Stephen Ferris feels like an effective football quarterback who gets sidelined in the first quarter from an injury.
“I leave with regret,” said Ferris, who after eight months as dean of the College of Business at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has announced he’s stepping down June 30.
Ferris will become dean for the Miller College of Business at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., on July 1.
The move is to accommodate his wife’s health issues, who Ferris said has had trouble adjusting to Colorado’s higher altitude.
“I want to thank the UCCS administration; it’s been a very positive experience, and Colorado Springs will have a warm spot in my heart,” he said Wednesday. “It’s as gorgeous as the pictures.”
Ferris replaced Venkat Reddy last July, after Reddy was named chancellor after serving as dean of the College of Business for nearly 13 years.
Ferris said he’s learned a lot while in the leadership role at UCCS, including how to advance Reddy’s vision to have the campus be a community asset that contributes to the economic and civic development of the region.
“That’s a nice way to frame what a business school can do,” Ferris said.
He also realized several accomplishments during his short stint leading the 1,650-student College of Business.
Ferris created a new program, ROAR, an acronym for relationships, opportunity, acumen and readiness, which will launch in the fall.
All business students will be required to take the program to help them identify and prepare for life after college, with career coaching, job exploration and transition skills.
“That will do two things: Our students will be better prepared for the workplace, and it will help direct young people into the Colorado Springs workforce,” Ferris said.
He’s also been working with representatives from the real estate industry and the hospitality industry to potentially develop undergraduate degrees to meet the need in those sectors.
And he’s put more of a focus on faculty research.
“One thing schools do is teach and convey information, but it’s also important we create new information through our scholarship, research and discovery,” Ferris said. “That speaks to the strength of the college and the university.”
The research emphasis in the College of Business, along with growth in research-focused doctoral programs, helped boost UCCS’ ranking under the latest Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the campus learned in January.
Ferris also developed a new recognition, the “Next Generation Entrepreneur Award,” which in its inaugural year will be given to Hannah Parsons, CEO of Exponential Impact. The Colorado Springs nonprofit organization adopts emerging technologies, develops entrepreneurs and expands venture funding to local startups.
The award will be presented May 31 at an annual luncheon that has expanded to become a “Celebration of Entrepreneurship.” The event also will include the traditional Lifetime Entrepreneurship Award, which this year will go to commercial real estate developer James C. Berger.
“It’s important to recognize our lifetime entrepreneurs here, and there’s also a dynamic sector of the demographic doing creative and entrepreneurial things,” Ferris said.
UCCS Provost Tom Christensen will name an interim dean by the end of this semester and appoint a search committee to find Ferris’ replacement, said campus spokesman Jared Verner.
Ferris said his successor will work with Reddy and Christensen to implement a new strategic plan and a new budget model designed to encourage entrepreneurship and enable the university to grow.
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