News & Press: InSider

10 Questions with Len Jessup

Tuesday, February 17, 2015  

We are very pleased to present the first of the two part series, 10 Questions with Len Jessup. Len, who was asked to participate in this series by Joe Valacich, is currently the president of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. You can find more about Len here: 


Question from Joe Valacich: Given that you have been a professor, department chair, dean, foundation president, and now university president, what are the greatest challenges facing higher education over the next decade?

A: Clearly the business model underlying American public higher education has changed dramatically, and it isn't likely to go back to the way it was. There are systemic economic factors at both the state and federal levels that won't allow higher education funding to go back to the way it once was. The challenge in that is not about finding a new model. Indeed, many state universities have already become entrepreneurial, self-sustaining entities. Instead, the challenge inherent in this shift is that it fundamentally alters (or at least puts great pressure on) some of the basic tenets of the public such as access, affordability, how (and how much) faculty members are paid, and the value in the pursuit of basic research, and that is proving to be a difficult, cultural shift.

Q: What is your most rewarding service activity? And why?

A: I've been working in administrative roles for quite some time, so most of what I do now is "service", I suppose. In any event, while dean, the service activity I enjoyed most was being active in the AACSB, working with other deans to help business schools to make the shift to the new, entrepreneurial business model. When I was a faculty member and department chair, the service activities I enjoyed most were those that took me out into the community with students working on projects.

Q: Currently, what is your favorite class to teach? And why?

A: While dean at Arizona, I co-taught a class with Bob Lusch on entrepreneurial leadership and loved it, mostly because I really liked working with Bob, but also because we got to work with top-notch Eller students and brought in very successful Eller alum to work with the students. That is the most current class I've taught and really liked, but my all-time favorite was co-teaching experience was with Joe Valacich in the MBA core at the Kelley School at Indiana. That was not only the most fun I've had in the classroom, but I really felt that the great camaraderie that Joe and I have came through in the classroom and made it a great experience for the students. I then co-taught that class with Brad Wheeler, and that was a lot of fun as well. Brad and I are also really good friends, but Brad was clearly the better teacher--a "rock star" in the classroom (and I think that Joe would agree)--and I worked really hard just to simply keep up with Brad.

Q: What is your favorite saying or quote?

A: Too many to choose from, and in fact, I have several tattered notebooks with little sayings and quotes that are meaningful to me.  But one that I reflect on frequently was the reported quote by Neil Armstrong where he is believed to have said, "I believe we are on this earth with a finite number of heartbeats and I'm damned if I'm going to waste any of mine."

Q: What's one trend that you are excited about?

A: I just attended the Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas and saw too many cool trends in action to report on. However, I think my favorite was the Sony exhibit of stunning flat screen TVs; they keep getting larger, clearer, lighter, and thinner. It's not clear when (or if) that will ever end and it is simply amazing to me.

The rest of the interview will be in the next edition of the AIS InSider.

Prepared by the AIS Membership Subcommittee on Doctoral Studies

Ryan Wright, University of Massachusetts
Geoffrey Dick, Georgia Southern University
Arturo Castellanos, Florida International University

For questions about this series or suggestions of who you would like to see interviewed, please contact Ryan Wright (

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