More than "Business as Usual"

The School of Management’s new dean Kenneth Rhee believes in the human factor.

by Joanie Eppinga and Eamonn Neff

Ken Rhee

Money and technology are significant factors in business—but they’re not the most important things, according to Kenneth Rhee, Ph.D., Nazareth’s new dean of the School of Management. For Rhee, who has degrees in chemistry and organizational behavior and has worked at several universities, it’s the human elements of business that matter most.

“We’re dealing with human beings,” Rhee notes, “and we need to make sure that our empathy comes across.” Rhee says the best way to advance the School of Management is to emphasize the quality that most attracted him to Nazareth. “There is a lot of caring about students, colleagues, and community here,” he says. “That’s what makes Naz special.”

Asked how he will highlight that quality in the School of Management, Rhee says he believes in leading by example. “I plan to further the practice I already see here—to care about our students, faculty, and staff,” he says. According to Rhee, caring means “helping every stakeholder within the School of Management realize their full potential.”

That goal will be easier to reach because of Nazareth’s small size, Rhee notes. Another Nazareth advantage he says he plans to work with is the College’s preponderance of female students.

“Some people think we need to attract more men,” Rhee says, “but I see us being able to leverage Naz’s majority female student body.” One way to do that, he notes, is to build programs in which women can develop their leadership abilities. "We need more women business leaders," Rhee says. "We want to empower women to take on leadership roles and help shift the business culture and mindset toward women as leaders."

This strategy fits with Rhee’s plan for all students: to teach them how to adapt in a changing marketplace. Rhee says he encourages “being growth-minded” and supports students in developing self-direction and flexibility. He notes that these days, technology evolves rapidly, and people change jobs often. “The environment is getting so complex,” says Rhee, “that we can’t have one person or one discipline solve all the problems. We need to collaborate.” Working together is a skill of the future, Rhee says, and one that CIOs tell him they see in their best employees.

Another marketable skill Rhee focuses on is understanding the relationship between people and technology. “Business leaders recognize that technology is important, but what really counts is the integration of technology and humanity,” Rhee says. For that reason, Rhee intends to promote learning in an integrated environment to give students a competitive advantage in the modern business arena.

Students can also move forward in business, Rhee says, by having diverse perspectives and solving problems. “With Nazareth being a comprehensive institution with a basis in liberal arts,” he notes, “I think we’re in a perfect place to develop those abilities.” He says these skills will be taught in the School of Management in the context of a thorough business foundation that cultivates each person holistically.

“It’s not just about business knowledge,” Rhee concludes. “It’s about making sure people can be engaged and enabled so they can accomplish their goals. That’s what I’ll be pursuing.”

Joanie Eppinga is a freelance writer and editor in Madison, Wisc. Eamonn Neff is a freelance writer and writing coach in Spokane, Wash.