Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Legendary Florida A&M Business Dean Set to Retire: Dr. Sybil Mobley Is Recognized by Many as a Trailblazer in Business Education. (Noteworthy News)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Legendary Florida A&M Business Dean Set to Retire: Dr. Sybil Mobley Is Recognized by Many as a Trailblazer in Business Education. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

After spending the last four decades at the helm of Florida A&M University's School of Business and Industry (SBI), and creating a new standard for business programs around the country, Dr. Sybil Mobley says it's time for her to go.

Dean Mobley transformed the school of business from a program others looked at with disdain to a school now recognized nationally for its unorthodox approach and excellence. She did things her way, creating a five-year MBA program for top high school graduates who bypassed many introductory college courses by acing college entrance exams and opting for an accelerated, one-of-a-kind graduate degree.

Despite not having been awarded accreditation for the school in her most recent attempt last year, Mobley says she has no regrets as she prepares to retire this month. FAMU could have made accommodations to its program to receive accreditation, she says, but to do so would have required eliminating the school's unique curriculum that makes it so competitive.

To her, stepping aside is another way to put into practice her philosophy that business schools must perpetually change what they teach in order to prepare their students best for the real world. At this point, a new leader can help the school forge ahead in maintaining its strong offerings, she says.

"At one time, you would have a success and you would say, 'now we have to get someone else to do the same thing,'" Mobley says. "But now things are changing so much that someone else has got to come in and change it ... Someone else will come in and do it better."

Arriving at FAMU in 1963 with an MBA from the Wharton School and a doctorate in accounting from the University of Illinois, Mobley quickly broke new ground in business education. When she became the school's dean, she transformed the school's undergraduate business course into a five-year MBA program that no other institution offered.

"Her biggest achievement is that ... she in fact has created a program that is bigger than she," says Art Collins, a Washington-based lobbyist and 1982 graduate of SBI who served as FAMU's chairman of the board of trustees until this past January. "Notwithstanding the fact that she leaves some big shoes to fill, she has created an institutionalized program that will survive for years to come."

FAMU's program is different, Mobley says, because of its worldwide outlook--the school requires students to take an internship overseas in addition to internships for academic credit with a domestic company.

"What makes ours especially hot is that we don't let them go without the language, the economy, the culture, the history..." she says. "We say the globe is the unit of analysis for anything. So if we talk in finance, you've got to know the global treatment for everything."

Top officials at other HBCUs recognize Mobley as a trailblazer in business education.

"Dr. Mobley has played a significant leading role in the lifting of the prestige and impact of business education at HBCUs and for African Americans," says Dr. Lucy Reuben, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University. "She's had a very profound and indisputable impact on focusing the nation's attention to the impact that management education has had at HBCUs. …

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