Header (Photo by Sam Mallon)

WKU student plays role of dean for a day

Gordon Ford College of Business Dean Christopher Shook traded the desk in his office for a desk in a classroom on Oct. 24. For one day, he and Seth Newby, a junior from Magnolia, traded roles as dean and student. 

Shook, who served as the Sprunk & Burnham Endowed Dean at the University of Montana College of Business, wanted to bring a tradition from his old university to his first year on the Hill. 

“It was really helpful for me since I’d never taught here; I’d never been a student here, so this was a way for me to see the student experience,” Shook said. “It’s also a good way to highlight what things we do for students.” 

Shook came to WKU from the University of Montana and brought the idea of Dean for a Day with him. This is Shook’s first year at WKU, and he felt Dean for a Day would give him an idea of what it is like to be a student, since he has never had that experience. “I didn’t go to school here, and this is my first year,” Shook said. “This gives me a chance to see what it’s like.” (Photo by Lily Thompson)

Shook said the business college strives to be student-centric, and his experience as a student for a day confirmed this. He spent the day taking Newby’s insurance class and speaking with an academic adviser about what life was like as a business analytics major. 

His plan as dean is to improve retention and graduation rates  and build a strong community for both students, staff and faculty in the business college. 

“One of the most important things for student retention is if they feel a part,” Shook said. “If a freshman comes and feels a part of things they’re much more likely to come back as a sophomore.” 

Shook’s day consisted of classes, advising and a trip to the PEAK Professional Clothes Closet. The Clothes Closet is a nonprofit on campus where students can get interview clothes for no cost to them. Dean for a Day was a fundraiser for the program. Dean Shook has a personal connection to the nonprofit. “I grew up in modest means,” Shook said. “So I remember barely being able to afford that first suit.” (Photo by Lily Thompson)


At the beginning of September, Shook challenged organizations within the business college to raise money for the PEAK Professional Clothes Closet, a program that offers professional clothing for students who do not have access to professional attire. Newby represented the Gordon Ford College of Business Ambassadors, the winner of the competition, and was offered the opportunity to be dean for the day.

For Newby, it was an opportunity to gain job experience and learn more about the business college. Newby studies financial planning. As dean, he attended meetings with department heads in the business college, the Alumni Association and business college donors, and he spoke with the budget coordinator. 

“Navigating the discussions today with potential donors about how they can give back and having that type of discussion really prepares me for sitting down with a client and discussing their finances,” Newby said. “I was definitely in his shoes for the day.” 

Gordon Ford College of Business held its very first “Dean for a Day”, a program where Christopher Shook, the business college dean, switches places with a student for the whole day. Seth Newby, a junior from Magnolia, was the acting dean for the business college on Oct. 24. (Photo by Lily Thompson)

Princeton junior Laurie Cortner, one of Newby’s classmates, took notes while Newby was performing as the dean and spoke with Shook while he was attending Newby’s class. 

“I thought it was really cool that he decided to see what a student’s life was like for their own perspective,” Cortner said. “He got to see how our day actually goes. It’s not like you get to do whatever you want to and make your own schedule. We’re actually busy.”

Shook plans to make Dean for a Day an annual event, and Newby said it’s a great opportunity. 

“It’s an incredible experience,” Newby said. “I’m glad I’m the person who got to do it.” 

Newby followed the dean’s typical schedule, beginning with a meeting with the with the business college administrative council. Newby’s day included meetings and a luncheon with a donor to the business college. “I think it says a lot of Dean Shook’s character that he wants to do this and know what it’s like to be a student here at Western,” Newby said. (Photo by Lily Thompson)