The University of Kansas named a new School of Business dean on Friday, and she will begin at KU on July 1.
The new dean is L. Paige Fields, currently dean of business at Trinity University in San Antonio, where she has worked since 2012 and held the position of dean since 2015. Previously, she was at Texas A&M; University from 1994 to 2012.
“I am really excited about this opportunity,” Fields said Friday. “I don’t know how many times I can say excited.”
Her first orders of business at KU will include getting to know people at the university, including discussions with the dean’s advisory board, Fields said.
Her other initial goals include building on some of KU’s existing strengths.
“I’m also really looking forward to enhancing some programs you already have, like the study abroad program, continuing growth in enrollment ... and really getting some support for faculty, particularly looking into ways to make market adjustments for people who are at senior ranks,” Fields said.
Previous KU School of Business dean Neeli Bendapudi left the position a year ago to become KU’s provost and executive vice chancellor.
KU conducted a national search for a new business dean, and three finalists gave campus presentations in late April and early May. R. William Funk & Associates was used as a consultant for the dean search.
In her April campus presentation, Fields highlighted ideas including networking with business alumni both to help enhance the student experience and to keep alumni connected and committed to the school.
She reiterated that concept Friday.
Fields said she liked the idea of bringing alumni back to campus for a designated day or week and getting them in classrooms with students. One such program at Trinity featured panel discussions with alumni working in a certain category of industry — in Texas, she said, oil and gas was one example. That was well-received, she said.
“The main way that people really start to feel engaged with a university is when they start to come back and give back to the students,” she said. “So it’s not just meeting with me ... it really is the students that move alumni, I think.”
Prior to becoming dean at Trinity, Fields, a professor of business administration, served as chair of the finance and decision sciences department and internal affairs coordinator for research, budget and placement.
Fields has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in business administration from the University of South Carolina.
Fields’ husband, Michael Wilkins, a professor of accounting at Trinity, will join her at KU, according to KU’s announcement.
The KU School of Business has more than 110 faculty and staff members, more than 2,200 students and an operating budget of $25 million. In May 2016, the school moved into Capitol Federal Hall, a new $70.5 million facility constructed almost entirely with private donations and designed for student collaboration and connection with industry professionals.
Provost Bendapudi, in KU’s announcement, said she was excited for Fields to join the KU faculty as dean of business.
“Dr. Fields has proven leadership skills that will continue the upward trajectory of the school and build important partnerships within the university as well as the across the state of Kansas and in the Kansas City region,” Bendapudi said.