: What are you most excited about regarding your role as dean?
Rees Ulmer: I am most excited about spreading the message of the exciting things going on in the College of Business. We offer amazing experiences for our students, and our faculty are absolutely committed to student success. I also am looking forward to further enhancing and extending these experiential opportunities to more students in the University.
Schoepf: What challenges is the college currently facing? How are you overcoming them?
Rees Ulmer: Like most business schools, we need to work even harder to be more inclusive to all learners who are seeking out the experiences and education that we offer. Some of this is continuing to work on our culture, so that all feel welcomed in our classes, student organizations, and opportunities. Some of this is continuing to expand our scholarship support, so that financial stresses are reduced for those wanting to participate in study abroad/away and/or trips to visit other cities, companies and alumni. We also need to continue to hire and retain diverse faculty and staff, so that learners have a broader set of role models. We have a dedicated group of faculty, staff and alumni who are working on creating plans for strategically addressing these issues. The University has also changed how search committees are trained and staffed in order to further this goal campus-wide, and the College of Business is excited to embrace this change. Other actions are in the works, so stay tuned!
I also want to continue our culture of innovation in academic offerings, to both undergraduates and to those who need and want to continue learning throughout their careers. This is an on-going partnership with department chairs, program directors, alumni, deans across campus and other partners.
Schoepf: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year?
Rees Ulmer: This is a great question! As we move towards a “new normal” by better managing the risk posed by COVID-19, I want to work with the leadership team on planning for ways to bring us all back together as a community of learners, dreamers and builders. I also want to continue to build the resource base needed to maintain and expand this community. I also want to make sure that we maintain the positives that occurred as a result of the pandemic. We have learned that technology can allow us to work differently and much more flexibly. For example, the ability for people to work from home can make juggling responsibilities a bit easier on working parents or for our faculty and staff that may have other caregiving responsibilities, such as looking after elderly family members. We have also learned that we can stay better connected to our alumni and friends of the college. I want to make sure that we preserve those positives.
Schoepf: How would you describe your leadership style?
Rees Ulmer: I would describe my leadership style as very collaborative. I seek to gather input from stakeholders to the extent possible. I see leadership as helping others work together to reach their full potential, and that is what I hope to do for the College of Business.
Schoepf: How do you hope to positively impact the school, students and faculty, in your new role?
Rees Ulmer: I hope to further the College of Business as being the most welcoming and inclusive College of Business in the state of Ohio and the region. I want students, faculty and staff to feel like this is their home, where they will be respected, appreciated and challenged to grow as professionals, as well as people. I want the College of Business to be top of mind when prospective students, as well as working professionals, think of how to better develop educationally.
Schoepf: Can you tell me more about how you got to where you are today?
Rees Ulmer: I earned my undergraduate degree in business, specifically information systems, from the University of Florida. I worked for a while as a programmer/analyst in South Florida and realized that I wanted to go to graduate school. I went back and earned my Ph.D. in information systems, again from the University of Florida. I spent quite a bit of time at Purdue University, being a faculty member and working on research in machine learning and cybersecurity. I spent the previous five years at Iowa State, where I took on various administrative roles, with the goal of elevating the research and teaching profile of supply chain and information systems, and promoting the Ivy College of Business as the destination for business education and research within the state of Iowa.
Schoepf: What do you like to do in your free time?
Rees Ulmer: Pre-pandemic, I enjoyed traveling with my family and I can’t wait for that to become “normal” again. We have been exploring the area when the weather is good and trying new restaurants, etc. We also spend time with our dogs.
Schoepf: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Rees Ulmer: I just want to say thank you to everyone for being so welcoming, and I can’t wait to see everyone in person!