By Curt Yeomans
The School of Business at Clayton State University went through five deans in a six-year period before Ernest "Bud" Miller took over in December 1997.
Over the next decade, Miller oversaw the school gaining accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and authorization from the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents to create a master's program.
Miller, and the school's associate dean, Dr. Jacob Chacko, also oversaw the planning and groundbreaking for a new building, which will house the business school when it opens in July. "I think the school has joined the top ranks of business schools in this country, and the best is yet to come," Miller said.
Miller retired from his position last month. The long-time dean decided to go into private business, and spend more time with his five grandchildren. He also felt it was time Chacko took over the school, and lead it into the future. Chacko became the school's new dean on Jan. 1.
Miller, who came to Clayton State from the business community, brought Chacko, who already had a background in business education, to Clayton State in 1999 to help out with the academic side of running the business school. Miller wanted to re-invent the business school, and make it into a department with national respect.
Miller said bringing Chacko to the university to serve as associate dean was the most important decision he made during his decade-long tenure.
"He [Chacko] was the one who led our efforts to gain accreditation," Miller said. "He also helped lead the planning efforts for our master's program."
Working with the local business community was one of Miller's goals when he came to the university. He said professors from the school now seek input from local corporations when putting curriculums together for classes. Miller wanted supply-chain management offered as an emphasis area in the master's program. He saw the Atlanta area as the transportation hub of the southeast.
He said no other school in Georgia offers an emphasis in supply-chain management at the masters level, and only one other school, Georgia Southern University, offers it at the undergraduate level. The master's program has proven to be popular with local residents. Since the degree program began in August 2007, 75 students have enrolled in it.
"A lot of our students want to stay in this area after they graduate," Miller said. "We also want to meet the needs of the local business community."
John Shiffert, who has been a spokesman for the university for the last 12 years, said the business school is not the same as it was before Miller came to Clayton State. Shiffert said a lot of it had to do with Miller convincing the faculty to buy into his vision for the school, and urging the professors to become energized about turning the school into a nationally accredited program.
"Energy is sustained by the faculty, but it comes from the top," Shiffert said.
Chacko said the next step for officials in the business school is to finish working on a strategic plan for the future. He said the key element of the strategic plan is marketing the school that Miller built. Chacko said he is going to market the School of Business as "a private school education at a public school cost."
"His [Miller's] legacy is he put this school on the map," Chacko said. "As we go forward to do bigger and better things, those achievements will be his legacy as well."