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.

Business students working in a computer lab before 1985

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 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 renamed the Jackson-Rainey Business Plan Competition, thanks to the financial support of Alumnus Wayne Jackson and Don Rainey.

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 to work collaboratively with all CoB stakeholders to develop a new strategic plan and refine the College’s mission, vision and values statements. Other current initiatives include reviewing the curriculum, launching a new concentration for the MBA Program in Northern Virginia, and working with architects to develop plans for a new College of Business building.  

Dr. Michael Busing took over as dean in 2018.

In the summer of 2020, the first phase of the long-planned Learning Complex was completed with the opening of a newly constructed building adjacent to Zane Showker Hall. Once the renovation of Showker is complete in mid-2021, the two conjoined buildings will comprise the 210,000 square feet of the new Learning Complex, a state-of-art facility to house the College of Business as it moves into its fifth decade of high impact business education.

Back to Top