Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the David F. Rankin College of Business, said she has settled in well to her new position at Southern Arkansas University and looks forward to “getting the word” out about programs offered by the College.
“It’s been a perfect fit,” she said of joining the University. “The faculty and staff have been so friendly. I spent the summer learning what the faculty is thinking about for the future and have met with people from many departments across campus to get a feel for SAU and the Rankin College. I have heard so many positive things.”
Sronce said the faculty is very connected to each other and to their students. “I’ve seen a lot of the good work that is going on in the different programs.”
Sronce came to SAU from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where she served as dean of the Breech School of Business and associate professor of management. She replaces Dr. Lisa Toms, who accepted the position of dean at Arkansas Tech.
Sronce received her doctor of philosophy degree in Business Administration in 2003 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she also earned her MBA in 1997. She received her BA at Drury, majoring in business administration and sociology and minoring in economics.
Entering her third month at SAU, Sronce said she looks forward to working with Dr. Rankin to re-start the Business Advisory Council for upper-level executives and alums of SAU. She also wants to work with recent alums and looks to start an Emerging Leader Council for that group of supporters. She hopes that both panels will “give us their advice about programs, spread the word about the strength of our graduates and have opportunities to mentor students.”
Creating more engagement opportunities for students is also a priority. “I have learned more about the Arkansas Small Business Development and Technology Center, which is located on our campus. It not only supports the community but helps our faculty find companies for collaboration on class projects. I’m excited about that and we will continue to expand on it.”
She has “taken to heart the idea” that SAU is teaching future business leaders for this region and beyond. “I really do want our students to have experiences beyond this region. A lot of our engagement projects are in Magnolia and Columbia County. We want to continue that work and at the same time find ways for our students to travel and expand their horizons.”
She praised the MBA program and said a degree from SAU gives graduates “a great starting point on a career or a way to enhance opportunities for those in mid-career.”
“Economic mobility is so important,” she said. “We deliver an excellent product at an affordable price. A business degree will start our graduates at a higher starting point salary-wise than working their way up without it.”
Sronce stressed collaboration in expressing a vision for the College and said faculty committees are focusing on marketing, recruitment and retention this fall. “We want to recruit more students and make sure we are supporting them when they get here,” she said.
Accreditation is another focal point for Sronce. “It’s important for us, for all the faculty, to make sure we have everything in place and are ready as we deal with the ongoing review process. Accreditation is always challenging for smaller schools, and we want to make sure we are meeting and exceeding the standards.”
She said she was excited to be present for the naming of the former Business Building as Blanchard Hall, after Martha and Louis Blanchard of Magnolia. “It showed me how much support there as in the community for the people involved and SAU,” she said. “Mr. Blanchard has a lot of friends and community support. He stopped by and welcomed me soon after I started here. It is wonderful to see the ongoing commitment to the College from former faculty and alums.”
She said Dr. David Rankin, former president of SAU, has given her advice and support.
Sronce said she will also begin teaching in the spring semester. “It’s important to still have those connections with students in the classroom. I enjoy teaching, it’s hard to give that up, but in this capacity, I can handle the administrative work and help make it possible for our faculty to make the magic happen in the classroom.”