New leaders take the helm


by David Doremus

Pictured above from left to right: Rhonda Syler, Nicole Wright, John Kruggel and Charlene Kalenkoski.

SUMMARY: Fall term brings changing of the guard for two departments.

With the impending start of a new academic year, JMU's College of Business welcomes two new academic unit heads.

Leading the Department of Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics will be Rhonda Syler. She succeeds professor emeritus Pamela Drake, who held the position for an interim year pending her retirement.


Syler brings to JMU more than 19 years of experience in teaching, planning and program development, most recently as an associate professor in the Department of Information Systems at the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business, and coordinator of its cybersecurity and data-management programs. Her credentials also list 15-plus years of industry experience in information systems.

Syler views her service at an R1 institution and frequent interaction and collaboration with internationally recognized scholars as qualifications that will be helpful in elevating the profile of CIS/BSAN's research faculty.

She has been active in building partnerships with prominent industry players such as SAS, Tableau, SAP, Tyson, CSC, CenturyLink, IBM and Teradata. These initiatives are indicative of her strong commitment to bringing cutting-edge tools and techniques into classrooms, in order to further capture and engage student interest and skill development.

Syler's Ph.D. in Management Information Systems was conferred by Auburn University in 2003. She also holds degrees from Columbus State University, Kansas State University and Middle Tennessee State University.

Her recreational interests include gardening, hiking and instrumental music. She plays both trumpet and French horn.

The College of Business also greets the arrival this fall of Charlene Kalenkoski, newly appointed AUH for the Department of Economics. She takes over for William Wood, who stepped down after more than three decades at JMU.


Kalenkoski comes to JMU after nine years at Texas Tech University, where most recently she served as a professor in the School of Financial Planning and director of the Ph.D. program in Personal Financial Planning. Earlier in her career, she was for 11 years a member of the Economics faculty at Ohio University.

She holds degrees in Economics from the George Washington University at the doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate levels, and is a certified financial planner.

Kalenkoski has taught economics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Course topics have included microeconomic theory, labor economics, household and family economics, applied industrial organization, quantitative research methods and research writing and presentation.

She has also been heavily involved in the mentoring and supervision of students. As director of the Ph.D. Program in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech and a member of the School of Financial Planning’s executive committee, she implemented changes to improve the quantity and quality of course offerings, designed and implemented improvements to students’ degree plans, and increased the number and quality of students through recruitment efforts.

The College of Business is also pleased to announce a pair of promotions.

Nicole Wright, assistant professor of Accounting and Cherry Bekaert Faculty Scholar, has been named director of the M.S. in Accounting program. She takes the reins from Nancy Nichols, who has retired after 25 years at JMU. nicole_wright_310x200.jpeg

As an instructor in the program, Wright has taught an advanced auditing class and several others. In 2019, she received the Kenneth R. Bartee Award for Teaching Innovation.

john_kruggel_310x200.jpegMeanwhile, John Kruggel has been elevated to director of the Center for Economic Education. Kruggel previously served for four years in the role of associate program director. Kruggel now succeeds William Wood, professor emeritus of economics and the department’s former academic unit head, who has stepped down after more than 30 years as the center's director.

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Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Last Updated: Monday, January 8, 2024

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