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WSU Center for Entrepreneurship operating without director, faculty member

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, May 20, 2013, at 8:27 p.m.

The Center for Entrepreneurship at Wichita State University is feeling its loss of key personnel.

WSU was to host a prestigious academic conference on entrepreneurship in the fall, but school officials canceled the event after center director Tim Pett was place on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons and center faculty member Ron Christy died.

Keith Pickus, WSU’s interim provost, said Pett remains on leave. Pickus declined to comment beyond that. Pickus wouldn’t say when a decision on Pett’s permanent status would be made nor whether an interim director would be named.

“It’s a personnel issue,” he said.

But the center will continue to function despite the two losses, said Don Hackett, a professor at the center and a former director.

The center still has four faculty members: Gaylen Chandler, Chris Broberg, Jim Wolff and Hackett.

The center mainly teaches and advises students, so its activities naturally slow in the summer. That gives the school more time to adjust, Hackett said.

For instance, Christy founded and led the Kansas Family Business Forum for years. An existing WSU business faculty member is being considered for the post, although he hasn’t officially been offered the job, yet.

But Hackett said that Christy’s loss will be hard to absorb, even if his position is filled. Christy both taught classes and owned and ran multiple businesses.

“I guess everyone is replaceable,” he said, “but he had 35 years here. He forgot more about business than a lot of us in academe will ever know. He was our great applications guy.”

Complicating the school’s ability to deal with the losses is the fact that the Doug Hensler, Pett’s boss and dean of the Barton School of Business, is leaving for another position.

Hensler’s interim replacement, Cindy Claycomb, takes over as dean June 2. Pickus said that a permanent dean will likely be named by next spring.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com.

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