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New Dean hopes to globalize UNF’s Business college, cautious about change

Ajay Samant hopes to open up new learning and job opportunities as the newly appointed Dean for the Coggin College of Business.

Since starting in July, Samant has been meeting with faculty members to survey the status of the business college and gather faculty input on changes which need to be made to the curriculum. He said meetings with faculty members will continue over the next three to four months.

“For me to decide on my own what changes should be made would not be fair,” Samant said. “I must speak with people and find out what their thoughts are and then decide what strategic plan we should have for the college.”

Samant will begin meeting with students to receive a variety of opinions concerning the status of the business college once the fall semester starts next week.

“I want to spend more time meeting with students to learn what we can do to make their educational experience more meaningful,” Samant said. “I plan to meet with the leaders of students organizations based in the business college.”

Another goal of Samant’s is to promote UNF’s national recognition by encouraging faculty members to publish their work not only on the state level, but on the national and international levels, too. He also plans to boost interactivity between Jacksonville businesses and the college for networking purposes and to show what the school has to offer.

Samant also hopes to boost the emphasis on globalization and sustainability as focal points in the school’s curriculum. He said it is vital to strengthen the school’s ability to secure good jobs for students graduating from the business school.

“It’s my philosophy, I believe that the most important stakeholder at the university are the students. The university exists for students,” Samant said.

During his time as administrative work at Western Michigan University, Samant started an undergraduate Bachelor’s of Business Administration Business Cohort Program to provide special school experiences for students. His positions at the university ranged from department of finance and commercial law chair to interim dean for the Haworth College of Business.

Samant received his bachelor’s degree in statistics and his master’s degree in economics at the University of Bombay – now the University of Mumbai – in India. He then worked for four years at the Reserve Bank of India – the central bank of the country – before going to Indiana University Bloomington for his doctorate.

His teaching experience includes diverse international experience. Samant became an assistant professor of finance at WMU in 1992 and became a full professor in 2003. He taught finance classes from July 2000 to June 2001 at two universities in New Zealand: the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand and Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand.

Judy Swisher, the current chair of the department of finance and commercial law at WMU, said that it was a joy working with Samant. She said his contributions to creating the global business center at WMU has helped faculty and students find opportunities to study international business.

“He’s always cheerful and friendly, [and] he takes a positive attitude on things. He’s always interested in student welfare and well-being,” Swisher said.

Samant’s former coworker, Jack Ruhl, the associate dean for the Haworth College of Business at WMU, said UNF is lucky to have Samant as a dean.

“He’s a consummate professional. He takes his work very seriously, but he does not take himself seriously,” Ruhl said.

Samant published several of his works of research in numerous academic journals including the “International Journal of Management Theory and Practice” as well as the “Journal of Global Business.”

He currently lives in the Osprey Fountains residence halls while he looks for a house in the area. Samant’s wife and two daughters live in Michigan still. Some of his hobbies include camping and spending time with family.

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