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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Interim Dean Madhu Rao retires

Dealing with a new position, John Hoag tried his best not to be overwhelmed with the duties of being associate dean of the College of Business Administration.

Lucky for him, he had the help of Interim Dean, Madhu Rao, to guide him and the college through the transition process of an administrative lineup change.

However, the process will begin once more as Rao retires from the University.

It would have been easy for Rao to just hand off the workload and focus on his own job, but that’s not the kind of person he is, Hoag said.

“He worked carefully with me to make sure I wasn’t overwhelmed during that time … even though he had enough on his own plate,” he said.

The college experienced the change this past year when former dean Rodney Rogers was appointed as provost this past fall, placing then Associate Dean Rao as the new Interim Dean since July 2011.

Although Rao’s time as dean has been short, he has dedicated nearly 30 years of service to the University starting as an assistant professor of Operations Research in the fall of 1982. He then earned his doctorate in 1983 in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada.

And even though he has risen through the ranks from teaching to administration, he is a teacher at heart.

Rao said he got into teaching after feeling the satisfaction of giving presentations and the energy it gave him.

“The contribution I am most proud of is that when I used to teach and students would come back to tell me about how successful they are, and I get great satisfaction out of that,” Rao said.

Even though he isn’t teaching anymore, Rao said there are other benefits.

“When teaching, you look at the student through the course, as dean you look at their overall development,” he said.

Rao said some of the things the college looks to improve with a student doesn’t stop at the classroom, but continues to possible issues in their residence, internships and helping them get jobs.

Rao is always questioning what decisions will most benefit and better the students, Hoag said.

“He always has the students in his mind; it’s the center of what he does,” he said.

Students who worked with Rao can attest to his dedication.

Senior Celeste Bembry worked with Rao this year on a search committee for a new dean.

Rao strives to help students get to the next level and is always asking them what they think of their experiences, doing all he can to meet their concerns, Bembry said.

Senior Lena Zanzano, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, where student groups can work with the administration for support or to resolve issues, said Rao’s open mindedness and willingness to help demonstrated his care for students.

“He would give 110 percent support to various student organizations in need of help or funding,” Zanzano said.

Rao is also personable and easy to approach when telling him concerns, she said.

“It makes the experience better when the students know he cares,” Zanzano said.

His caring personality, dedication and selflessness allowed him to put his own goals on the back burner for the good of the college.

“[Rao] always put the needs of the College first, even deferring an opportunity for a faculty improvement leave multiple times because the College of Business needed him to continue his service in his administrator role,” said Rodney Rogers, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs in an email.

“Rao held the college together this year at an expense to himself .. and it would have been easy to make mistakes had he not been there to put a steady hand on the tiller,” Hoag said.

With Rao’s retirement from the University, he plans on transitioning back to the field of teaching.

He has accepted a job as a senior associate dean at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., for the upcoming fall. The college is currently in the process of finding a new dean.

“Ever since I got into administration, I’ve missed teaching a lot and have been trying to return,” Rao said. “This job has the right blend of teaching and administration.”

It’s great that he is going back to doing what he loves, Bembry said.

“It just goes to show that people should strive to do what they love,” she said.

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