The College of Business (CoB) was established in 1972. Initially, the college was known as the School of Business.  It evolved from the College of Social Studies, which included typing, shorthand and accounting.

Dr. Billy Hinton, the first dean of the college, began to transition the program into a true School of Business.  He was dean of the Social Studies Department before moving to the College of Business. Hinton was dean until 1974.

Dr. William Hanlon was the second dean, and served in that role from1974 to 1982. His primary focus was earning Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation for the CoB, which was accomplished in the spring of 1982. Hanlon knew accreditation was necessary to move the college to the next level, which would help the school attract and retain quality faculty.

Dr. Paul Kipps stepped in as interim dean from 1982-83.

Dr. Robert Holmes led the CoB from 1983 to 1995. He started the Executive Advisory Council in 1985 to ensure that the CoB established and maintained positive relationships with industry leaders. Holmes oversaw the construction of the new business building, Zane Showker Hall, which was finished in 1991, and was partially funded by local businessman Zane Showker. Prior to that, the business classes and faculty were spread all over campus.

Dr. Ford, Zane Showker, Dr. Holmes

Holmes hired about 80 new faculty during his tenure.  In 1985, the School of Accounting was created, and it was accredited by AACSB.

Also during Holmes’s tenure many centers, endowed professorships and chairs were established and funded. Zane Showker provided funding to create the Center For Entrepreneurship, as well as the Center for Economic Education. Holmes also started the Student Advisory Council, which was initially comprised of the heads of student organizations.

Kipps again served as interim dean from 1995-96.

In 1996, Dr. Robert Reid took over as dean, and stayed in that position until 2011. He concentrated on enhancing the reputation of the college with recruiters. He also turned his attention to developing a fundraising strategy for the college.

Reid introduced the 12-credit integrated course COB 300 as a pilot for the 1998-97 and 1997-98 school

Business students working in a computer lab before 1985

 years; it was required in the fall of 1998. The business plan competition component of COB 300 was added in 2003. In 2014, the competition was retitled the "Jackson-Rainey Business Plan Competition," and in 2023 as the "Rainey-Shepard Business Plan Competition." These titles were adopted to acknowledge the financial contributions of alumni Don Rainey ('82), Wayne Jackson ('85) and Russell "Rusty" Shepard ('86).

Dr. Irvine “Bud” Clarke took over as interim dean in 2011, and continued in that role until 2013. During Clarke’s tenure, the JMU Board of Visitors approved differential tuition for the CoB.

In 2013, Dr. Mary Gowan took the reins as dean of the college. One of her first initiatives was the launch of a collaborative effort among all stakeholders to develop a new strategic plan and refine the college’s mission, vision and values statements. Other projects included a review of the curriculum, the announcement of a new concentration for the MBA program in Northern Virginia, and consultation with architects to develop plans for new facilities. 

Dr. Michael Busing took over as dean in 2018. Prominent among the accomplishments of his tenure to-date has been the construction of Hartman Hall—the new building adjacent to Showker Hall that, at the time of its completion in the summer of 2020, represented the first phase of a state-of-the-art Learning Complex.

When the renovation of Showker was finished in mid-2021, the conjoined buildings became the college’s spacious, beautifully appointed new home as it embarked on a fifth decade of high-impact business education.

College of Business Deans
Billy Hinton (1972-1974)
William Hanlon (1974-1982)
Paul Kipps (Interim, 1982-1983 and 1995-1996)
Robert Holmes (1983-1995)
Robert Reid (1996-2011)
Irvine "Bud" Clarke (Interim, 2011-2013)
Mary Gowan (2015-2018)
Michael Busing (2018-present)

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