Faculty of Management introduces Ellis as dean

Believing that the foundation of a successful business begins by developing strong interpersonal relationships, Dr. Robert James Ellis is looking forward to taking on his new role as dean of the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge, an institution rooted in its personal approach.

"I have always found people to be the most interesting aspect of business," says Ellis. "So much of business and so much of administrative work involves building relationships with other people, with students and with faculty members. I've had the opportunity to meet with both students and faculty at the U of L and I was tremendously impressed by how forward looking and enthusiastic they were. The innovative things the faculty are doing, both in their research and in their programs, has me very excited about the future."

Ellis, who is taking over for Dr. Murray Lindsay as he returns to the academic community, comes to the
U of L from the University of Northern British Columbia where he has served as Chair for the School of Business since 2005. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles over the span of 24 years at Wilfrid Laurier University, including associate dean of business: faculty development and research. Ellis takes up his new position at the University of Lethbridge on July 1, 2010.

"Dr. Ellis is known as someone who is a strong recruiter of talented faculty, and is adept at creating an environment that both supports excellence in teaching and innovative research," says Dr. Bill Cade, the U of L's President and Vice-Chancellor. "He has displayed a unique skill of being able to develop relationships with the business community and subsequently integrate those affiliations into the creation of original programming."

With a background in psychology, Ellis gained the notion that he could marry his field of study with the business world by following the lead of his masters' advisor, who held a joint PhD in business and psychology. It led him to focus his research interests on issues related to management and organizational behaviour, leadership skills, group dynamics and motivation.

"I focused on the human side of business rather than on the numbers side," says Ellis. "Topics such as teamwork, motivation, leadership – those were always my areas of interest, and I think that's why I went into administration. I've always been able to work well with people and so much of administrative work is about building relationships with other people."

A father of two, his sons have followed in his footsteps, each gravitating to one aspect of his research personality. One son is set to graduate from UNBC in May with a degree in finance and marketing while the other is completing a psychology degree.

Ellis looks to the U of L as a place of incredible opportunity. He enters the Faculty of Management as it is poised to take up residence in the brand new Markin Hall building.

"Markin Hall will be a wonderful place to study management education, and for management educators, faculty and staff to work together and exchange ideas about how to create new programs and courses for our students," says Ellis.
His current research interests are also uniquely suited to the southern Alberta area.

Keen on creating increased opportunities for students, Ellis is particularly interested in opening the business world to the aboriginal population.

"One of the things I've been thinking about very much is how we can increase access for aboriginal peoples within our business programs," he says. "The number of students pursuing business who are aboriginal is very low all across Canada, and I think it's important to increase their opportunity to study."