Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Lutgert College of Business has a new dean – Christopher Westley, Ph.D. Westley has served as interim dean since April 2019. He originally came to FGCU in 2015 as a professor of economics and director of the Regional Economic Research Institute.
“We are confident Dr. Westley will continue to move the college forward and further establish the Lutgert College of Business as a critical player in the economic growth of the region, while producing highly qualified graduates who will successfully compete at the regional, national and international levels,” Interim Provost James Llorens, Ph.D., wrote in an email to the campus.
While he has been interim dean, the permanent role now gives Westley the opportunity to implement his vision for Lutgert. Of primary importance is the college’s relationship with the community. The new dean wants to enhance the college’s role in Southwest Florida and develop stronger ties among the faculty, students and business community.
“Through my work in the Regional Economic Research Institute, I have become familiar with the business communities in each of the five counties FGCU serves,” Westley said. “I have a sense for what they’re looking for in terms of graduates and how that’s changing over time. There’s no better example of this than the work already happening to create a Master’s in Healthcare Management.”
“That’s in response to an industry demand that goes back a long time,” Westley said. “There are a lot of other areas of collaboration that the college could pursue in response to community needs. Some possibilities are in extended living care management or work with the School of Entrepreneurship. Both of those examples are vital to our region and areas we’re looking at for expansion.”
Connected to his focus on the community, Westley has several priorities. Chief among them is reaccreditation.
“Next month I am going to be attending my first AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) meeting as dean. That’s the body that accredits the business schools. My goal is to become so well acquainted with the process that, sometime before Lutgert’s next reaccreditation, I can serve on an accrediting team for another school,” Westley said.
He also is looking at enrollment opportunities, the college’s ranking and fundraising. He sees online and hybrid education, including more certificate programs, playing a bigger role in the college’s offerings. Plans to strengthen the School of Resort & Hospitality Management, based on input from the industry, are also moving forward.
“It all comes back to the community,” Westley said. “I look forward to telling the Lutgert story – what the college does, our contribution to the region, the jobs our graduates hold, and the economic impact of the college in Southwest Florida. I also invite the business community to be part of the college as guest lecturers, adjunct instructors, advisory board members and financial contributors.”
Ultimately, Westley is excited to take on this new challenge.
“I’m really thankful for the chance to lead what I think is the best faculty and staff in the state,” he said. “They’re top-notch, successful and great colleagues. It’s an honor to be associated with them.”
Throughout his time at FGCU, Westley’s work has focused on Southwest Florida. As director of the Regional Economic Development Institute, he created the Industry Diversification Project. It tracks the Industry Diversification Index that measures how diversified economies are by Florida MSA, workforce region and every U.S. state. The index ranks Florida and Southwest Florida against other regions based on business diversity. He also oversees the creation of the annual Southwest Florida Workforce Overview Study, the quarterly Executive Business Climate Survey, and the monthly Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators report.
A prolific writer, his scholarly articles have appeared in Economics and Politics, Constitutional Political Economy, the Eastern Economics Journal, the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, and the International Journal of Social Economics. In addition, Westley has published more than 100 economics columns, including some that have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, the Christian Science Monitor, several Florida newspapers, as well as business and public policy journals throughout the U.S.
Westley earned his Ph.D. from Auburn University, and he taught economics at Jacksonville State University prior to joining FGCU. Westley is an associated scholar at the Mises Institute and an adjunct scholar at the Acton Institute. He also serves on many economic-related boards and committees.
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