Nearly three decades after arriving at the University of Redlands, Keith Roberts is retiring from his post as the School of Business’s associate dean, having enhanced student programs, worked to secure accreditation, and established a rapport with students while serving them in numerous capacities.
“When I came here, Keith Roberts helped me get started—he was interim dean then,” says School of Business Senecal Endowed Dean Thomas Horan in a video message to students. “He’s been with the School of Business for 27 years and has been a cornerstone for the school. We’re going to miss him.”
Horan then announced that carrying the torch as new School of Business associate dean will be Ron Jewe, who brings over two decades of professional experience in higher education administration and scholarship in strategic management and organizational behavior to the role. Jewe looks forward to building upon Roberts’ legacy.
Championing student success
Roberts arrived at the U of R after a career as a lawyer in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps. In 2003, he was hired as associate dean and has since worked as a professor, interim University registrar, and interim dean. Over the course of his career at Redlands, Roberts taught 125 courses, hosted 16 study away trips, established the Omicron Theta Chapter of the Delta Mu Delta honor society, and spearheaded the ACBSP accreditation process for the School of Business.
“My occasional teaching in the classroom kept me grounded and knowledgeable about what is happening in the classroom while I have been in the Dean’s Office,” says Roberts. “One of my primary responsibilities as associate dean was to supervise our many adjunct professors. Staying close to the classroom and our students helped me immensely.”
While at Redlands, Roberts was dedicated to championing students, working with staff members in the School’s Office of Student Success to augment various programs and initiatives. Having inducted many students into the Whitehead Leadership Society and selected and awarded students scholarships, he also spent time enhancing support services for military and veteran students by establishing special groups at regional campuses to encourage community-building among that population.
A decades-long career is not without its obstacles, though. Roberts notes that, while its seven regional campuses make the School of Business unique, ensuring that students were receiving the same quality education at each campus was a challenge. But after implementing various protocols, such as internal classroom reviews and faculty evaluations, Roberts is confident that all students “receive the same excellent experience, regardless of location.”
Roberts has also helped the School weather the COVID-19 pandemic. At its onset, courses were moved to an online modality and have since evolved to better suit students’ needs. “We were not content to simply deliver on-ground courses online,” he says. “We worked to revise our syllabi and Moodle templates to strengthen the online experience for our students. Our efforts have paid off as the majority of our students now prefer to continue learning online.”
The strong sense of community is what has kept Roberts at Redlands for nearly three decades, and it is what pushes him to continue teaching. Although he is retiring from administration, he will continue as an adjunct professor, savoring the opportunity to meet students and celebrate their accomplishments.
“If our students are successful,” he says, “we are successful.”
Passing the torch
Arriving at Redlands after 21 years at Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business, Ron Jewe plans to build upon the foundation that Roberts constructed. “My goal is to continue the good work that Keith has been doing and see what kinds of things we can do to enhance the student experience,” he says.
Having previously taught courses in leadership, strategic management, organizational behavior, and business ethics, Jewe looks forward to finding innovative ways to solve problems and promote student success, ultimately allowing the School of Business to evolve.
He notes that his approach to leadership is grounded in theories that create effective working environments and empower people while focusing on doing what is right and ensuring that everyone is treated with respect. Additionally, after serving as cochair of the diversity council at his previous institution, Jewe is eager to lend his expertise as the School of Business continues to develop diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Looking forward, Jewe aims to help the School grow by supporting Horan’s vision and raising awareness of its degree programs and their importance in the modern marketplace.
“Especially as a result of the pandemic, organizations and businesses are looking for individuals who know how to adapt and craft strategies that can leverage opportunities when it comes to the workforce, safety, and ways to provide new services to customers,” he says.
In addition to changing career outlooks for students, Jewe recognizes the role the pandemic has played in education. Recently, the U of R School of Business has surveyed students, asking about their needs and priorities when it comes to course delivery and curriculum. Scaling technology for course delivery in tandem with accommodating students’ requests is what will allow the School of Business to succeed in the long-term.
Jewe was initially attracted to one of the School of Business’s distinctive characteristics—a commitment to students—and is enthusiastic to join a team that puts their needs first.
“The fact that we have team members who follow up with every student and work to resolve issues is a testament to Redlands’ personalized approach to education,” he says. “We have a great team and I’m really excited to be here.”
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