Professor ready to handle business

Run DMC. Frankie Beverly. Sadé. Plus a variety of new school rappers too? Who new the interim dean of the Florida A&M University’s School of Business & Industry had such an eclectic taste in music.

Constantly on the go, standing no more than 5’6, with her Bluetooth earpiece and smart-phone in hand, Shawnta Friday-Stroud enjoys letting her hair down and relaxing just like anyone else, but when it comes to taking care of business, she does just that. Ask anyone on campus about her, from faculty to students, one of the first things mentioned is Friday-Stroud’s impeccable performance as chair of the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools leadership team.

As chairperson, Friday-Stroud was given the nickname, “The General,” because of her ability to orchestrate the necessary activities to keep FAMU going strong and producing quality students.

“I admire her role as an educator and as an administrator,” said Cynthia Hughes- Harris FAMU provost.  “She excelled in her role with the SACS reaffirmation initiative and I’m confident her skills will prepare the school [SBI] as it begins its next step into the future.”

While working on the SACS committee, Friday-Stroud said she discovered FAMU does many things on campus very well. The university completed the process with only two recommendations and excelled in the areas of administrative processes and procedures, and academic freedom.  There was only one standard the university did not meet out of a total of 77 compliance standards SACS required. The standard that was not met was related to professors’ qualifications in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

 “When people have to pull and work together, they can,” said “The General.” “The teamwork [with SACS] was unbelievable.”

Gita Pitter, associate vice president of institutional effectiveness, said Friday-Stroud is a hard worker and will be a great asset to the growth of SBI.

“As chair of the SACS leadership team, she demonstrated exceptional ability to establish and meet high standards, organize a complex university wide effort, and engender strong teamwork to get the job done,” Pitter said. “I am sure these skills will serve SBI well.”

Friday-Stroud was recently placed in charge of up to 1190 students in SBI as well as a team of faculty members and said she expects nothing but the best of their performance.
In between rushing from one meeting to the other, back-to-back phone calls, and class, the FAMU alumna found time to pull out her 15 inch, hot pink Apple laptop to explain her vision for SBI.

“I want SBI to fully live out its vision, value, and mission statement. That’s my long term goal,” said Friday-Stroud.

In the meantime, she has four short term priorities to fulfill until the permanent dean is chosen by fall 2009:

  • Expected acceptance to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—a specialized accreditation agency in which SBI is currently in candidacy for
  • Establish a culture of teamwork: highlighting the areas of accountability, transparency, and high expectations for faculty and students
  • Recruit more students for the School of Business & Industry
  • Transform professional development in SBI

Friday-Stroud, a professor of management, said SBI already has great faculty, students, and the desire to excel, but she feels there is always room for improvement. She wants to get back to the basics, but with a “21st century twist.”

Friday-Stroud thinks it is critical to reach the new generation of students—a group she refers to as “millennials”—students who are technologically and digitally savvy and think they’re good at multi-tasking.

As she hurries to her evening class, Friday-Stroud waves and greets a number of people along the way.

“As an alumna of SBI, she has a passion for serving the school and seeing it grow,” Pitter said.

When asked how her students would describe her, Friday-Stroud simply said, “tough, but fair.” Her students however weren’t as modest.

Friday-Stroud’s students possess a high level of respect and admiration for her, but still feel comfortable enough with her to share a few laughs before class.

“Dr. Friday-Stroud has to be one of the most honest, passionate, and stern professors that I’ve taken a class with,” said Margus Slaughter, 23, a graduating MBA candidate.

“She has set an example for other professors to instill drive and motivation in their students the way she has in us,” Slaughter added.

A large number of Friday-Stroud’s students feel she pushes them to excel, but it’s that high expectation the students feel will prepare them for the real world.

“As a professor, she’s humble, respectable, and very thorough,” said Stevonne Ballou, another graduating MBA student.  “She shows concern in student’s professional and personal lives during their matriculation through SBI and after graduation.”

Friday-Stroud said she is most proud of her upbringing. She’s grateful her parents instilled strong values and work ethic in her and her siblings. To relieve stress, Friday-Stroud enjoys traveling and dancing—but with the recent transition, she hasn’t had much time for either.

Though Friday-Stroud is equipped with the experience and qualifications to fulfill her role as interim dean, “the General” would be no where without her troops.

“She’s going to clean house and make SBI a business unit,” said R.J. Allen, a fifth-year MBA student.  “I have no doubt she can turn SBI around.”