Two years after being hired to launch the University of Maine’s graduate business program, J. Michael Weber is moving to Lakeland to become dean of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College.

Weber, 53, (LinkedIn|CV) starts his new position July 6, FSC announced today in a news release that quoted him saying he’s planning to establish ties with the local business community:

“We’ll work with local businesses, chambers, and the startup community to provide our students with experiential learning opportunities that will also benefit Lakeland and Polk County,” he said.

He replaces James Fenton, who was hired in 2017.

The new position marks a return to Florida for Weber, a Gainesville native who was educated at the University of Florida (B.S. in recreation and hospitality), University of West Florida (MBA, marketing) and Louisiana State University (Ph.D, marketing).

Prior to the University of Maine, Weber was at Mercer University in Atlanta from 2006 to 2018, where he rose to the position of associate dean.

Previous postings include University of West Florida, University of Miami, Barry University and Eastern New Mexico University.

Here is the text of FSC’s news release:

LAKELAND (April 10, 2020) — A well-respected leader in higher education, Dr. J. Michael Weber, will join Florida Southern College as the next dean of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise. Dr. Weber will begin his new duties July 6.

“After a rigorous national search, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Weber to Florida Southern,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad E. Hollingshead. “Dr. Weber has numerous accomplishments during his 25-year career as a teacher, scholar, and administrator that have prepared him well for this position. He is innovative, entrepreneurial, and student-centered.

“He has an outstanding grasp of the current landscape of higher education and the place of business programs in that landscape. I’m confident that our School of Business will continue to thrive under his leadership, and that Florida Southern is a place where Dr. Weber will continue to grow and thrive as well.”

Dr. Weber comes to FSC from the University of Maine, where he is the founding dean of the Graduate School of Business and a professor of marketing. He was responsible for redesigning and relaunching the university’s MaineMBA program — the only MBA program in the state system — in evening and online formats, with concentrations in accounting, analytics, finance, and sustainability.

He also established a significant presence in Portland, the state’s largest city. These and other improvements increased the program’s student enrollment by more than 120 percent in less than two years, also boosting its online MBA ranking to No. 47 in U.S. News and World Report and No. 28 in CEO Magazine.

“We’ll be further enhancing the outstanding undergraduate and graduate business programs at Florida Southern, developing new market-relevant programs, and continuing to engage with the business community through the CEO100 program and other existing and new outreach efforts,” Dr. Weber said.

Dr. Weber received his B.S. from the University of Florida, his MBA from the University of West Florida, and his Ph.D. in Business from Louisiana State University. Throughout his career in academia, he has been actively engaged as a business and marketing consultant to a wide variety of firms, organizations, and government institutions, ranging from startups and scaleups to Fortune 500 companies. He has also started several of his own entrepreneurial ventures.

Prior to joining the University of Maine, Dr. Weber served as senior associate dean in the Stetson School of Business and Economics at Mercer University in Atlanta, as well as the founding director of the school’s Center for Executive Education.

“We’ll work with local businesses, chambers, and the startup community to provide our students with experiential learning opportunities that will also benefit Lakeland and Polk County,” he said. “We’ll steadily build the Barnett School’s reputation and rankings in Florida and around the country.”

Born in Gainesville, Fla., Dr. Weber enjoys boating, camping, and canoeing. He and his wife, Sherrie, a retired special education teacher, have two adult children.


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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