“I am a first-generation college graduate who understands the challenges that higher education poses. Fighting through the challenges and finding people who will help you are critical for success,” said Richard Kolbe, the new dean of the Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics. “I’m excited to play a role in helping our students, many who face enormous challenges, achieve successful careers in business. That is one of the reasons I chose to come to IU South Bend.”
Kolbe earned a PhD in Marketing, an MS in Marketing, and a MBA from the University of Cincinnati; and he has a BS in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “As a young person, I did not envision myself ever becoming a professor or a dean,” Kolbe remarked. “The faculty at the University of Cincinnati encouraged me to pursue my doctoral degree, which came as a shock to my family and friends. Higher education turned me on to the exciting world of business and marketing. It has transformed my life and way of thinking in a very positive way.”
At the Leighton School, Kolbe has high praise for the caliber of the faculty and staff and their commitment to the students they serve. “My colleagues take great pride in their accomplishments as teachers and scholars,” he commented. “Our faculty and staff gain tremendous satisfaction in supporting and preparing our students to excel in their careers in business.”
While at Kent State University, Kolbe served as chair of the Marketing Department for five years and ultimately became associate dean in the College of Business. After a bicycle accident gave him time to reflect on the direction of his professional life, he decided to pursue a deanship. He served as dean of the Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky before coming to IU South Bend.
Kolbe is passionate about expanding experiential learning opportunities for students at the Leighton School. In his previous positions, Kolbe witnessed the power of entrepreneurships, mentoring, job shadowing, and internship opportunities. “These real-world experiences help students see the value of what they were learning in the classroom,” he said. “It connects the dots, and for some students it either increases the fire in their belly to pursue a particular career path, or it shows them it’s not the right fit. One key goal of business education is to put students in occupations that match their abilities and dispositions.”
As he begins his deanship at the Leighton School, Kolbe is inspired by the economic development efforts in South Bend to build an infrastructure that attracts young professionals and expands business growth. He sees opportunities for the Leighton School faculty and students to play a major role in the region’s growth. “There’s a lot of positive energy here,” he explained. “I want the Leighton School to be an integral and valued contributor to the region and the local economy. I want the Leighton School to be the 'hometown hero' for economic development and growth. I believe we can do just that!”