Dávila Named Harrison College of Business Dean at Southeast

Dr. Alberto Dávila of Edinburg, Texas, professor of economics and lead associate dean for administration, graduate studies and research with the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), has been named dean of the Donald L. Harrison College of Business at Southeast Missouri State University and will begin his new role June 1.

Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said Southeast was fortunate to have had an exceptional and diverse group of outstanding candidates who applied during a national search for a new College of Business dean.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and visit with the three finalists identified by the Search Committee during the week of March 19,” Vargas said. “Dr. Dávila’s academic business experience will be a tremendous asset as he takes the leadership reins of the college. We look forward to his arrival.”

Dr. Karl Kunkel, Southeast provost, said Dávila rose to the top of an extremely competitive candidate pool.

“I believe his energy, vision, and breadth of solid and successful experience as a faculty member, department chair and associate dean quickly will become an asset for the Harrison College of Business moving to the next level, serving both our students and needs of the region,” Kunkel said. “I am excited for him to become part of the leadership team at Southeast and look forward to the collective accomplishments of the Harrison College in the coming years under Dr. Dávila’s leadership.”

Dávila said he was attracted to the Harrison College of Business dean position at Southeast because of the University’s strong focus on student success and its close-knit community.

“My top priority will be to recruit and retain — via a high-quality education and overall learning experience — students who will graduate in a timely fashion with the skills to achieve impactful and productive lives.”

Specific priorities, he said, will focus on promoting economic education and financial literacy by establishing strong partnerships with local and regional organizations. Promoting programs that focus on interrelationships between the College of Business and STEM fields also will be a priority, as will continued development of international programs where the University can recruit students and offer Southeast students more international experiences. Researching relevant academic programs to meet labor market demands also will be essential, he said.

“I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Judy Wiles for her thoughtful guidance and leadership as interim dean of the College of Business during the past 12 months,” Vargas said.

Kunkel added, “I also want to thank Dr. Wiles for her service to the Harrison College of Business as Interim Dean over the past academic year. She is a long-time faculty member and leader in the college, and further demonstrated her commitment to its success while advancing various initiatives.  I personally appreciate her important contributions to academic leadership during this interim period.  The Harrison College is in a strong position due to her leadership and service.”

Southeast’s Harrison College of Business is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The college also is one of 11 U.S. institutions accredited by the Network of International Business Schools, which recognizes Southeast for its dedication to the internationalization of its programs.

Dávila’s role as an academic administrator has spanned 20 years. In his current position, he oversees Graduate Studies, Research and Administration, fostering a culture of encouraging research experiences for faculty, doctoral and graduate students. He also has supported experiential learning opportunities for students, including internships with community-based organizations throughout the country and through international student exchange programs in Spain and Germany.

Dávila also has built positive relationships with the business community in the Rio Grande Valley, including, among others, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the Texas Council on Economic Education and the American Society of Hispanic Economists.

Prior to his administrative appointment, he was chair of the Department of Economics and Finance at UTRGV, formerly The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). During that time, he was a key member of the leadership team in the College that navigated the merger of UTPA with UTRGV. He also served as Professor of Economics and V.F. “Doc” and Gertrude M. Neuhaus Chair for Entrepreneurship at UTRGV. At UTPA, he served on and formerly chaired the executive committee of the Council of Chairs as well as chaired the Graduate Council.

He previously was an assistant professor of economics and an associate professor of economics at the University of New Mexico.

Dávila holds a doctoral degree in economics from Iowa State University, and his work has been published in a number of scholarly journals.