James F. Ryerson
subscribes to the basic leadership principle of surrounding yourself with bright, competent people and asking how you can help them succeed. Not only has Ryerson taught the concept during his 35 years at Marymount University, he has modeled the behavior during the past 11 years as dean of the School of Business Administration.
“I feel that we’ve had a really strong, competent team and a big part of my job was to get out of their way and let them flourish,” said Ryerson, who ended his tenure as dean this summer. After a fall sabbatical, he’ll be back in the classroom as a member of the teaching faculty for the spring semester.
That won’t be the only big change for Ryerson. Upon his return, he’ll be teaching marketing in Marymount’s new Ballston Center. Opening this month, it will house the entire School of Business Administration as well as select other MU programs and offices. Features include a cybersecurity lab, functioning stocks and bonds trading room for students, 200-seat auditorium and, of course, the latest technological advances.
“The new space is wonderful in the sense that it’s designed and built for the way colleges and universities operate today,” he said. “Visually it’s going to be very powerful. We want to inspire people and get them excited about learning, and really want it to be their home.”
Marymount President Matthew D. Shank said Ryerson has served the School of Business Administration with great integrity and passion.
“The number of students impacted by him as a faculty member and dean is enormous,” he added. “He has developed new academic programs, led the school through the transition to a new building, and positioned it well for years to come.”
Shank also called him “one of the kindest people” he has ever met.
“This translates into great care that he provides each student and faculty member that he encounters,” Shank said. “He is a role model in that way for all of us at Marymount. He will be greatly missed as dean, but the students he will serve in the classroom will continue to benefit from his continued presence at Marymount.”
Marymount’s Board of Visitors thanked Ryerson for his service at its summer meeting and presented him with a framed photo of the new Ballston Center. Board Chair Ed Zigo said Ryerson’s personality, wisdom, knowledge and passion represent the grand slam of what it means to be a top-notch educator.
“Marymount is extremely lucky to have him,” Zigo said.
Ryerson, who says he strove to instill a sense of civility and mutual respect throughout the school, characteristically deflected credit to Dr. Catherine England
, who was his associate dean for 10 years before she returned to the classroom to teach finance.
“She was a fabulous partner, and any success we’ve had has been equally hers,” Ryerson said.
“We’ve emphasized that while students come to programs in business to acquire as much knowledge as they can in things like finance or marketing, it’s also hugely important that they layer in skills like critical thinking, functioning as part of a team and being able to give presentations,” he said. “Those things set you apart in the workforce.”
He’s proud that the school has all the traditional business degrees, plus information technology programs, cybersecurity and graduate programs in health care management.
“As a result, many of our graduate students are able to leave with not one master’s degree, but two,” he said.
He also praised Marymount’s popular Global Classroom Series, which provides a weeklong international field experience as part of a three-credit, full-semester course. Ryerson has taken students to China and Panama, and students have options to travel to many other countries, too.
A member of the Marymount faculty since 1982, Ryerson was previously chair of the Management and Marketing Department. In 2005, he was named the inaugural recipient of the university’s Robert A. Draghi Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2004, he was the first winner of the School of Business Administration’s Outstanding Colleague Award.
Ryerson said the timing was right to pass the leadership torch to incoming dean Dr. Marianne Ward-Peradoza
“I kind of view myself as our linkage to the past and she’s going to be our bridge to the future,” he said. “I’m excited about everything she’ll do with us and for us.”
Marymount University is an independent, coeducational Catholic university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines.
James Ryerson was honored by the Board of Visitors for his 11 years as dean of Marymount University’s School of Business Administration and his 35 years of service to Marymount University. Pictured from left, David Zwerski, David Seiders, Bill Walsh, Kim Clark Pakstys, Garrett O’Shea, Ed Zigo, Ryerson, Mike Kennedy, Yong Kim, Angela Diaz, Wayne Cyron, Mary Carson and Michael Ferraro.