Jonathon Moberly is focused on making the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business a destination for the next generation of industry leaders.
Moberly began as dean of the school this summer and is in the midst of his first academic year at CC.
The Carbondale, Illinois, native sat down with CC Connected to share his first impressions of Columbia College, his vision for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business, and his experience as a professional sports agent before a career of 17 years and counting in higher education.
CC Connected: What have been your first impressions of Columbia College?
Jon Moberly: “Everyone I have met at Columbia College has been close-knit, collaborative and supportive. Very welcoming as well. I have really felt at home here. So that’s been my first impression, and I think the city of Columbia is the same way. The amount of collaboration that goes on between all the different facets of the city and the strong relationships are pretty unique.”
CC: How would you describe your five years representing professional athletes?
Moberly: “After I finished law school, I worked for a small sports agency in St. Louis. I basically received a blank slate to go out and recruit clients. So that’s where I got my crash course in business. My sales pitch became teaching families about the National Football League and how their son fits in that and how I fit in that as an agent. Same thing with Major League Soccer and the Women’s United Soccer Association, which was a pro women’s league at that time. Things grew to where I had about 45 clients. Eventually, I decided I wanted to break away and start my own agency. I soon realized that essentially all I was doing was marketing and sales, so I decided to get my MBA while running my agency.”
CC: How did you get your start working in higher education?
Moberly: “An opportunity to teach a night class at a law school in St. Louis fell in my lap in January 2007. In May 2007, I was hooked and decided that I wanted to teach and coach. I spent the next seven years as an adjunct at multiple colleges in St. Louis simultaneously in addition to coaching high school football. My laptop and supplies were in the trunk of my car, and it got to the point that I was teaching at eight universities simultaneously. Then Concordia University in Nebraska had an opening. The next thing I knew, I was offered a job and I accepted it. That was my first full-time experience in higher ed. I was the director of the MBA program and an assistant professor in business. After the first year, I became the dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Adult Education, which I did for five years. Then I served as dean of the College of Business there for an additional four years.”
CC: What are your goals for your first year on the job at Columbia College?
Moberly: “Most of my time has been spent meeting with faculty and staff one-on-one and getting to know them and trying to move the Robert W. Plaster School of Business forward. We are going through a brand platform process. Our phase right now is figuring out who we are. January and February will be about where we want to go and developing a strong vision of where we need to be. By the end of the academic year, our goal is to retool our strategic plan to set a high bar for ourselves and really put some stakes in the ground. We are trying to put a lot of initiatives in place that help us tell a compelling story. We have a great set of faculty, we have great programs, we have been in the online space for 23 years. Now we must build a compelling story that we can go out and tell a prospective student to give them a reason that Columbia College needs to be their choice.”
“My personal vision is that the Robert W. Plaster School of Business becomes a destination for any student in the world who wants to study business.”Jonathon Moberly, dean of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business
CC: What is your vision for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business?
Moberly: “My personal vision is that the Robert W. Plaster School of Business becomes a destination for any student in the world who wants to study business. I want our students to learn what it looks like to take a project from start to finish and have the finish be an elite-level product. I want them to be able to go through the ups and downs, take feedback whether it’s positive or negative, and learn to deliver results on time in a superior manner. Along the way, they will develop the soft skills of being able to communicate, build relationships and listen.”
CC: What can students expect as you implement your vision for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business?
Moberly: “Students will be involved in developing our brand platform, mission statement, vision statement and strategic plan. Our Robert W. Plaster School of Business Advisory Board and our Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board meetings will be combined and open for students to attend, both in person and virtually. We are calling these stakeholder meetings and they will look a lot like shareholder meetings. This starts us down that path of giving our students constant hands-on experience and input into where we’re trying to head. One thing that we are keeping in mind is everything that we initiate for our students, it has to be for all our students – not just here on main campus, but Columbia College Global students as well.”
CC: What is an interesting fact about yourself?
Moberly: “I have a strong passion for coaching high school football. That lights me up. What I have learned as a coach comes out and influences what I bring to Columbia College. There are a lot of the same principles. I like to learn about how organizational leaders do what coaches do all the time – how they develop their culture, feed their culture and deal with tough situations.
“Other than that, something that nobody would know about me is that I absolutely love to beatbox.”
CC: Could you tell us a little bit about your family?
Moberly: “My wife, Dr. Jennifer Fruend, is a faculty member in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. We have two daughters, Adeline and Eloisa, who started high school and fourth grade, respectively, this fall. Our family has five dogs, six cats, 10 chickens and two turkeys, so our animals are a major part of our life every day.”