| By: ARLENE FINE Staff Reporter
|"We have to listen to students," says Myron Roomkin, new dean of Case's Weatherhead School of Management. |
Prior to coming here, he spent a productive six years, he says, as dean of the Kogod School of Business at American University.
Roomkin does not want to follow in the footsteps of a number of interim deans who briefly came and went after Scott Cowan, who held the position from 1984-1998 and left to become president of Tulane University. Mohsen Avnari was the last of these interim deans. His tenure was indelibly marked by the sniper attack at the business school's Peter B. Lewis Building in 2003, where one person was killed and two others were injured.
In the short term, Roomkin, a hands-on administrator, is zeroing in on getting to know his faculty's skills, team building and, when necessary, cleaning house.
"Due to the turnover in Weatherhead's leadership, it is time to make procedures more efficient," Roomkin noted in a recent interview. High on his "to-do" list is overhauling the current systems for estimating revenue, building a budget, and tracking performance.
"At the business school we must practice what we preach," says Roomkin. "I want to run this place like the best corporations in the world." He cites General Electric as an international leader and The Cleveland Clinic as a local example.
While embarking on his campaign to address internal inadequacies, Roomkin adds, "We must continue to earn and maintain our reputation as a top-rated, professional, innovative management school. MBA degrees and programs and undergraduate management degrees are the core of what we do. That gives Weatherhead brand recognition."
Developing a strong, viable partnership among the school's 1,200 students, faculty and staff is important to Roomkin. "I don't approve of educators who sit around like Mr. Chips and pontificate," he says. "Students must not be spectators in the learning process, but vital participants. We have to listen to them, involve them, and engender their excitement. That is how entrepreneurs and future business leaders are born."
Roomkin would like to see Weatherhead become a nexus connecting Northern Ohio firms seeking business opportunities abroad.
The headlines declaring the decline of Northeast Ohio as a vital industrial base have not gone unnoticed by the new Weatherhead dean. "When the Rust Belt declined in the early 1970's, the work force was told to retool from low-tech to high-tech jobs," he says. "They accomplished this with enormous effort. Now, with so many of these high-tech jobs being outsourced to foreign markets, the same work force and management is being told to retool again. That is where the challenges and problems arise."
Roomkin comes to his new position with impressive credentials. The author of four highly acclaimed business books, he holds master's and doctoral degrees in industrial relations from The University of Wisconsin. He served on the faculty of the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University from 1976-1998.
Currently, Roomkin and his wife Janice, an architect, are residents of Beachwood. They are shopping, he says, for a Conservative congregation. As a child, Roomkin was a professional choir boy who sang as an alto soloist at the East Romanian Shul on New York's East Side. Until age 13, he was planning a career as a cantor.
"It was at a selichot service after my bar mitzvah," he says. "Suddenly, to my horror and that of my family and friends, my voice cracked. That one moment signaled the end of my singing career."
Roomkin's second-choice career seems to be paying off. Weatherhead staff members are enthusiastic about his vision for their school. Betty Vandenbosch, associate dean of executive education programs who has been at the school for 12 years, calls her new dean a "Renaissance man."
"Myron has made such a difference regarding morale boosting and team building in the short time he has been here," says Vandenbosch. "After all we have been through, I certainly think we have hit the jackpot - our new dean is a keeper."
Copyright 2005 Cleveland Jewish News