New CoBE dean looks to chart “value added” course

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642
Dir, Media Rel, University Relations
Posted: Oct 1, 2013

The new dean of the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hopes to raise the school’s profile by taking a more active role in 21st century workforce development.

Dr. Krishna Dhir’s vision would rely less on the traditional bricks and mortar model and more on aligning its teaching to support and meet the needs of local and regional businesses and non-business entities.

“Awarding degrees is fine in and of itself, but everybody does that,” Dhir explained. “To stand out and distinguish ourselves from the rest of the crowd, we need to create something of unique value.”

His entrepreneurial approach to education is also rooted in some very practical considerations. Dhir is concerned about the large number of students awarded degrees in Hawaiʻi, only to leave due to a lack of employment opportunities. He believes the best way to address the problem is to play a proactive role in the region’s economy and become recognized as a source of professional development for regional industries.

“CoBE should be a learning community that extends beyond our faculty and the building we occupy,” Dhir explained. “Both are important components, but they need not be the entire sum of its parts.”

Dhir wants to meet with leaders of various industries to learn more about the kind of workforce training their professions demand and develop programs to provide it. He believes the challenge can be met within the existing infrastructure and without having to create a host of new degree programs.

“All too often we get stuck on degree programs, but where does it say that every program has to be for credit?” Dhir asked. “In some cases, it might be more appropriate to offer a certificate program.”

He envisions creating niche programs in areas specific to the region like hotel management, eco-tourism development and management of ocean-based industries where CoBE partners with other UH Hilo colleges or other academic and non-academic institutions. Such partnerships could also be used to create new dual-degree programs.

Dhir most recently held the position of Henry Gund Professor of Management and is former Dean of the Campbell School of Business at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia. He earlier held the S.B.A. Professorship and served as Director of the School of Business Administration at the Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg, in addition to heading the Department of Business Administration at The Citadel.

He has taught as a visiting professor at universities in Australia, Hungary, India, Malaysia and the UK as well as mainland institutions that include the Medical University of South Carolina, University of Colorado in Boulder and UH Manoa.

“I believe we have an opportunity to achieve something very special,” Dhir said. “So I eagerly look forward to sharing this vision with industry leaders to build support and momentum for this effort.”