Exclusive: Why Stephanie Bryant is Leaving MSU's College of Business

"There's nothing like being a bear," says Bryant, the dean of Missouri State University's College of Business. She is starting a new position with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business on Jan. 2.

Stephanie Bryant started at MSU's College of Business in 2011. Photo by Brandon Alms.

Stephanie Bryant, who has served as dean of Missouri State University's College of Business for the past six years, is saying goodbye to 417-land in 2018. On Monday, MSU announced that Bryant accepted the position of executive vice president and chief accreditation officer for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International in Tampa, Florida.

"AACSB is the leading accreditor of business schools," Bryant told Biz 417. "It's the gold standard. There's almost nothing else that would attract me. From a thought leadership and strategy perspective, it's very exciting." Bryant will ensure business schools around the world provide quality education to students in business and accounting programs. According to its website, AACSB accredits 785 business schools worldwide. She starts her new role on Jan. 2 and will oversee 550 volunteers who help with accreditation and reaccreditation processes.

Bryant first got involved with AACSB while working as the director of the School of Accountancy at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She was invited to join a peer review team, which conducts site visits of schools undergoing the reaccreditation process. She has also served as the chair of the Accounting Accreditation Committee, as a member of the Committee on Accreditation Policy and as a member of AACSB International's Board of Directors, a position into which she was elected last year.

As excited as she is, the move is bittersweet for Bryant. "I hate to leave Missouri State," she says. "I am just really deeply emotionally invested in the Springfield community, in all the things I've become involved in, in Missouri State and in the College of Business. I've only been at this school six years, but there's nothing like being a bear."

Stephanie Bryant, dean of Missouri State University's College of Business, was named as one of Biz 417's Women Who Mean Business in 2016. Photo by Brad Zweerink.

Bryant has made a big impact during her tenure here. At the university, she has led the renovation of Glass Hall, which is scheduled to open this fall, and has grown the College of Business to its spot as the 34th largest in the nation among AACSB-accredited institutions, according to MSU's release. Enrollment tops 5,500 students, an increase of more than 890 students from when Bryant began at the university in 2011.

Bryant says one of the things she most proud of is "being able to connect the College of Business with the community." Back in 2011, there wasn't a strong relationship. It was her goal to change that and to see her students get hired locally. "I think the College of Business became more integrated," Bryant says.

The dean also became a big supporter of the school's athletic programs over the years, even traveling to watch teams play. She has helped recruit players, especially future business majors, for several teams including women's and men's basketball, volleyball and baseball. "I just have a love for what they have to do to be able to be great on the field and also in the classroom," Bryant says. Her last day at MSU is December 15, the day of fall commencement.

She says her position at the university also opened up opportunities for her to get involved in the community. Bryant is a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast and is active in the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, among other organizations. Her accomplishments have led to several accolades including being selected for Biz 417's Women Who Mean Business in 2016 and the first-ever Biz 100, a list of the most powerful and influential business leaders in 417-land. In 2013, Springfield Business Journal selected her as a Most Influential Women honoree

When asked what she'll miss most about 417-land, Bryant says: "It's the people who let [me] into their lives for just a little while and who made me feel like I was a Springfieldian." 

"Everywhere that you go, you hope you leave it better," Bryant says. "The No. 1 most important thing to me is to live a life of significance and make a positive impact. I hope I've done that at Missouri State."

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