Watch words

Bob Reid talks with a student

Bob Reid talks with a student

Occasionally we come across an individual who is a given for inclusion in our list of JMU Be the Change individuals. Bob Reid is such a given. While he was dean of the College of Business, he changed the lives of thousands by initiating and promoting innovations, which helped elevate the college to prominence among B-schools. He provided leadership that launched stellar careers and introduced influential individuals into the business world. He reinvigorated the Executive Advisory Council, bringing together alumni, faculty and students to foster a rich and enhanced collaborative and mentoring learning platform. He championed the now highly acclaimed COB 300 course. It is, in fact, impossible to overstate Bob Reid’s influence — and equally difficult to wrangle all of it into one short profile. COB faculty member Phil DuBose told me, Bob “took the CoB to places it had never been, and to places that some may have thought it would never go.” So as we introduce Bob Reid as a new addition to our Be the Change website, I asked  Phil, who knows him well, to offer a personal perspective of the man ……(And don’t miss the video that follows Phil’s piece!)

Bob Reid – A Leader Worth “Watching”

by Phil DuBose

(Phil DuBose is a professor of management in JMU’s lauded COB. He has also served the university as department head, associate dean for academic affairs and director of accreditation, which, he says, is how he wound up working closely with Bob for 15 years.)

Yogi Berra was absolutely correct when he asserted that “You can observe a lot just by watching.” I say that based upon my experience “watching” Bob Reid in his role as dean of the College of Business from 1996 to 2011. I not only observed a lot, but also learned a lot during the 15 years that I worked with him while he was dean. I’d like to share some of what I observed – and learned – during that period.

Bob asked department heads to do what is in the best interests of the college. This request was not as simple as it might seem because a department head is primarily responsible for his or her unit. But Bob made the process easier by modeling the behavior that he expected from others. Specifically, he always ensured that decisions made by the college’s leadership team were ones that were in the best long-term interests of the college and the university. While the outcomes resulting from those decisions were beneficial, the process aspects of these decision-making endeavors were nothing short of amazing. More specifically, Bob structured the decision-making process in such a way that the leadership team made decisions without ever “voting” on anything. Consequently, nobody ever felt like a “winner” or “loser” after a decision had been made.

If you’re thinking that one of the results of such a management practice would be a highly cohesive team, and positive, long-term relationships among team members, you’d be correct. Almost everybody serving as a department head or an associate dean remained in those roles for many years. Such long-term tenures of those in key positions speak volumes about just how much people liked working with Bob, as well as how much they liked working with one another as members of the leadership team, with the latter being an obvious result of the effectiveness of the overall leader.

One of the many reasons that people like working with Bob is the perspective that he brings to the job. As dean, he asked people to take their jobs seriously, but not to take themselves too seriously. He complied with his own request, as evidenced by the fact that, on numerous occasions, I heard him laughing heartily with whomever was in his office at the time, and I found myself wishing that I were in there with them. A dean’s office is an incredibly busy place, and much of what goes on is not particularly pleasant or fun. So it’s definitely “therapeutic” whenever the mood can be lightened – at the right time and in the right way – with some levity, and Bob was really good at lightening the mood.

Speaking of mood, I suspect that almost anybody who has ever had a job has had to deal with a co-worker, or even worse, a boss who is moody from time to time. In addition to being very unprofessional, this type of behavior is extremely unfair to those who have to work with the moody party. Nobody who worked with Bob ever had to deal with this problem because his mood was always upbeat and unvarying. As incredible, or perhaps unbelievable, as it sounds, I don’t recall his ever being “in a mood.” When you work with somebody on a regular basis and you never have to worry about how that person “is feeling today,” the work experience is much more productive and enjoyable.

Lest you conclude that the above information is simply “one man’s opinion” about Bob, let me provide you a little more information about him. He has been – and continues to be – highly regarded by virtually everybody with whom he comes in contact. He is past president of the Southern Business Deans Association, past president of Beta Gamma Sigma, and former chairman of The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Maintenance of Accreditation Committee. Beta Gamma Sigma is the national honor society for business schools, and no business school can have a BGS chapter unless the program is accredited by AACSB, the international accreditation organization for business schools.  Last summer, Bob departed JMU to become AACSB’s chief accreditation officer, a marvelous new opportunity for him. These positions are among the most prestigious in the business education arena, and ones that are not held by – or even aspired to – by most deans. Do you see a pattern here?

People say that baseball’s a funny game because you try to end up where you start out – at home plate, scoring a run for your team. Since I began by quoting a baseball hall of famer, it seems quite fitting that I conclude by referencing Yogi again here at the end. I can say with confidence that he definitely understands the relationship between watching and observing because I certainly observed a lot when I watched Bob. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to watch.

Here’s something else to watch……(Note: If you receive this through email, you will need to go to YouTube or the Be the Change WordPress site to view the video.)


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

3 Responses to Watch words

  1. Phillip Updike says:

    Bob Reid is the person who created the JMU College of Business as we know it today. His tireless and personable leadership have defined the COB and the thousands of students whose lives have been enriched by it. When the right person comes along at just the right time, there is no limit to what can occur. Bob Reid is a perfect example.

    Phillip Updike
    JMU Foundation Board
    JMU College of Business graduate


  2. Dr. Bob Uda says:

    I have had the distinct opportunity, pleasure, and honor of working closely with Dr. Robert Reid during my six years of membership on the Board of Regents (BOR) of the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM). During my six-year involvement, Bob Reid served as the Executive Director of ICPM. I particularly enjoyed the direct interface I had with Dr. Reid during my last four years with the ICPM BOR when I first served as vice chair followed by serving as chair.

    In my opinion, Dr. Reid is one of the finest leaders and managers I have ever worked with in my entire 45-year career. From other people’s comments, I know I am not alone in my opinion. Dr. Reid epitomizes the quintessential leader and manager we in leadership and management positions seek to emulate. Mostly by observation, I learned a lot from Dr. Reid during my six years of activity on the ICPM BOR. I am proud to call him a good friend.

    Dr. Reid is a man of utmost integrity. He is always cheerful and fun to be around. If you do not know him, it will be well worth the effort for you to get to know this great man. He was a phenomenal dean of the James Madison University College of Business. He will likewise be a great chief accreditation officer of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). I wish Dr. Reid the best for he deserves nothing but the best.


  3. Bud Clarke says:

    Bob Reid is indeed a special person who unequivocally personifies JMU’s “Be the Change.” Not only did Bob Reid construct a positive direction for the JMU College of Business, his optimistic outlook helped to put many a day in perspective for those of us who had the privilege of working with him. JMU, and the people here, are indeed better because of our time with Bob Reid.
    Thank-you Phil for capturing the extraordinarily positive leadership style of Bob Reid.


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