SBI founder prepares for retirement

After almost 30 years as dean of the School of Business and Industry, Sybil Mobley is saying goodbye to the school she helped to create.

Mobley started her career at the university in 1963 as director of the department of business, then a part of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1974, the division developed into what is now known as SBI, with Mobley at the helm.

“I never aimed for anything but the top,” she said. “I knew we had the potential to become an outstanding and recognized program.”

With the creation of the SBI, Mobley launched what she called an “innovative approach to business teaching.”

“SBI dared to pursue a different format,” Mobley said. “It was risky, but we decided that the business world had changed, so we needed a program that could address all qualities and assure much greater personal growth.”

That sparked the birth of the five-year MBA program, also designed to increase the number of blacks with MBAs.

Mobley said she is most proud of the school’s graduates and faculty. She said the school has had a lot of its dreams come true, the main one being “abandoning the image of a minority school trying to catch up with the others.”

Through building strong corporate relationships and clinching financial support from several companies, Mobley has established SBI as a top business school. Mobley also serves on several company boards of directors and was the first black woman on the board of Sears, Roebuck & Company.

The greatest legacy, Davies-Venn said, are the corporate relationships

Mobley established.

“Whether it’s internships or permanent placement, everybody in SBI benefits from it,” said Levy Anthony, 22, a fifth-year business student from St. Louis.

Anthony has been offered a permanent position with Deloitte and Touche, a job that he says is partially due to the relationship the company had with the school.

Anthony and others said that they would like to see certain qualities in SBI’s next dean.

“(I would like to see) a younger person, someone with a strong track record educationally and someone with strong corporate relationships,”

Anthony said.

“I would want someone who is forward thinking and who has tangible goals for us, one of them being accreditation,” said Esther Davies-Venn, 20, a junior business student from Germantown, Md.

Mobley said that no search committee has been formed to find a new dean. She said that in her retirement, effective June 30, she plans to devote more time to her children and grandchildren.

Rahkia Nance can be reached at