Keith Womer named interim dean of the College of Business Administration

by | Jul 2, 2020

Womer, who served as dean from 2004-2013, is replacing retired Dean Charles Hoffman as UMSL conducts a national search for a permanent successor.
Keith Womer

Keith Womer has been named interim dean of the College of Business Administration. Womer, who is replacing Charles Hoffman, served as dean of the college from 2004 to 2013. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A familiar face is set to take over the leadership of the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ College of Business Administration on an interim basis while a national search begins for a permanent dean.

Dean Emeritus Keith Womer, who served as dean from 2004 to 2013, will return to the role left vacant with the retirement of Charles Hoffman at the end of June. Womer will begin his tenure as interim dean on July 6.

“We greatly appreciate Dr. Womer’s willingness to lead the college through this time of transition,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marie Mora said. “His vast leadership experience is particularly valuable given the challenging and uncertain times we’re living through—times when we need proven and dedicated leaders who have a deep appreciation for our students and a commitment to ensuring their success.”

Womer had been enjoying semi-retirement in recent years – still teaching classes in the Doctor of Business Administration program, advising DBA students and finding time to play golf.

Mora approached him about returning to the dean’s office after Hoffman made the decision to retire after seven years in the position.

“I’m not really out looking for a job at this stage,” Womer said. “But given the problems with COVID-19 and the corresponding budget situations, I know there are a number of retired faculty members who’ve indicated that they’d be willing to help, and I’m one of them.

“There’s an interesting array of problems on the table right now. That’s always interesting to see how we can go about solving some of those.”

Womer, a Navy veteran, has been affiliated with UMSL for the past 16 years. He helped lead the college through AACSB reaccreditation, fund raising, program development and growth during his time as dean and continued working as a professor of supply chain and analytics after leaving the dean’s post.

He previously spent 18 years at the University of Mississippi, including as interim dean from 1999-2001, and before that worked at Clemson University, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School after earning his PhD in economics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1970.

His more than 50 years of experience in higher education will serve him well in leading the college’s faculty and staff as they work through budget challenges, implications from COVID-19, adapting to different modes of teaching as well as new leadership.

Womer expects COBA faculty and staff to do what they can to meet those challenges and maintain an environment where students can thrive.

“What many folks don’t understand is the unique role that UMSL plays,” Womer said. “We have amazing students. Almost all are working at least part-time and in many cases full-time – and in some cases more than full-time. Many of them have children, have various kinds of commitments and have amazingly complex work schedules where they’re balancing family and job and school.

“It’s frankly very gratifying to work with these kinds of students that are striving to earn a degree to advance their lives and contribute to society.”

While ensuring student success is a top priority, Womer also aims to help COBA continue to advance new programs such as the globally ranked DBA program, entrepreneurship and cybersecurity, which were all created in the past five years to meet the demands of a changing workforce. Other anticipated new programs, such as a master of science in supply chain, are in the pipeline.

“Charlie followed me in the position and was able to build on what I thought was a really strong base, and he accomplished a great deal in the seven years he served as dean,” Womer said. “My goal is primarily to try to preserve all of that for the next several months so that the new dean comes in with a pretty well oiled machine.”

Mora is focused on ensuring that the national search for the college’s next dean will be transparent and inclusive, and she expects to have no shortage of interest in the position.

“Our College of Business Administration has built a reputation for quality teaching and innovative programs,” Mora said. “We will identify a candidate who reinforces the college’s strengths while helping it continue to evolve to serve the needs of our students, many of whom are non-traditional and first-generation college students, as well as the needs of our business community in the St. Louis region.”

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik