New business dean engages students, faculty and community

July 1, 2013 at 9:58 am

If you ask Frank Rudisill to discuss his recent appointment as the dean of the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, he’ll immediately shift the attention elsewhere.

“To be honest, I’d rather focus on the work of our faculty,” Rudisill said. “My role is to help make them more efficient and effective in their roles as faculty members.”

However, Rudisill – who was named dean in April – admits that he is “the face of JCBE” to the outside world. To put it in his own words, it’s his job to “make sure that what we do is impactful in a positive way,” for students, faculty, staff, alumni, the business community and the greater Spartanburg area.

The Johnson College of Business and Economics is making an impact. Its students are among the nation’s best, scoring in the top 85th percentile on major-specific field tests. The majority of Johnson College of Business and Economics faculty holds terminal degrees in business and has held careers in business, which allows them to share practical business insight with students. The college is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), placing it among the world’s leading business schools.

Rudisill is also engaging some of the best local business leaders through a recently-formed, 15-person Leadership Advisory Council. And, the Johnson College is proceeding with its plan to soon open a business incubator on its third floor, providing more opportunity for businesses to interact with students and faculty.

Not too bad for a three year old. Affectionately known as “The George,” the 60,000-square-foot, $30 million Johnson College of Business and Economics opened in May 2010. A generous donation from entrepreneurial legend and visionary George Dean Johnson, Jr., in 2008 provided a namesake for the School of Business at USC Upstate. The college is now located on East St. John Street in downtown Spartanburg.

“Our location is strategic,” Rudisill said. “It provides opportunity for students and faculty to engage with the Spartanburg business community. It invites Spartanburg into our classrooms.”

Rudisill, started teaching at USC Upstate in 2002. A native of Lincolnton, N.C., Rudisill attended Appalachian State University where he was a self-described “wild and crazy math major.” He laughs, explaining more accurately that he was the classic introvert. He earned his master’s degree in math and statistics from Clemson University, and then accepted a job with Duke Power (now Duke Energy) as a statistician in the forecasting department.

After a few years, Rudisill returned to Clemson to earn his doctorate degree in management science. His dissertation focused on solar energy, which he said was not an economical option 30 years ago when his dissertation was written. Today, he remains fascinated with the nuances that continue to make solar energy more of a possibility.

A job offer with Milliken brought Rudisill to Spartanburg, where he worked as a manager in the operations research department. In 1988, he left Milliken and became a partner in a consulting firm and traveled the world. Rudisill eventually grew tired of the travel and became interested in an opportunity to teach. He accepted a position at USC Upstate in the School of Business. Since his hire, he has earned tenure and full professor status. In 2012, Rudisill was named interim dean of the college. He served in this role until assuming the responsibilities of the dean.

In the near future, Rudisill said the Johnson College of Business and Economics will offer a minor in Entrepreneurship. Outside of the classroom, students will continue to be prepared in practical ways. For example, students receive training in dinner etiquette; Rudisill also plans to invite local dance professionals to give lessons to students. The goal is to equip students academically and to prepare students for business culture.

Rudisill is excited about the burgeoning business landscape in and around Spartanburg.

“We’re at a good time here,” Rudisill said, mentioning the recent location of the Inland Port in Greer and BMW’s planned expansion in the area. “Spartanburg is becoming more distribution oriented. That means more jobs for the area.”

Rudisill said he wants to increase the opportunities for students to engage with the Upstate business community through more mentoring breakfasts, as well as expanded internship opportunities. Also, the ongoing Wells Fargo Speaker Series will continue to bring in regional speakers who are influential voices in business and entrepreneurship.

“I expect to keep doing what we’re doing, but to do more of it,” Rudisill said.

– Deneshia Smith