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New Dean Brings Entrepreneurial Flair to RMU

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University has selected for its dean of the School of Business an academic entrepreneur – and no, that is not an oxymoron.

John Beehler took the reins of the RMU School of Business in January, after serving as the founding provost and vice president for academic excellence and student success at the University of North Texas at Dallas, the first public university operating within the city’s borders. Beehler also served as founding vice president for research, economic development, and public engagement.

The University of North Texas at Dallas was launched in 2000 as an extension campus of the University of North Texas, and in 2010 became an independent institution, with a brand-new campus, serving Dallas’ long-neglected southern neighborhoods.

Starting a university from scratch is a rare experience that Beehler says he plans to put to good use at Robert Morris. At UNT-Dallas he served on the Commission on Building the University of the 21st Century alongside business and civic leaders including Dallas Mavericks owner and Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban. The commission studied the most innovative ways to deliver higher education.

RMUbeehlermug“Technology has to play a major role. The wave of the future is blended and hybrid learning. What works best in the classroom and what works best online?” said Beehler.

Robert Morris is a homecoming of sorts for Beehler, who grew up in the Poconos and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at Penn State. That was where he met his wife, Pamela, a Washington, Pa., native. Beehler is a certified public accountant who went on to earn an MBA in finance and taxation and a Ph.D. in accounting and taxation from Indiana University.

“What was appealing about Robert Morris was its heritage and history in accounting and business. It’s a natural fit,” said Beehler.

Beehler counts among RMU’s strengths a solid alumni base, its technology infused business school building, and its Student Engagement Program – which is encapsulated in the Student Engagement Transcript, an official university transcript that documents students’ learning outside the classroom.

“I’ve always been interested in universities with a high level of student engagement and public engagement,” said Beehler. “The more engaged you are with your community, the better you are as a university.”

Beehler previously served as the dean of the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University and as dean of the Barton School of Business at Wichita State University.

At RMU, Beehler succeeds Derya Jacobs as dean of the School of Business. Jacobs is now the university’s vice provost for research and graduate education, and during her tenure as dean oversaw construction of the business school building and accreditation by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In 2009, the RMU School of Business became one of only 650 institutions worldwide to achieve this prestigious designation.

Jacobs served as dean from 2004 to 2011, and Patrick Litzinger, head of the Department of Economics and Legal Studies, was interim dean for a year before Beehler came on board last month.

“Dr. Beehler is a great match for RMU. He epitomizes our teacher-scholar model, which emphasizes industry experience and research that complements teaching,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo.

“At the same time, John’s emphasis on technology and entrepreneurship will add a new dimension to our School of Business, helping to prepare our students for an increasingly globalized and rapidly shifting economy.”

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.