Of all the disciplines one could study at the College of William and Mary, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business’s new dean, Todd Mooradian, believes business is the most fun.
“Business is about organizing human endeavor to change the world, and it’s the most fun,” Mooradian said. “And it’s a very eclectically based set of disciplines, where we tie to psychology, we tie to social sciences, we tie to math… It’s an eclectic group of disciplines coming together to study how we organize human effort to get something done.”
“Business is about organizing human endeavor to change the world, and it’s the most fun”
Raised in a New Hampshire college town, Mooradian has spent his entire life living and working at universities. His father was the football coach and then the athletic director at the University of New Hampshire, and his mother was an art instructor and librarian who worked at local public schools.
Despite his upbringing in what he described as an “idyllic college town,” Mooradian originally did not want to pursue a career in higher education.
“I didn’t know I wanted to go into higher education, I thought I wanted to go into business and be an entrepreneur,” Mooradian said. “…And after I got my MBA and I was working, I realized that my passions were somewhere else. Consulting and business were interesting, but I decided to go on and get a Ph.D. and go into higher education. And that, in retrospect, was exactly the right decision.”
After graduating with his doctorate, Mooradian became a professor at the Mason School of Business in 1990. Serving as a trusted and involved member of the faculty for the next 27 years, Mooradian was named an associate dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs at the Mason School of Business in 2014.
“I love teaching, I love advising, I loved research when I was able to do it, and now I actually love being an administrator,” Mooradian said. “I think that in some ways I am an entrepreneur in higher education because the way higher education has evolved, things are changing all the time. We need to change our organizations. We need to organize human effort against new offerings and programs. And so I feel like I’ve finally become the entrepreneur I thought I would be when I went to get my MBA a long time ago.”
In 2017, Mooradian became the dean for the University of Louisville College of Business, where he would go on to be awarded for his efforts in developing and launching new programs, such as a Master of Science in Business Analytics, an online MBA and a Bachelor of Business Administration.
It would not be until 2022 that he returned home to Williamsburg after a national search led him to being named the new dean.
“What really brought me back were the professional aspects of the return, and that is that I believe in this place, I believe in the philosophy of education and believe in the people,” Mooradian said. “We have extraordinary people. The staff. I mean, just walking across campus and seeing the staff and people that are administrators, people that I’ve worked with for forever. We have an incredible faculty. We have wonderful alumni… And then, of course, our students. I think William and Mary students are incredible… at William and Mary, you get the brightest young people. There is also a particular character to a William and Mary person. There’s a sort of integrity and a commitment to knowledge and curiosity. I thought this place could be anything. From here, we can do anything.”
Mooradian said he appreciates the College’s commitment to looking towards the future and being an innovative institution, which was also what drove him to return as the new business dean.
“Our new leadership is committed to redefining the future and making William and Mary relevant to the future,” Mooradian said. “Not just a place that people come and say, ‘Isn’t this traditional?’ But they come and say, ‘Isn’t this innovative? Isn’t this impactful?’ So I came back because it was home. I came back because my experience here was that it’s wonderful, and especially its people are wonderful. But mostly I came back because I believe the leadership of William and Mary today is forward-looking in really exciting ways, and there’s no limit to what we can do.”
As the new dean, Mooradian is addressing what he refers to as “managerial tasks and leadership tasks.” For managerial tasks, this involves reengaging students and faculty post-pandemic, giving them the experience they deserve at a traditional university. This also includes budget and portfolio issues, assessing the business school’s variety of programs.
As a leader, Mooradian hopes to redefine the school’s brand around the notion of polymaths, which is defined as a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.
“William and Mary has this renaissance person tradition,” Mooradian said. “What we need to do is to redefine that in the business school, to create managers who are polymaths, who are renaissance people, who are able to solve problems from many perspectives. And I think that no other university in the world is positioned as well as William and Mary to make that our forward-looking brand.”
Mooradian is ready to ask the tough questions, such as: why isn’t the College or its school of business ranked in the low twenties, or why isn’t it moving towards the twenties?
“The world needs us: there’s plenty of evidence the world needs range, we give students range and we get the best students in the world,” Mooradian said. “Why aren’t we moving up in everyone’s understanding of the College of William and Mary and what it can do for the world? That’s my leadership challenge, is to take our light out from under a bushel. Let the world know how great William and Mary is. Make sure we’re getting recognized and that we are a global brand and that we are one of the best business schools in the world at executing our values and our philosophy.”
“Why aren’t we moving up in everyone’s understanding of the College of William and Mary and what it can do for the world? That’s my leadership challenge, is to take our light out from under a bushel. Let the world know how great William and Mary is. Make sure we’re getting recognized and that we are a global brand and that we are one of the best business schools in the world at executing our values and our philosophy.”
For students considering studying at the Mason School of Business, Mooradian recognizes that Alan Miller Hall’s grandeur can be a little off-putting, but he emphasizes that the school welcomes all students to come and learn about business.
“[Students] should know that they own this building,” Mooradian said. “The dean doesn’t own it. The faculty don’t own it. The staff don’t own it. Our students own it. It’s here for our students. So even if they look across and say, ‘wow, I don’t know if that place is for me, it seems very impressive and off-putting.’ It shouldn’t be off-putting. It should be a place that they can walk into, dressed just as they would dress for a class in English or history or chemistry. Come in here and learn to be a professional and impact the world through business. You own this building and we are welcoming to all students.”