Saint Louis University Selects Dr. Mark Higgins as Dean of the John Cook School of Business

ST. LOUIS — Following a national search, Mark Higgins, Ph.D., has been named the next dean of the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University. His tenure begins Jan. 1, 2015.

“Dr. Higgins brings more than a quarter century of experience as a highly respected scholar and innovative leader to his new role at Saint Louis University,” said University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. “The fact that he was selected from an exceptionally strong field of candidates speaks to the outstanding national reputation of our business school.”

markhiggins1-wh8Higgins has been a member of University of Rhode Island’s faculty since 1988 and was appointed dean of the URI’s business college in 2006. Under his watch, the college has launched new degree programs and majors, increased resources for faculty and enhanced student support services. 

As dean, he strengthened relationships with the college’s alumni and supporters, with a primary focus on fundraising for student scholarships. Higgins also created a diversity task force, which during his tenure, helped double the college’s minority enrollment.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Higgins will be joining the faculty of Saint Louis University,” said Ellen Harshman, Ph.D., J.D., interim vice president for academic affairs. “As an experienced dean, he is well prepared to move the John Cook School of Business forward.”  

Today’s announcement represents the culmination of an extensive national search led by a committee of faculty, staff and students. The search process was inclusive, with all members of the John Cook School of Business community having opportunities to meet with finalists and offer feedback to the committee. 

“The search committee and the faculty expressed the belief that Dr. Higgins will be a great fit for the business school because he has the leadership skills to continue the school’s forward progress,” said search committee chair Michael Wolff, J.D., dean of SLU’s School of Law.

For his part, Higgins said he is very excited about joining Saint Louis University as the dean of the historic business school that has graduated 28,923 students since its founding in 1910.

“All the people I have met at SLU have been extremely friendly and welcoming,” Higgins said. “I look forward to working with the faculty and staff at the Cook School as well as others throughout the University and in the business community to enhance the reputation of both the business school and SLU. My wife Annie and I look forward to being part of the SLU community.”

Higgins succeeds Scott Safranski, Ph.D., who has served as interim dean since 2013. For more than 20 years, Safranski has served in a variety of administrative roles at the business school, including twice as associate dean, as well as chair of the Department of Management.

“I would like to thank Dr. Safranski for his leadership during the past year and for his efforts to guide the John Cook School of Business during this important time of transition,” Pestello said.


More about Mark Higgins:

During his tenure at the University of Rhode Island, Higgins has also served as director of the masters in accounting program and associate dean for undergraduate programs. He also currently holds the also holds the Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Higgins earned his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and is also a CPA. Prior to joining the University of Rhode Island, he was a tax manager for Ernst and Young in New York City.

Among his administrative initiatives at URI, Higgins created on-site MBA programs at the Pfizer Company in Connecticut, and Taco Industries in Rhode Island. He also worked with faculty of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography to develop the Blue MBA, an innovative joint program for students to graduate with a Master’s of Science in oceanography as well as an MBA.

In addition, Higgins helped create an annual career day that brought alumni to campus to interact with students and provide career guidance. He also worked to enhance and strengthen the school’s internship program and experiential learning opportunities.

On the faculty side, Higgins created an awards program to recognize and reward faculty and staff excellence. The program includes three teaching awards (undergrad, grad and new faculty/instructor), an outstanding research award, outstanding faculty service award, a Ph.D. research award and a staff excellence award as well as cash rewards for faculty who publish in top tier journals.

With a strong commitment to students, Higgins reinstituted the Business Student Advisory Council at Rhode Island giving students the opportunity to provide input and advice on curriculum and other issues related to the College of Business. He is also dedicated to opportunities to help the community through fundraising involvement by faculty, staff and students, who have raised thousands of dollars for the Matty Siravo Epilepsy Foundation and Relay for Life.

His research covers a broad range of areas that encompasses accounting education, tax research, real estate and business ethics and has been published nationally and internationally.

Higgins is the past president of the American Taxation Association and serves on the Executive Committee of the American Accounting Association as vice president for Sections and Regions. In 2006, he was elected into the American Accounting Association Northeast Region Hall of Fame.


More about the John Cook School of Business

Founded in 1910 with Father Joseph Davis’ vision to create a flourishing school of finance and commerce, the John Cook School of Business is the oldest business school west of the Mississippi River. Rooted in a rich history of values-based business education, for the past century Saint Louis University’s business school has continuously sought to define business education.  

Accredited by AACSB International — the premier accrediting agency for degree programs in business — the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University is home to top-20 programs in entrepreneurship, international business and supply chain management. In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Cook School No. 79 out of more than 400 business schools in the country.

To learn more about the John Cook School of Business, visit business.slu.edu


More about Saint Louis University:

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,500 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

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