A visionary and strategic college dean committed to educational excellence is one of the most important aspects of college education. The dean is responsible to look after the academic programs and thus guarantee the quality of education is maintained at all costs. Because after all, to ready the future generation of economists, industrialists, businesspersons is not an easy task.
Featuring for the Cover Story of The Enterprise World’s Top 5 Influential Women To Watch In 2022 is Dr. Deborah Crown, dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.
Dr. Crown’s Successful Journey
Dr. Crown has held leadership positions in business schools for more than twenty years, while also holding academic chairs in strategic leadership for much of her tenure. During her tenure at Rollins College, the school has been ranked the #1 MBA in Florida by Forbes Magazine and #1 in the country for leadership for four years in a row by HR.com. In addition to overseeing the School’s successful re-accreditation process through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International—a distinction earned by less than five percent of the world’s business schools—Deborah also led the development and implementation of a new strategic plan for Crummer.
Before joining as the dean of Rollins College, Dr. Crown was the dean of the largest private University’s College of Business in Hawaii. She also led the Lucas Graduate School of Business and was a Lucas Endowed Professor of Strategic Leadership at San Jose State University. Dr. Crown’s previous experience also includes serving as the director of graduate programs as well as the faculty director of the Appalachian Regional Entrepreneurial Group in the College of Business and the Voinovich School for Leadership & Public Affairs respectively, both at Ohio University.
Prior to this, Dr. Crown spent 13 years at the University of Alabama where she was the Miles-Rose Professor of Leadership and Ph.D. Coordinator for Management. Additionally, her research on long-term performance, conducted first in football, basketball and baseball has led to performance gains in other industry sectors. Deborah’s primary research interests include leadership, performance issues, with special attention to international and multicultural environments, organizational work teams, professional and collegiate sport teams, and ethics and social responsibility.
Her work has been featured in national press publications such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC National News, the New York Times, USA Weekend, Entrepreneur, as well as academic journals and books. She is also the recipient of a number of national awards for her research, as well as university and college awards for her teaching, mentoring, and service. She received her Ph.D. from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, a Master of Science from the University of Colorado, Denver, and Executive Education at Harvard.
As business schools across the world quickly evolve to meet the expectations of a new, tech-savvy, collaboration-oriented, and community engaged student population in an increasingly competitive marketplace, Crummer’s ability to match modern offerings at other schools is absolutely essential in securing the long-term success of the School and delivering on its mission.
“Working in partnership with other units at Rollins College, we are focused on raising funds for a new Crummer building—part of the Rollins Innovation Triangle project.”
This new Crummer Executive and Entrepreneurial Center is key to retaining and building upon Crummer’s reputation for cutting-edge instruction, and it will enable the Crummer Graduate School of Business to expand its relationships with the business community in new and innovative ways. Located adjacent to an expanded Alfond Inn and a new Rollins College Fine Art Museum, the facility will help deliver their mission by attracting professionals to Winter Park from around the world, providing learners with the tools and instruction necessary to compete in tomorrow’s business environment, and acting as a hub not just for Rollins College and Winter Park, but also for the wider Central Florida business community.
About Rollins College
Founded in 1885, Rollins College is a comprehensive college and nationally recognized leader in liberal arts education. The College defines its mission around two distinct pillars – educating students for global citizenship and responsible leadership – and holds excellence, innovation, and community as guiding principles.
Rollins College’s commitment to innovation and excellence led to the creation of the Crummer School’s predecessor in 1957. The Crummer Graduate School of Business, as it exists today, was founded in 1980, when the School made the decision to enroll only master’s-level students in both its full- and part-time programs. In Fall 2013, the School expanded its programs to the doctoral level with the launch of its Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) program.
“All Crummer’s programs are fully accredited by AACSB, the preeminent accreditation distinction awarded to only five percent of the world’s business schools.”
An Exceptional Team
“We have exceptional faculty and staff members here at Crummer who are all uniquely committed to providing a highly personal and collaborative experience for our students.”
For the faculty, that means thinking of the entire lifecycle of a learner, from prospective learner outreach through alumni engagement. To do that well, it is necessary to have employees who work together cohesively as a team, and the professionals at Crummer do that day in and day out.
Paving Her Way to Become the Dean
“When I first arrived, I became aware that one thing we could do to better deliver on our mission would be to increase, enhance, and encourage greater collaboration among our professional staff.”
The institute had many units doing incredible work, but doing so within their own units, which resulted in communication challenges and missed opportunities. They quickly moved to better integrate the staff, starting with the centralization of their marketing efforts so that the team would make sure that they were singularly focused on communicating their mission.
Second, Dr. Crown and her team integrated all the student-facing groups into a singular cluster to optimize resources and ensure a seamless student experience. Finally, they aligned their external-facing centers and groups to ensure they were best serving all the external clients, including executive learners, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and Crummer’s extensive alumni network.
“Our vision has remained consistent through the years. We strive to be recognized as a world-class graduate business school.”
Crummer Rollins College is renowned for its excellence in preparing global, innovative and responsible business leaders. And they expect them to positively impact their organizations, and also their communities.
“Since I joined Crummer close to six years ago, we have recommitted ourselves to that vision and mission to ensure we are providing the best education possible while also creating a mission-driven financial model that enables us to better focus on delivering on our vision and mission.”
The Road Ahead
Crummer is a boutique business school by design. Crummer offers its students and clientele a personal, concierge environment that they won’t find at larger business schools. Its smaller class sizes and cohort structure translates into highly collaborative educational experience. The business school also hires experienced, professional faculty who are first and foremost great instructors who are all committed to the Crummer mission to produce global, responsible, and innovative business leaders who impact their organizations and communities.
“They are also fully committed to providing students with the personalized, collaborative experience for which Crummer is known.”
The Changing Form of Entrepreneurship
The pandemic brought an unprecedented period of change to the workplace. Everyone had to quickly adapt to life in a virtual environment. Having been forced to offer remote work alternatives for employees during the pandemic, many jobs have now gone remote permanently, while other jobs have returned to in-person roles. This mixed-mode environment is not only something for Crummer to be aware of and adapt to; it is also essential that they are providing an educational experience that mirrors the workplace and prepares their graduates to excel in mixed-mode environments.
“At the same time, these changes are providing enormous new opportunities for entrepreneurs.”
There has been increased entrepreneurial activity in Central Florida, and there also has been increased interest in funding these efforts. The institute’s own annual Crummer Venture Plan Competition is the region’s largest and most comprehensive annual business plan competition. This past year, they have partnered with Orange County to significantly increase their prize package.
“Our first-place winners, Ostrich, received a $50,000 grand prize. This kind of support is essential to making sure the Orlando area is at the forefront of entrepreneurship.”
Dr. Crown’s Message to the Budding Entrepreneurs
“Entrepreneurs need to be experts in all areas of business, which can be overwhelming as individuals work tirelessly to launch their ventures. It’s important for entrepreneurs to leverage connections with other entrepreneurs as well as opportunities for further education and training.
With our extensive and highly engaged alumni community, as well as our expertise, the Crummer School can be an invaluable resource for regional entrepreneurs,” said Dean Crown. “Our Crummer Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship provides resources and support to help guide entrepreneurs. And many entrepreneurs choose to enroll in one of our MBA programs, as we provide unmatched educational opportunities specifically tailored to the entrepreneurial community.”