Robert T. Sumichrast, the Richard E. Sorensen Chair and dean of the Pamplin College of Business since 2013, has announced his retirement effective the end of the current academic year.
Sumichrast has spent nearly 30 years of his distinguished career at Virginia Tech.
Under his leadership as dean, the quality and reputation of several college programs have improved significantly. In recent years, programs in business analytics and information technology, cybersecurity, hospitality and tourism management, management, and real estate rank in the top 10 nationally, and finance, accounting, marketing faculty research, the MBA programs, and the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, rank in the top 25.
In addition, Sumichrast has been highly engaged in one of Virginia Tech’s top strategic priorities in the Boundless Impact campaign, the Global Business and Analytics Complex (GBAC). The $250-million initiative to be built on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus will be the catalyst to secure the university’s position as a world leader in data analytics and decision sciences. The ability to collect, assess, and use data to predict results has altered business and society. Students from Pamplin as well as the College of Engineering and the College of Science will use this complex for interdisciplinary programs designed to promote collaboration, giving Pamplin students the opportunity to experience a world-class business school experience.
“Dr. Sumichrast dedicated nearly three decades to Virginia Tech as an instructor, administrator, and exceptional leader,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “During his tenure, the Pamplin College of Business has significantly advanced its student experience, research productivity, and the engagement of alumni and the business community. The university greatly appreciates his exceptional service.
“As dean, his vision for the future of business education and analytics has been transformative,” added Sands. “His achievements, including GBAC and Apex Center, key industry partnerships, and a strong Pamplin community, will serve our students and the commonwealth for generations to come.”
“It has been a pleasure working closely with Robert in my time as a dean and as provost and have seen, first hand, his dedication to elevating the reputation, accomplishments, and faculty of the Pamplin College of Business,” Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke said. “He has distinguished himself as an outstanding academician and leader and has always served as a strong advocate for his students, faculty, and staff. I am grateful for his steadfast commitment to academic excellence and program innovation and his years of service to our university. I congratulate Robert on his retirement and wish him all the best.”
Additional achievements during Sumichrast’s tenure as dean include the launch the nation’s first research-rigorous Executive Ph.D. Program, the creation of the online MBA program, expansion of the highly ranked Master of Information Technology (MIT) program in partnership with the College of Engineering, effective management and engagement of student and college advisory boards, and increased alumni giving.
As he approaches retirement, Sumichrast sees a bright future for his college.
“In all that we have done, we have sought to give students the best business school experience possible,” said Sumichrast. “We have, for example, reorganized academic advising; created opportunities for experiential learning, such as the Apex Center, which allows many of our students to participate in our entrepreneurship courses, competitions, and other activities each year; as well as enhancing experiential student programs, such as BASIS, SEED and PRISM. We also have engaged more alumni; expanded our offerings in the Greater Washington, D.C., metro area; and have created a community that is more diverse and inclusive, increasing the number of underrepresented and underserved students and faculty in the college.
“The foundation in place today will lead to even greater success in the future,” said Sumichrast. “It has been great to have worked in an environment where there is so much positivity.”
Sumichrast began his academic career as an assistant professor at Virginia Tech in 1984, and has had a distinguished record as an educational leader, scholar, and teacher.
His research has been published in several of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in the fields of management science and operations management. He has taught 17 different courses in the Department of Business Information Technology and chaired or was a member of 40 graduate committees across the university.
In addition, Sumichrast served as Pamplin’s associate dean for graduate and international programs and director of the MBA program for four years, during which time rankings for the MBA program improved and the enrollment in international programs, including study abroad, greatly expanded.
He has been the recipient of the college’s Certificate of Teaching Excellence, the university’s Certificate of Teaching Excellence, and Pamplin College of Business MBA Faculty Award.
In 2003, he left Virginia Tech to become dean of the E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University. In 2007, he was named dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. At both of these institutions he forged a reputation for developing innovative programs to better serve students, for improving relations with alumni and the business community, and for increasing philanthropic donations.
In 2012, Sumichrast was elected to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Board of Directors and subsequently served as the international organization’s secretary-treasurer. In addition, he has contributed to several AACSB groups, including the Executive, Compensation, Accreditation Policy, and Finance and Investment committees, and has served on many AACSB Peer Review Teams for universities in North America, Europe, and Asia as either a member or chair.
He has also served on the board of directors for the Executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Council and the Southern Business Administrators Association, as president of the southwestern Virginia chapter of the American Production and Inventory Control Society, and as president of the southeastern chapter of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science.
Sumichrast received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Ph.D. from Clemson University.
An international search for the next dean of the Pamplin College of Business will begin later this fall.