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By Jeff Harrison
University Communications

When Paul Portney steps down as dean of the Eller College in January, the job of running one of the nation’s premier business colleges will fall, temporarily, to the second in command.

Leslie Eldenburg, the vice dean of the college, will begin January 1 as the interim dean at Eller until a permanent replacement for Portney is in place. Three finalists for the deanship have been interviewed. Eldenburg said if these three candidates are satisfactory to the Eller faculty, their names will be forwarded to Provost Meredith Hay, who will make the selection.

The finalists for dean of the Eller College include:

  • Leonard Jessup, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and chair of the entrepreneurship and information systems department at Washington State University
  • Kenneth R. Evans, dean and the Fred E. Brown Chair of Business at the University of Oklahoma
  • Lawrence Feick, professor of business administration and senior director of international programs at the University of Pittsburgh

Eldenburg said her goal as the interim dean is to work on smoothing the transition for the new dean, who could start as early as July 1.

“It’s holding down the fort, but I have a really strong group of department heads,” she said. “We’ve talked about how we’re very siloed, where the departments think and act independently. For the most part it works; but at this point in time, with the budget, we need to act more as a community, and they agree with that.”

Eldenburg also is involved in increasing the variety of learning experiences for students, including online courses, evening programs, and other innovative learning opportunities.

“We have some initiatives we’re working on that I’m really tickled with. We’re looking at the teaching mission and how to broaden that into distance learning. We’re getting a new technology classroom and want to figure out how to use it best. We’re planning to deliver some content for UA South’s commerce program, and will be working with several tribal nations so that their students could participate in our courses at their respective institutions. We’re also exploring other options to increase our revenue streams through the use of this classroom and other distance learning initiatives.”

“The Eller College could not be in better hands as we await the selection and arrival of the new dean,” Portney said. “Leslie Eldenburg knows the College very well and has the respect of its faculty and staff. She’ll see to it that we don’t miss a beat as we work to execute against our strategic plan. I appointed her as vice dean more than two years ago and she’s been spectacular.”

Eldenburg has been on the Eller faculty since 1993 and is a McClelland Professor of Accounting, one of six endowed professorships in the College sponsored by longtime UA philanthropist Norman McClelland. Eldenburg also teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in cost and managerial accounting. She passed the certified public accountant exam in 1985 and earned a doctorate from the University of Washington in 1991. Her research interests center on health care and hospital accounting issues and she currently is investigating how hospital ownership affects management behavior.

Eldenburg’s work has been published in The Accounting Review, the Journal of Accounting and Economics, and other publications, and she is a member of the American Accounting Association, the Institute of Management Accountants, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.