Business at Hand
In July, Brian D. Till becomes dean of the Williams College of Business. Xavier magazine sat down with him to learn more about his vision.
Xavier: You’re coming to Cincinnati after nearly two decades at the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University, a Jesuit institution. What will you bring along with you in terms of that SLU experience?
Till: A very strong commitment to the value of a Jesuit university education and its corresponding ethics and values. One of the things we have at SLU is a “Service Leadership Certificate” for undergraduate business students. Students take workshops on campus, attend speakers and participate in service projects in the community. I think that’s just a perfect program for a Jesuit university. It’s important that business students have out-of-class opportunities to engage and live Jesuit values through service work.
Xavier: Is there anything that the Williams College needs, or needs to change, in your view?
Till: I’m not coming on campus with pre-determined set of programs. As I learn more about what is unique at Xavier and the Williams College of Business, naturally I will have some ideas. But most importantly, I intend to work with the various WCB constituencies—faculty, staff, students, business community—to craft a strategic direction for the College. That said, I have a few focus areas. I want to assure we maintain a strong undergraduate program connected to their liberal arts education. I want to enhance students’ global perspective and ensure that students integrate learning across disciplines.
Xavier: Your background includes corporate stints in a variety of foreign countries. How does that affect your viewpoint?
Till: As I mentioned, it is important to look at ways to improve students’ exposure to international opportunities. I have developed strong personal ties with two countries in my life: Norway and Colombia—Norway through friends and Colombia through teaching experiences. I am particularly interested in connecting with Latin America. Colombia is becoming an important business hub for that part of the hemisphere. I think it’s an area of the world that has a lot of potential, but it isn’t as bright on people’s radar screen as is China, India or Europe.
Xavier: Without revealing any master plan, you must have some process in mind for the future?
Till: I want to immediately develop a strategic plan, which will provide a blueprint for what we do as a College. This strategic planning process ought to be very inclusive. It will include staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and our board of advisers.
Xavier: You come to campus as a proven branding, creative advertising and marketing authority, having written a book and a number of articles on these topics. How will this influence your decisions?
Till: As part of the strategic planning process, we will define the Williams College of Business as a brand. I don’t know yet what that answer will be. But we will be exploring the question of what we want the Williams College of Business to stand for—what makes it unique and what are the defining characteristics of a Williams College of Business educational experience?
Xavier: You’re a native of St. Louis. How will this color your experience living here?
Till: I think there are a lot of similarities between St. Louis and Cincinnati. I look forward to learning more about the city and experiencing what makes Cincinnati unique and special.
At a Glance
Name: Brian D. Till
Title: Dean, Williams College of Business
Education: PhD in Business Administration, University of South Carolina; MBA and BS in advertising, University of Texas at Austin
Author: The Truth About Creating Brands People Love (2009)
Background: Professor of marketing and department chair, Saint Louis University, 1995-2012; Special assistant to the dean and visiting professor, Loyola University Chicago, 2010-2011; Assistant professor, Drexel University, 1992-1995; Product brand manager, grocery division, Purina Co., 1985-1988.