Gary C. Fethke Bio

Gary C. Fethke

Former Dean of the Business School and Interim President

University of Iowa

For 12 years as dean, Gary Fethke envisioned a future for the Tippie College of Business and worked with many people to make it happen. During his tenure as dean, he focused on keeping the college competitive, forward-looking and financially sound.

By working closely with great Iowa entrepreneurs, alumni and business leaders, Fethke established significant programs that helped the economy of the state as well as thousands of Iowa graduates. His relationships with John Pappajohn and Tom Bedell resulted in two outstanding entrepreneurial initiatives.

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) provides programs for students, youth and community members that instill the principles of entrepreneurship. Founded in 1996, JPEC is widely regarded for being in the top 10 percent of entrepreneurial centers nationally. Each year, more than 2,000 students enroll in entrepreneurship courses offered through JPEC, and many graduate with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship.

The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) is a young entrepreneur’s dream. Dedicated office space and mentoring programs help UI students take the seed of an idea and turn it into a viable, profitable entity.

By utilizing key partnerships and private support, Fethke established many value-added student experiences.

One example, the Hawkinson Institute, provides top undergraduate students with access to prestigious investment banks and other financial services firms that do not routinely recruit at Iowa. Internship placement is key, and students frequently return for their last semester with a job offer in hand.

Other finance initiatives have provided hands-on fund management experiences to Tippie students. Whether it be in the undergraduate Krause Fund or the MBA Henry Fund, alumni from these programs are putting the Tippie College on the map.

The Judith R. Frank Business Communication Center and the Early Admission Program are examples of Fethke’s vision and follow-through. Fethke and Nancy Hauserman, then associate dean for the Undergraduate Program, had heard from employers that business students needed better communication skills. Developed in 2000, the center helps business students improve those skills, whether writing a proposal, accounting memo or business plan, or making a presentation. Since its creation in 1998, the Early Admission Program (now the Direct Admission Program), has admitted approximately 50 top first-year students directly into the Tippie College each year.

Tippie MBA programs also expanded under his leadership. Building on the national rankings of the Full-time MBA Program, the MBA for Professionals and Managers (MBA-PM) Program is now offered around the state in Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities and Des Moines.

The Executive MBA (EMBA) Program offers upper-level managers with the business training and insights both they and their companies need. In addition, the college responded to industry needs by developing the Dual Master’s Degree Program in which graduates receive both an MBA degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in systems engineering from Iowa State University.

The first University of Iowa degree presented outside the United States was through the International Executive MBA Program in Hong Kong. Although many of the students there are working professionals, managers and entrepreneurs from Hong Kong, nearly one-third are from Taiwan and mainland China.

Through private donations, Fethke established the Faculty Research Fellowship Program, which provides much-needed salary support to tenure-track faculty. Most of the chaired professorships and named professorships also were the result of private giving.

His ability to communicate the need for private support among the college’s alumni and friends resulted not only in scholarships and faculty support but in the naming of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business and in facilities such as the John Pappajohn Business Building, the Pomerantz Center and the BELL. A significant gift from Jerre and Mary Joy Stead helped the college develop and support the latest in instructional technology and services. In addition, the funds will provide future resources for programming and faculty support.

Fethke’s belief in elevating the student experience is evident in the facilities managed by the Tippie College. Twelve years ago, the College opened the doors to the new Pappajohn Business Building which today, thanks to dedicated maintenance, looks as impressive as it did then. In addition, the new Pomerantz Center, located just north of the John Pappajohn Business Building, is a spectacular facility that draws attention to the University of Iowa and its programming. The building showcases Fethke’s vision of how student and career services should be approached. When completed in spring 2005, it became one of the nation’s only university facilities dedicated to enhancing students’ total educational experience—from admission to graduation and beyond. With Fethke’s help and the support of many generous donors, more than 80 percent of the Pomerantz Center building was funded privately, a significant accomplishment for any university.

When Fethke stepped down as dean, many initiatives were under development or just beginning: undergraduate and MBA students and faculty have more opportunities to interact internationally, and the Vaughan Institute for Risk Management and Insurance was on the threshold of helping Iowa’s economy by educating future insurance leaders in the state and around the world.

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