Rendezvous with the Dean

A 1974 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William & Mary, he received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia. BizBeat had the honor to interview none other than our very own Dean of Mason Business School – Mr. Larry Pulley. Dean Pulley has been serving in the capacity of Dean since 1998. Here is your chance to get to know Dean Pulley more if you didn’t get the chance before!

Q:What is your most memorable moment at Mason?
LP: Oh God!! There have been so many. I have to say that the most memorable individual moments were when in November of 2005 we became the Mason School of Business and when in 2009 we dedicated this building.

Q: What does your normal day look like?
LP: You know it is a start to finish day. There is probably no such thing as a normal day because I travel a lot. And usually when I’m here I’m running to Richmond for lunch or even to Washington DC. Whenever I’m here at Miller I have a very busy schedule because there are millions of things that come up. I always look forward to times when I can sit down and think about things but mostly that’s on Saturdays. It’s a big challenge and hard to figure out that I’m spending time on things that matter most to the business school and not on other things.

Q: Have you ever been tempted to leave this position as Dean of the Mason School and try something else?
LP: I do get information about positions in other schools and I get contacted by headhunters a lot. Even close friends approach me to think about that for my career, but it’s hard for me to think about how I could be as passionate for any other school as I am for William & Mary. I’ve been here, my brothers and sisters, our father, his brothers and sisters and now our two children go here. And the other thing is that we made such great progress as a school but there are still some things that I would like to the school accomplish before I hand it over to the next person. We are also looking at putting the business school on a more sustainable and solid footing financially. I would like to see us get on a strong trajectory through some strategic initiatives that we have taken for the school.

Q: What is one destination abroad that you are looking forward to visiting?
LP: I was thinking about this the other day. When I’m traveling I really don’t get time to do any sightseeing. Almost every place I go to, that’s a bit different, I am thinking that I wish I could have brought my family. I would like to really spend more time in Asia. I am associated with a group that has affiliations with a lot of Asian schools and travels frequently to Tokyo. I am looking forward to that trip.

Q: If you were not the dean at Mason, where would you have been?
LP: To be honest with you I can’t really imagine a place where I would rather be. I was on the faculty here before I became dean and it was not something that I had planned for, it was just an opportunity that came along and there was support from the people around me and I took it. Quite frankly, I am honored and grateful to have had this opportunity and have never given much thought to what I would be doing if I was not at this post.

Q: What do you like the most about working in Williamsburg?
LP: I have been a student here and graduated in the year 1974 and I never really thought about coming back. But I have been to many big cities like New York a lot and I think the pace of life here in Williamsburg is good. It has 4 seasons; winter is relatively mild and summers may be hot and humid but most places are air conditioned so it’s alright. Overall it is a comfortable place to live in and is a nice place to raise a family.

Q: Which is the next movie that you are planning to watch?
LP: Usually for my recreation I go to the sporting events here at William and Mary but my wife is a huge movie fan and every Thanksgiving we would drive to Ohio to spend time with my wife’s parents and usually I would watch my years’ worth of movies there. But I can tell you one that I am planning to watch and is very high on my radar is “Lincoln”.

Q: As a dean what are the good and not so good part of the job?
LP: The best part is working with students, faculty and staff in the school, alumni, donors, and the board members outside to make new and different things happen. Miller Hall is great visible example of that. The worst thing is getting tied up in bureaucracy anywhere and some of that is a necessary part of the job but it’s just not a necessary part of me. Most certainly not something I enjoy doing.

Q: If you could wave a magic wand and change something about Mason, what would it be?
LP: That’s an interesting question! Since I am involved so much in the strategic planning process, activities and initiatives I kind of long to sort of jump ahead and see what we would have accomplished. So if I had a magic wand I would love to see the future and how we have performed.

Q: With thanksgiving coming up, which is your favorite cuisine?
LP: Part of this job is that I get to travel a lot and meet people over meals, visit good restaurants and I am tempted in the extreme. I grew up in Virginia Beach and my parents also from Virginia so I have had a lot of Virginia home style cooked food. I also love trying new things wherever I am. But if I were to pick one dish it would be the “Pecan Pie” that is long time seasonal favorite for me.

Q: Was there any subject in school that you particularly did not like?
LP: There wasn’t really a subject that I did not like, as there was always a great deal I learned from them. However, I do remember that at one point I wanted to major in sociology and I think the introductory course I had was just a wrong fit at the wrong time for me. It was particular to that course that it really did anything but build my enthusiasm for Sociology and in retrospect I think it was a good thing.

Q: Is there a message that you want to give to the Mason MBAs?
LP: THANKS FOR BEING HERE!! I hope that the students feel as fortunate to be part of this community as I do. We have our challenges,    we    have    our opportunities, and we have a lot of things we are working on but it’s really a great place to be part of.

We thank Dean Pulley for sharing his experiences and thoughts with us. We are glad to have a revolutionary leader and representative of Mason Business School Community. Go Tribe!

Ed. Note: This was originally published in the Dec. 9, 2012 issue of BizBeat.

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Divya Singla

Divya Singla is a first-year MBA student with the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary.

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