New FAMU Business Dean Promotes The Gold Ring Standard
By Marlon A. Walker
More than 20 years ago, Dr. Lydia A. McKinley-Floyd’s job was to recruit sponsors to the business program at Morehouse College. She says she was turned away at nearly every corner. “Oh, no, we’re going with the School of Business and Industry,” she remembers being told.
That’s the name of the program at Florida A&M University, founded by trailblazing businesswoman Dr. Sybil C. Mobley. More than 20 years ago, McKinley-Floyd ran into Mobley, the petite but stern head of the premier business school at a historically Black university. “I’m gonna be the next Sybil Mobley,” McKinley-Floyd thought at the time.
Now she is, having recently been named dean of the business school
McKinley-Floyd’s career has taken her to Chicago State University and, most recently, to Savannah State University, where she was the associate dean of the university’s business school. She’s spent the past two months learning the ropes and easing into her latest challenge: furthering the work of Mobley at SBI.
You gotta be careful what you wish for,” she says, sitting behind her desk in her Tallahassee office. She discusses with Diverse the famed program, her plans for its future and moving past recent missteps.
DI: What attracted you to the position at FAMU?
LM: Obviously its reputation and prestige. This is clearly a coveted position, although those who would’ve coveted it were so reluctant to go in behind Dean Mobley. Nobody wanted to follow her because of the excellent record that she developed.
DI: What are your immediate plans for the school?
LM: What I want to do is put some policies, procedures and processes in place that will enable us to be a well-run, well-operated school. Accreditation is not the goal, but will be the by-product of putting a lot of these things in place.
DI: What do you think about the school and its current situation?
LM: I think we’re in great shape. I feel we have exceptionally bright students. We have wonderful, dedicated professors, and we have a critical mass of faculty and staff who I think will buy into my vision of a
well-run, efficient and effective deliverer of business education. We’re poised to go to the next level.
DI: What changes can we expect to the curriculum?
LM: I don’t think we’ve done much in the area of entrepreneurship. We’ve done well in putting students in corporate America and they’ve been able to get good incomes. But income is one thing. Wealth creation is something else. We’ve probably not done enough or we’ve neglected entrepreneurship altogether. In this society, given the history of a lack of successful African-American businesses, I think we need to help our students prepare. This is not about income, this is about wealth. We also need to focus on preparing students to create wealth through new business development.
DI: Why, after all this time without it, is accreditation being focused on so much?
LM: It’s an interesting story. We had a retreat a couple of weeks ago. Former Clark Atlanta business school Dean Ed Davis came. They’ve been accredited since 1973. What he talked about during his presentation was, “Do you want to be known as Barkley, Ewing and Malone, or do you want to be known as Pippen, Frazier and Worthy?” These are six of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. But the first three, what don’t they have that the other three have? The rings.
DI: But you haven’t had accreditation, or “the ring.” Is there a different mindset now?
LM: We are known as the premier business school among Black colleges. And we don’t have the ring. We want it. Our mantra from this point on is “We want the ring.” We want the champ ring. Because we are the champions.
DI: What’s the importance of accreditation?
LM: Accreditation is the lay of the land. We teach accountability, so we need to be accountable to our students, their parents and to our corporate recruiters. And accreditation within itself is not the goal, but having met all the standards that accreditation requires means that we’ve been accountable on just a number of levels. That’s what it really means.
DI: Is there an update with the staffers who were fired, then rehired,
LM: They are currently not on staff. I have no idea about the resolution on that. It preceded me, and that’s where I’m leaving that. I’m focused not on where we’ve been, just where we’re going.
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