By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Randy Gibb learned an important lesson during his 26 years in the Air Force.
“Every two to three years we moved to a different base in a new airplane, a different mission and part of a new team,” he said. “You would learn to assess an organization and create a template to get acclimated and determine how to contribute.”
Now Gibb is embarking on a new mission: He is GCU’s new Provost, replacing Dr. Hank Radda, who will retire in July.
“Dr. Gibb very much fits the mold of Dr. Radda in that he is accomplished academically but also understands the operational part to be able to build on what Hank has done,” said GCU President Brian Mueller. “A big part of that comes from his military background and his ability to lead a team. That is evident in everything he has accomplished as dean of one of the fastest-growing business colleges in the country.”
Just as Radda has overseen GCU’s dramatic rise from less than 1,000 traditional students to more than 23,000, with another 90,000+ studying online, in a little more than a decade, Gibb has been a key component in CCOB’s growth from 1,900 traditional students upon his arrival to more than 6,000 today.
To Gibb, like Radda and other GCU administrators, it’s all about collaboration: “Every college contributing to the bigger mission while still fulfilling their individual industry and accreditation piece. We don’t build in silos.”
That’s just one of the things he learned from Radda.
“I am humbled and honored to follow him, and I want to make sure I take the lessons learned and contribute to this amazing team in Academic Affairs,” Gibb said. “That’s why I so respect what Hank has been able to do. If we had something we needed to improve, it was approached as a system and process perspective to create excellence at scale.”
Gibb also has learned a lot from Arizona business icon Jerry Colangelo, CCOB's namesake:
“I absolutely love my job, love working with our faculty, staff and students in CCOB. Our team is phenomenal, and we are blessed to have Mr. Colangelo so involved. I have learned significantly from him and been inspired by his success, his drive and passion as well as how he lives out his faith.”
Gibb’s management approach comes down to this: He listens to ideas, helps implement them and works to be a servant leader. What has happened in CCOB is a testament to that:
- Instructor Paul Waterman wanted to create project management opportunities and suggested organizing a TEDx event on campus. “And now TEDxGCU has just exploded,” Gibb said.
- Another CCOB instructor, Mark Jacobsen, was excited about giving students direct access to leaders in the financial services industry and wanted to help them prepare for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Now the Charles Schwab Foundation Learning Center has a prime spot on the first floor of the CCOB Building.
- The Canyon Challenge entrepreneurial competition and Canyon Angels investment group have grown dramatically under the leadership of instructor Tim Kelley.
- The 2 1/2-year-old Canyon Ventures Center business incubator overseen by Robert Vera is filled with startups that employ GCU students.
- The new hospitality program has grown has grown exponentially out of the GCU Hotel and Canyon 49 Restaurant.
All that growth reflects exactly what Mueller emphasizes – they’re student-focused and collaborative.
“I’m just encouraging President Mueller’s vision and incorporating the incredible ideas of our faculty,” Gibb said. “All the success is the result of the faculty and staff working together and innovating opportunities for student success. And I have so appreciated Associate Dean Dr. Allison Mason’s leadership and expertise.”
CCOB has become a leader in business education that integrates principles of conscious capitalism by celebrating the free markets and business as ministry. “Students are proud to be in business and they know the positive contribution they are making for communities,” Gibb said. “That is a direct reflection of how President Mueller leads GCU.
“My job is to be a servant leader, support our faculty, get them the resources, be a cheerleader and then just get out of the way so they can do what they are so good at: teach, share their faith and prepare students for an impactful career. That’s what I hope to do for the Academic Affairs team.”
Interestingly, Gibb’s first contact with GCU was when Radda and other University leaders were looking to build an engineering and technology program from scratch. Gibb, whose MSE and Ph.D. are in industrial engineering, interviewed for the engineering position.
Radda wasn’t sure if that was the right fit but liked his entrepreneurial background and Christian worldview. He saw Gibb as someone who “gets who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.” So he told him to keep in touch.
“When you find a person that you think is a win-win with GCU, you like to keep them in conversations,” Radda said.
As Radda was conducting a search for a business dean, he didn’t want a traditional higher education leader and envisioned someone who could provide entrepreneurial innovation and servant leadership while working closely with Colangelo. Gibb was that person.
“Randy came on board, worked really well with President Mueller and Mr. Colangelo, and built a great operation over there,” Radda said. “He really understands how we do things here as a matrixed organization, how to connect President Mueller’s vision to the academic team and how important it is to use data on assessment in learning and outcomes.
“I think his work for those years in the college will help develop the next level of what Academic Affairs at GCU will be.”
GCU will find a new CCOB dean to replace Gibb, who says he is comfortable with his new challenge. Again, it’s his Air Force experience, whether a flying squadron, the Air Force Academy, or as a Senior Military Professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology – all honoring those before you, honoring the legacy of the organization through stewardship.
“We are stewards to something bigger than all of us,” Gibb said. “I can never be Hank. I so respect what he has done, but I also know that Hank expects me to take things to the next level, just as new CCOB leadership will improve on my efforts. I thank President Mueller for this opportunity and I am ready to get to work!”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
GCU Today: Gibb has another new mission: Provost of GCU