Star City 6: Donde Plowman
Donde Plowman is the Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (cba.unl.edu).
Tell us a little about your business. – The College of Business Administration at UNL is home to over 4,000 students who are pursuing business degrees and over 1,000 students from other colleges who are pursuing the Minor in Business. CBA is second only to Arts & Sciences in the number of undergraduate enrollments. We offer undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees in business. Our College has experienced a 22% increase in enrollments in the last five years and a 63% growth in first-time freshmen in the last five years. We seem to be the place to be at UNL.
How did you get started in the business? – After receiving my PhD in Management at UT Austin, I began as an Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Texas at San Antonio and was promoted to Professor and then Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research. After 19 years at UTSA, I moved to the University of Tennessee where I had an endowed professorship and became Department Head of the Department of Management. From there I was recruited to apply for the position of Dean at UNL.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – To succeed as an academic at major universities requires conducting high level research that is reviewed blindly by your peers from around the world, and which is accepted for publication into high visibility journals. I have published over 60 articles and each one of them is a process that often takes 2-3 years to be published. There are many rejections along the way; the recognition comes in bits and pieces and it can be hard on one’s soul. I have always collaborated with others – so that it is not such a lonely process – and I have lived a rich personal life, raising children, being active in church and the community, which counterbalances the long stretches of discouragement that often accompany the research aspect of being a professor.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – Since becoming Dean at UNL, I have had the great fortune to work with incredible faculty, staff and alums, who have helped us achieve the goal of raising over $80 million dollars in private funds for the construction of our new CBA building, scheduled to open in June of 2017. We also received a $30 million gift from Gallup and the Clifton family to establish the Clifton Strengths Institute in CBA. I am really proud of these accomplishments.
Tell us a little about your family. – My dad is a retired Methodist minister living in Tulsa, OK. We lost my mom to Alzheimer’s over a year ago. My husband is Dennis Duchon, who is the Department Chair of Management in our college and to whom I have been married for 13+ years. I am mother to 3 sons: Kevin (28), Chijioke Onuoha (27), and Christopher, who was killed in a car wreck at the age of 20.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – I have recently taken up golf and I love playing with my husband and our son Kevin. I love being outside with the two most important men in my life, trying to do something challenging, and just being in the experience (which is often frustrating).
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why? – Mourning Hope. I’m passionate about helping others who have experienced the death of a family member.
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