Keith Womer, dean of the College of Business Administration at UMSL, will return to teaching on July 1. (Photo by August Jennewein)

“We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”

Those words by poet T.S. Eliot ring true for Keith Womer, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Where he started is just where he wants to be. Womer will step down as dean and return to the classroom as a professor of logistics and supply chain management beginning July 1.

“I’m looking forward to returning to my roots, to what got me into academia in the first place, back into the classroom to better connect with the students,” Womer said.

Womer, 68, joined the college in August 2004, after serving as a director of the Hearin Center for Enterprise Science and professor of operations management at The University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Since joining UMSL, he’s helped strengthen the college in many respects.

“Keith Womer has been a forward thinking and energetic dean of the College of Business Administration,” UMSL Provost Glen Cope said. “He has raised funds for a new building, facilitated partnerships with employers and business leaders in the St. Louis region and kept our International Business program highly ranked. He’ll be missed as dean, but we’re glad our students will get to benefit from his teaching and research.”

A search committee – chaired by Susan Dean-Baar, dean of the College of Nursing at UMSL, and Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UMSL – is being created, and the process of finding a new dean will begin in the next few weeks.

Womer said he came to UMSL wanting to improve the college and believes he’s done that.

“It’s time now to get some new blood in here with fresh ideas,” Womer told the College of Business Administration Leadership Council at a meeting Friday.

The sentiment around the table after receiving the news was that of respect and thankfulness.

“The council and I will miss (Womer’s) leadership,” said Mark Jansen, president of the council and partner at the accounting firm RubinBrown in St. Louis. “He has always shown a desire to improve UMSL for the students. He has worked tirelessly towards a new business school building and many other activities to improve the college and programs for the students. We will miss his expertise and his charm; but we wish him the best as he returns to the classroom.”

During his tenure as dean, the college has:

  • Completed a capital campaign, raising $15 million for a new building and $10 million for scholarships
  • Maintained accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business for both the college and accounting area
  • Continued to provide excellent programs, including the International Business program which has been ranked in the top 20 for 10 consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report
  • Established a monthly Breakfast and Business Series to bring together students, alumni and business leaders to discuss important issues
  • Created an annual event to honor distinguished alumni
  • Increased internship opportunities throughout the St. Louis area
  • Improved relationships with St. Louis-area business leaders

Michael Elliot, associate dean of undergraduate business programs at UMSL, said Womer’s contributions to the college have been remarkable.

“He has been steadfast in assuring that the college maintains its excellent academic standing,” Elliot said. “He has helped us maintain our AACSB accreditation during challenging budgetary times, enhanced the status of our international business program, and facilitated a student-centered approach to advising. Dean Womer has been instrumental in the college’s fundraising effort for a much needed new building. The college faculty and staff will forever be grateful for the leadership Dean Womer has provided.”

Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton