When Dr. Javier Reyes officially becomes the Milan Puskar Dean of the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University next week, a new chapter in the history of the business school will start. And Reyes is beaming about the opportunity.
Reyes comes to WVU from the University of Arkansas, where he simultaneously served in high ranking positions: as vice provost, and as associate dean and a tenured economics professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. He had served at the University of Arkansas since 2003 in a number of administrative roles, including as director of the Walton College’s honors program.
“I was named the new dean on January 29 and, since that time, life has been going at warp speed,” laughed Reyes. “I have made several trips to Morgantown since early February, ranging from meetings with our faculty and staff to meeting with alumni, donors and our B&E Visiting Committee. And I was also working full time at the University of Arkansas to fulfill my duties there. Add to that the work to get my family moved to Morgantown and it’s been quite exciting over the past few months.”
B&E’s new dean said he wanted to make the most of the months leading up to his official start date to get to know the landscape at the business school through the people who make it hum — alumni, donors, friends of the college and, of course, faculty and staff. He also took the opportunity to interact with business students during the last few months of the spring semester.
“There are a lot of moving parts to our business school, as you might imagine,” he said. “My plan is to continue getting to know these important groups of people who are critical to who we are today, but also to our success going forward.”
Reyes has learned to work in many different areas, and is no stranger to success. An expert in global economic matters, he is an award-winning educator, an innovative leader in learning technologies, and an experienced relationship builder between industry and academics. In 2008, the University of Arkansas awarded him the Faculty Gold Medal Award for excellence in supporting undergraduate students and their research. In 2009, he was named the All-Around Faculty Member in the Walton College of Business for excellence in research, teaching and service among all his peers at the business school. He was also inducted into the Teaching Academy of the University of Arkansas in 2012.
He managed the successful expansion of undergraduate enrollment at the Walton College, growing the program by more than 2,000 students. Reyes has experience in investment banking and has been a visiting scholar at several international institutions. He has also served as grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation and as an invited academic scholar for the International Monetary Fund.
He has been laser-focused since the announcement of his appointment. For example, earlier this month he attended the Who’s Who in West Virginia Business luncheon in Charleston. The next day, he was in Washington, D.C., for the 38th Annual WVU Alumni Luncheon on Capitol Hill.
And while it is premature to ask him about any kind of formal plan yet, he did mention a sweet spot at B&E that is near and dear to him as well: experiential learning.
“I’m a huge fan of the ‘learning by doing’ philosophy,” said Reyes. “I was very happy to see that there were so many people at B&E and connected to our college who subscribed to that same philosophy. I really believe in it, and I believe learning outside of the classroom is just as integral to the student experience as learning inside the classroom. There have never been more opportunities for experiential learning at B&E than there are right now, and we plan to grow in that area.
“One of the main topics of discussion I have had with all of the groups I have spoken with thus far is that providing unique and valuable experiential learning gives us a real opportunity to differentiate ourselves by doing things differently,” he said. “I have used the term ‘doing things differently’ a lot, and it’s something we’re going to continue to use at B&E.”
He was also grateful for the work of Nancy McIntyre, who served as interim dean at B&E during the past year. “I want to thank Nancy for all she did to keep B&E moving for the last year, and for helping me as I get familiarized with WVU.”
In the meantime, B&E has a new dean who is excited, eager and willing to take the business school to new heights.