Va. Tech business school dean retires, interim named
Roberta "Robin" S. Russell to serve during national search
Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business has named Roberta “Robin” S. Russell as its interim dean, effective July 1.
Russell, who heads Pamplin’s Department of Business Information Technology, succeeds Robert Sumichrast, who has retired. Russell will serve while the college conducts an international search for a new dean.
In May, Tech hosted in-person and virtual forums with three finalists for the position, including Mark Ferguson, senior associate dean for academics and research at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business; Anthony Ross, associate dean for research and doctoral programs at the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business; and Lara Khansa, Pamplin’s associate dean for undergraduate research. A fourth candidate, Brian Butler, senior associate dean at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, withdrew his name from consideration.
Ferguson told Virginia Business in an email Wednesday that he had not heard “directly” from Tech since interviewing with the university but had seen the news about the interim hire on its website and assumed it meant the search would continue. Butler wrote in an email that he accepted an offer from the University of Alabama to lead its College of Communication and Information Sciences.
David Geurin, a spokesperson for Tech, said in an email that the search remains in progress and a finalist hasn’t been selected. Geurin declined to comment on the status of specific candidates but said the university hopes to conclude its search for a permanent business school dean by the end of this year.
Russell joined Virginia Tech as an assistant professor in 1983 and has headed the business IT department since 2017, according to a news release. Her research and teaching focuses on operations and supply chain management, service operations and security, privacy and trust. She also examines issues in quality in supply chain management with an emphasis on humanitarian and health care operations.
Russell earned her Ph.D. and bachelor’s of science degrees from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Old Dominion University. She has also earned certifications from the Association for Supply Chain Management in production and inventory management, and she is a certified supply chain professional. A past president of the Southwest Virginia chapter of American Production and Inventory Control Society and the APICS Foundation, Russell has been honored by Pamplin for excellence in teaching as well as for her efforts to build diversity. In 2016, she received the Gryna Award from the American Society for Quality for her research in health care quality.
“Through her collaborative work in the Pamplin College of Business and with faculty and department heads across the campus, Robin has earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues and is well-positioned to effectively lead the college during this transition,” Tech Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke said in a statement. “Her knowledge of and contributions to Pamplin’s strategic priorities and how those priorities advance the university’s strategic vision for the future is critically important. Robin has my full confidence and support, and I look forward to having her as part of my leadership team.”