de la Vina

“As John D. Rockefeller once said, ‘Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.'” With these words, Dr. Lynda de la Viña summed up a philosophy that seems to have defined her six and-a-half year term as dean of the College of Business at UTSA.

On Jan. 20, de la Viña announced that she would step down from her position as dean effective May 31. According to university officials, she will be taking leave the remainder of the spring semester and all of the fall semester, after which she will return to teach at the new Department of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management.

The move, as she put it, “allows me to transition and refocus my efforts in an area of passion for me – entrepreneurship.” Dr. Daniel Hollas, senior associate dean with the College of Business, has been named acting dean while a nationwide search for a replacement for de la Viña is conducted.

Dr. de la Viña spent 19 years at UTSA before being appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the U.S. Treasury Department, where she served from 1998 to 2001. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve at that level in the Treasury Department.

While in Washington D.C., she stated in her 2011 annual report to the College of Business, she had the opportunity to hire an intern from UTSA. One day in the cafeteria, she overheard the intern from UTSA talking with several other interns from other, mostly Ivy League, schools about their respective alma maters. De la Viña said that when the UTSA student’s turn came, “He simply mentioned he came from the University of Texas system.”

That seemingly insignificant comment, made by a college student to a group of his peers, affected de la Viña deeply and may have sealed the destiny of the UTSA College of Business to grow from a regional to a nationally ranked and internationally recognized business school under her leadership.

“That day I thought, if I ever had the opportunity to return to UTSA, I would focus on raising the profile of the college so that students could proudly introduce themselves as UTSA Roadrunners and graduates of a nationally ranked College of Business.”

The opportunity did come on July 1, 2005, when de la Viña was named dean and Peter Flawn Professor of Economics at the UTSA College of Business. She wasted no time acting on her vision for the college. According to Hollas, acting dean and long-time colleague of de la Viña’s, the two of them sat down early in her tenure to map out a strategic plan for lifting the college out of relative obscurity and making it a model business school that would deserve and receive national as well as global recognition.

“Rather than trying to be like Harvard or Yale,” Hollas said, she aimed for a much more concrete approach. “She was very good at targeting metrics. She knew what it took to achieve objective metrics rather than subjective measures.”

When asked what he knew about de la Viña that explained how she not only survived in the dean’s position, but actually thrived, Hollas explained that it was her strong sense of wanting to give back to the community.

“We don’t want students to leave college […] unprepared to enter the workforce,” he said.

With that in mind, the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) was established within the College of Business under de la Viña’s direction. The center is designed to bridge the gap between students and employers.

According to CSPD officials, “by combining theory with practice, the center helps students develop a balanced portfolio of academic, career readiness and leadership skills to place them on the path to professional success. We do this by focusing on strong academic advising as well as industry and career knowledge, personal development and image enhancement.”

The center represents one of many programs instituted under de la Viña’s leadership that helped earn the College of Business top rankings by both BusinessWeek and The Princeton Review.

BusinessWeek has consistently recognized UTSA’s College of Business as one of the top part-time MBA programs for three years in a row.

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