(A Q&A with Dean Capener follows this story)
Jacksonville University’s new Dean of the Davis College of Business is on board, and he’s not shy about helping bring the school’s program – and with it Northeast Florida’s commerce – to the next level.
Today’s higher education isn’t just about “holding steady” and getting students ready for their first job, said Dr. Don Capener, whose tenure began July 1. It’s about looking beyond that and preparing them for their first promotion.
In the same way, JU’s business programs can help the River City move from the status quo to its own next level: from a regional business center to a national and even global one.
“We’ve got vibrant ports, international connections, financial operations … I’m impressed with some of the local businesses and organizations I’ve come in contact with,” he said. “It feels on par with much bigger cities I’ve lived in, and I don’t think it’s always considered by others to be in that league. There’s real opportunity to take it from a regional center to the next level, and we want to be a catalyst for that.”
JU’s leadership is just as excited to have Capener on board as he is to get to work.
“He’s a proven business leader and accomplished higher-education administrator,” said JU President Kerry Romesburg. “With our hard-won international accreditation for the college, the DCOB will surely expand on its great successes with his leadership skills and marketplace savvy.”
Capener comes to JU from Monmouth College in Illinois, where he was a key member of its Political Economy and Commerce department for the past decade and more recently was vice president for strategic planning and chief marketing officer. Prior to his work at Monmouth, he was a senior vice president and director of client services for Euro RSCG 4D (formerly Blau) in Chicago and San Francisco, and a vice president with Leo Burnett/Frankel on its Visa advertising account.
A successful entrepreneur who founded Above the Rim, an athletic apparel company that was later sold to Reebok in 1993, Capener brings real-world experience to the DCOB. Having lived and worked in Japan, he also brings a broad network of international knowledge and contacts to his new role.
Capener was the chief marketing officer for Netcentives in Silicon Valley, and his contacts and experience helped that company go public via NASDAQ. He earned a Doctor of International Management from the International School of Management in Paris, France, in 2011. His Master of Business Administration is from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, and his bachelor’s degree is from Brigham Young University.
At JU, getting out into the community more to help businesspeople face current and future challenges is high on his agenda, as is championing JU faculty and staff and growing the school’s MBA program for the next generation of managers and entrepreneurs in North Florida.
“We can help each other,” he said. “We can help address the challenges and issues related to taking a family business up to a world-class organization, for example, and we’ll be doing more outreach than in past. On the flipside, having local business leaders and entrepreneurs here to speak or to be in residence for short-term assignments or leadership seminars will help our students grow into the future professionals the Jacksonville area needs.”
Capener succeeds Dr. William Crosby, professor of accounting and 2012 JU Professor of the Year, who served as interim dean of the Davis College of Business for the last two years. Crosby is now Dean of the new JU College of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies.
DON CAPENER Q&A
New Davis College of Business Dean Don Capener answered several questions about his new role at Jacksonville University:
What attracted you to the position at the Davis College of Business (DCOB)?
It is a great opportunity and challenge. I am committed to growing the JU brand and expanding the international reach of the DCOB. Thirty years ago, the DCOB leadership developed an excellent Flex/Evening MBA program and attracted some of Jacksonville’s best and brightest aspiring business leaders. The challenge is to gain more awareness, grow the day/accelerated MBA program while remaining attractive and relevant to the rising generation of managers and entrepreneurs in Northern Florida.
What do you mean by attractive and relevant?
It means adapting our program to the needs and aspirations of today’s business leaders. We must provide a program that is flexible enough to fit with the demands of today’s adult learner, yet relevant enough to qualify one for the next promotion. Today we use Google for searches and Microsoft Office for many business-oriented tasks. What happens when the software changes to voice-activated translations or the current tax code goes away? Who can readily adapt to these changes and make lemonade from the lemons of market change and ambiguity?
As we prepare our graduates to solve complex problems, they will be ready and able to take advantage of opportunities unknown to all of us today. For example, if you asked someone if Apple would be the dominant music entertainment company 20 years ago, Hollywood would have laughed. No one is laughing today. With the explosion of iPhones, iPads, Apple TV and iTunes, Apple is on the verge of becoming what Hollywood was in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Our graduates will be prepared to start and lead the companies of tomorrow.
How do you measure the success of an MBA program?
One way is to look at access to internships, speakers, alumni and one-on-one faculty interaction, and there is ample evidence JU succeeds in that regard, with the many corporate and civic leaders who attribute their success to our program.
Another is to look at the quality of the individual faculty and its curriculum. It’s why accreditation matters. At DCOB we maintain the highest accreditation with the Association of American Colleges & Schools of Business (AACSB). AACSB is the gold standard in a business education. Only 15 percent of American business programs are AACSB accredited, and the DCOB is in that elite group.
Another is to look at the investment a school offers on a per-student basis, by measuring such things as access to leadership opportunities, internships, alumni mentors and PhD-credentialed faculty-to-student ratio. We are unmatched in that regard in the Southeast.
What makes being the Dean at the Davis School such a great challenge?
I am excited to offer a long-term commitment to building the program and mentoring future leaders. Business education is a mature product, with many competitive evening and online programs. Despite the growing competition, we can become the best program in the region as we meet the challenges of continuous improvement and innovation. I commit to get out into the business community and learn about the current problems and challenges facing businesses leaders and entrepreneurs today. As Dean, I am committed to adapting our product and curriculum as necessary to meet the needs of these employers and the communities we serve.
What is your definition of success?
At DCOB, we want our brand to become synonymous with premium access. In order to obtain the “gold seal” of business confidence with the Jacksonville community, we will measure success in the number of referrals we receive. The more referrals we receive, the more we know we are doing something right at DCOB. It is our desire as part of the JU community to do more than survive. We want to prosper and thrive. We see a bright future, with a 50 percent increase in enrollment in the day/accelerated MBA program by fall 2014.
At the end of the day, it’s not just about numbers. We celebrate and support our students’ yearnings to prosper and make a difference. That is what motivates our faculty and staff to go beyond what is expected. It is not easy to win at business, but with the help of great teachers and mentors, your odds improve dramatically.