New CBE dean will help students thrive, have some fun along the way

Aneil Mishra, Ph.D., answers questions about his plans for growing the College of Business & Economics and ensuring students’ success.

By JAMIE ABELL on August 2, 2023

Aneil Mishra and his family pose for a selfie in front of the ocean
Aneil Mishra, dean of the College of Business & Economics, poses for a photo with his wife, Karen, and two kids, Jack and Maggie, in front of the ocean at their favorite place to vacation: Kiawah Island, SC. (Photo credit: Aneil Mishra)

Aneil Mishra became the dean of the College of Business & Economics (CBE) on July 5, following his role as the dean of the School of Management at the University of Michigan-Flint. His previous posts include serving as the Thomas D. Arthur Distinguished Professor of Leadership at the College of Business at East Carolina University and associate dean for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University.

He spoke with us about his priorities for CBE and what fuels his passion for leadership.

Answers edited for clarity and conciseness.

What are you most excited about at Towson University?

I was initially attracted to finding a place where there’s a great fit, which depends on a strong student focus. I wouldn't be a dean or even a professor if I hadn't had great undergraduate and graduate school student experiences where faculty took a deeply personal interest in me. So when I started looking at the statistics TU has regarding its six-year graduation rates, internships and other things, I knew the students are the university’s top priority.

The fact this university has a diversity strategic plan and holds itself accountable to it also drew me here. Helping women and underrepresented groups, including faculty, staff and students, to thrive is one of my passions.

What are CBE’s strengths, and how will you build upon its successes?

TU has a focus on student success and an incredible Student Academic & Career Services staff. I benefited from great undergraduate advising, especially early on. I’d like to raise significant funds to equip our faculty and staff to enable our students to thrive academically and professionally and enhance the faculty’s research and engagement with the many communities we serve.

One hallmark of any great university is highly dedicated alums. I’m looking forward to partnering with the CBE Advisory Board and Young Alumni Advisory Council to help ensure the college’s long-term success.

How will you be an advocate for CBE students?

We have a student leadership council, and I’m going to ask to be included in their monthly meetings to use them as a sounding board. I also want to make sure each of the student organizations has the resources they need to support their members.

I'll be walking the halls and sticking my head into classrooms to say hello, so students know who the new dean is and that I'm somebody they can come to if they need help. We’ll also have regular informal gatherings of faculty, staff and students. I want these events to be a lot of fun, so, in addition to great food and drink, I’m also hoping to have live music from time to time.

What are your priorities for the College of Business & Economics?

I want to improve the ratings and reputation so we are recognized as the top business college in Maryland and one of the top public business schools/colleges in the country.

I’m looking forward to raising the money for our new building and providing our faculty and staff with the necessary resources to excel at an even higher level. This will include raising significantly more money for student scholarships, creating endowed professorships and endowing our academic and career advising center.

I’ll also be asking my colleagues, “Where else can we be innovative, and where can we take creative risks to better differentiate us from other colleges of business?” I’m excited to work with my fellow deans to foster greater interdisciplinary research and teaching.

I am going to build on the already successful internship program. Years from now, I want every student in CBE to have multiple internships that lead to great job offers upon graduation. I will build connections with employers and alumni to support this priority.

I want the College of Business & Economics to be a place where students work hard and play hard. I want students, staff and faculty to come to this college excited and energized. I want people to know that they’ll be recognized for their efforts and we’ll have fun together, too!

Can you tell us three fun facts about yourself?

Kona, the Yorki Poo, sitting down.
Aneil's family's dog, Kona, waiting for a cookie. (Photo credit: Aneil Mishra)

My children and my wife have always been my top priorities. Maggie, my daughter, is a social worker moving to the area soon. My son, Jack, is an accountant for Ernst & Young in Raleigh, North Carolina. My wife and most frequent co-author, Karen, is joining TU's Mass Communication department in August.

My favorite ways to relax are going to the beach, watching movies and, no surprise, reading, especially history books. History is a passion.

I have an eight-pound Yorkie Poo named Kona. I never thought I was going to be one of those dog people, but I am a dog person now. Kona has completely taken over our family but in a good way!

What is your favorite movie and why?

I have a lot of favorite movies, but I’ll have to go with Raising Arizona, starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. It’s about a guy who’s figuring out who he is and how he’s will make his way in the world while wooing and marrying the love of his life. Those themes have always resonated with me.

What advice would you like to share with the Towson University community?

To be a great leader, you need first become a great follower.