February 03, 2012  BY CBT Staff

Joan T.A. Gabel

Dean, University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business

Job description:

My job is hard to describe, but I am responsible for the success of the Trulaske College of Business as an academic unit, a community partner and as a component of the university as a whole. My priorities include cultivating an environment of learning and innovation for our students, recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and nurturing their research, building partnerships with the business community, strengthening alumni engagement and generating support for all of the above.

Years lived in Columbia:

Almost two years.

Original hometown:

I was born in New York City but grew up in Atlanta.


I received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Haverford College and a doctorate of law degree from the University of Georgia.

Community involvement:

I serve on a series of University of Missouri committees, including my role as co-chair of the Law School Dean Search Committee, member of the Center for Digital Globe Executive Board, and member of the Missouri Innovation Center Advisory Board, among others. I am also a member of the Emerging Issues Committee with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Mid-Missouri Entrepreneurial Summit 2012 Planning Committee. I’m in the early stages of a working relationship with the Assistance League. But truly, my community involvement is focused on supporting my kids’ activities around town.

Professional background:

I served previously as a DeSantis professor and chair of the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate & Legal Studies at the Florida State University (FSU) College of Business. I was also director of international relations for the College of Business at FSU. I joined FSU in 2007 after serving on the faculty of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University for 11 years. At Georgia State, I was the interim director of the Institute of International Business and faculty director of the Atlanta Compliance and Ethics Roundtable.

A favorite recent project:

A point of pride for the Trulaske College of Business and for me is the creation and establishment of our new execMBA Program, scheduled to usher in the first class of students this fall. The program is innovative and exciting, allowing us to serve a whole layer of working professionals here and beyond whom we were previously unable to touch. I am also proud of the Entrepreneurship Alliance (EA), sponsored by David Spence, which launched last fall. The EA engages students from across campus in our University-wide entrepreneurship minor focused on experiential learning opportunities that develop future entrepreneurs and leaders across disciplines.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why:

There are several. It is hard to choose among so many leaders with such success and high character. What I especially admire is that in Columbia, we have a vibrant culture of community partnership. For example, leaders at Shelter Insurance, the major banks and accounting firms, among others, partner with us on research and student programs. With regard to entrepreneurship, this city has cultivated remarkable successes with businesses such as MBS Textbook Exchange, JES Holdings, Maly Realty, Veterans United Home Loans and others. I admire the entrepreneurs who are creating exciting new projects, including Brian Null of Mo.com and The League of Innovators, housed in Museao and led by Brent Beshore. I am also so pleased that Tim Wolfe, an accomplished business leader and a Trulaske College of Business alumnus, is now leading the University of Missouri System. What they’ve all done is great, but what I admire is that they give back and work with us to develop the next generation, and that’s really something.

Why I’m passionate about my job:

I think I have the best job in the world. Not only do I work with accomplished and intelligent people, but I also interact with and influence the next generation of business leaders. Life is never dull, and the work is incredibly rewarding.

Biggest career obstacle I’ve overcome and how:

Before coming to the University of Missouri to interview, I had never set foot on campus. As a new face, I had a steep learning curve to climb. I have been working to acclimate to the university community and establish partnerships with my peers and colleagues. I am very lucky to be part of a supportive network.

What people should know about this profession:

It’s a difficult job with many moving parts. The reward of seeing each graduating class, each new program and each impactful faculty publication is more than sufficient. It’s a fantastic profession.

What I do for fun:

I travel with my family, I read and I walk MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.


My husband, Gary, is an assistant principal at Gentry Middle School. We have three children who are happily enrolled in the Columbia Public Schools.

Favorite place in Columbia:

I love Kaldi’s Coffeehouse. Not only does the place have a great vibe, but its policies on fair trade sourcing and commitment to environmental stewardship are commendable. Plus Kaldi’s was founded by a highly engaged Trulaske College of Business alumna, Tricia Zimmer Ferguson.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of:

Personally, I am most proud of my family. Professionally, without a doubt the offer of deanship for the Trulaske College of Business was my proudest moment. It feels like the culmination of much hard work.

Most people don’t know that I:

I grew up in a household of football and baseball fans, and the first basketball game I ever attended was here at Mizzou. It’s easy to add basketball to the sports I already enjoy in a place like this.

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