New CCOB dean brings vast experience, versatility

New Dean of the Colangelo College of Business John Kaites, co-founder of Global Security and Innovation Strategies, owns or is part owner of several companies and is an attorney who has represented professional sports teams.

Photos by Ralph Freso

John Kaites graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary, served in the Arizona State Legislature and was counsel for prominent Phoenix law firm Fennemore.

And last summer, he found time to record some ideas, thoughts and strategies that could blend business concepts at a Christian university.

That was shortly before Kaites received a call from Grand Canyon University Provost Dr. Randy Gibb, who asked if he would be interested in becoming dean of the Colangelo College of Business.

“It hit me right away that the Lord was just laying the foundation for this incredible experience and this wonderful opportunity – that the Colangelo College of Business is jet fuel to all of the good things that we're doing at this University, and all of the good things that can be accomplished through Christ and entrepreneurialism,” Kaites said after talking to a class of mesmerized Canyon Angels students at Canyon Ventures.

His selection as CCOB dean is fascinating because of his diverse background, which includes local and national roots in the business sector.

Kaites, who received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Alleghany College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and a law degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, owns or is part owner in real estate, technology and construction companies. He also has represented 14 Major League Baseball teams, two National Basketball Association teams and the National Hockey League.

Global Security and Innovative Strategies (GSIS), a security consulting and business advisory company led by renowned chief executives, former federal government agency directors and politicians, was co-founded by Kaites.

His local business ties have included McRae Gomez Companies, MACO Investments, Christ Foundation and CF Gila Buttes.

Kaites chats with Canyon Angels students.

With Fennemore, Kaites specialized in global security, business and finance, business and government negotiations, litigation and regulatory compliance.

“We are so blessed to have John joining our GCU team and leading our Colangelo College of Business,” Gibb said in a statement. “He brings unique perspectives and insight given his experience as an attorney, entrepreneur and minister – he truly can promote our free market, entrepreneurial mindset as well as business as ministry faith integration.

“John also brings 30-plus years of Phoenix Valley industry relationships to our campus with hiring pathways and partnerships. He has a heart to serve and lives out his faith – a true servant leader.” 

One of Kaites’ most masterful accomplishments as an attorney was getting the Pima County Board of Supervisors to accept a $5 million buyout in December 2008 so that the Chicago White Sox could break the final four years of its spring training lease at Tucson Electric Park and move to a new facility in Glendale the following spring.

“I have known and worked with John for decades, and no one is better at getting things done,” White Sox and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who also serves as a principal with Kaites at GSIS, said in a statement. “His success is built on relationships, in Phoenix, in Arizona and across the country.

“John is the perfect choice to build consensus and lead the Colangelo College of Business into the future.”

Said Kaites: “I prayed for a great mentor in my life. And I asked Jesus for a great mentor in business and politics, and I met Jerry Reinsdorf. Jerry has been that friend of mine that has taught me so much in business. Thirty years of the University of Reinsdorf, the School of Business, and it's just incredible how all that came together.”

With CCOB, however, Kaites’ goals are simple.

“That every student, when they graduate from here, has been introduced to a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that every student that graduates from CCOB can either start their own business the day they graduate, or work anywhere that they want to work,” Kaites said.

Kaites also is a seminary school graduate and said one of his goals is to make sure every student who graduates from CCOB has been introduced to a relationship with Christ.

“And I think we have unbelievable capabilities to do that. It's an incredible platform for growth, evangelism, entrepreneurialism and making a difference in this world. I see that business college is the best vehicle for doing that. And, of course, it's in my wheelhouse because of my background.”

The timing for GCU to reach out was “amazing,” in Kaites’ estimation. In addition to serving on the board of trustees at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, Kaites said he was asked to join the board at Arizona Christian University and another undisclosed university.

“I wanted to be intentional about that next university move to be because the Lord had been putting all of these different concepts in my head to accomplish,” Kaites said. “And, oh my goodness, that in His amazing way, I get the opportunity to do that at this incredible school.”

Kaites is aware of the success of CCOB, which received a top-25 ranking in 2022 for best online entrepreneurship degrees by Online Schools Report and was ranked in the top 25 in best online MBA in project management systems of 2022 by Intelligent.com.

I wanted to be intentional about that next university move to be because the Lord had been putting all of these different concepts in my head to accomplish. And, oh my goodness, that in His amazing way, I get the opportunity to do that at this incredible school.

-- New CCOB Dean John Kaites

Kaites already has visited Canyon Ventures, a warehouse-like facility and home to aspiring businesspersons and young entrepreneurs. It has gained nationwide attention, thanks to the creativity and vision of student-designed products that have attracted the attention of business reality television show "Shark Tank" and several publications.

CCOB’s 150,000-square-foot facility, which includes 81 offices and 61 classrooms, opened in 2019.

“The greatest thing about this opportunity is nothing needs to be fixed,” Kaites said. “This place is running well. This University is amazing as a university, and this college is running smoothly. It's running well. It's producing high-class students that have great experiences. It can go right into the world and perform.

“So I don't see my role as fixing anything. I see my role as adding value, and the first step in adding value is understanding what you have already.”

Since starting his new position Oct. 9, Kaites has embarked on a methodical process of meeting staff members and studying all facets of CCOB.

During his visit with Canyon Angels students, Kaites stressed the importance of being intensional and teachable “in the things you need to do in order to make the product great to get to the result you want to get.”

Kaites recalled how former President John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that he was determined to put a man on the moon and return him safely, only to hear NASA officials believe that mission was about 50 years away despite an increased budget.

Within eight years, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.

“That happens when you’re really intentional about doing it and include God in your process,” Kaites said as he paced the stage. “It is so powerful that you end up in places that you never thought you could be, (and in jobs) that you never thought you’d be good enough to do.”

Another accomplishment of new CCOB Dean John Kaites is that he has served in the Arizona State Legislature.

After completing his examination of CCOB, Kaites will explore opportunities for growth, engagements with the community and “strategic alliances with entrepreneurs, with businesses, with industries here in Arizona that will serve students well.”

He believes CCOB can supplement or enhance student projects in other colleges and turn them into businesses that help students.

Kaites also sampled GCU’s international influence during online graduation ceremonies, greeting and congratulating CCOB students who hailed from places such as Nigeria, Europe and Asia.

“They are ready to take on the world in their own community,” Kaites said. “The reach of this place is just miraculous and wonderful.”

Little did he know how closely his roots were aligned with GCU. He accepted his position in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania (65 miles east of Pittsburgh), where he was preaching.

“I mentioned Grand Canyon University, and I had a number of adults come up to me afterward and say, ‘I'm a student at Grand Canyon,’" Kaites said.

“And they're getting ready to graduate in counseling, theology and all of those disciplines, but it was very cool to see the reach."

GCU News Senior Writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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