New business dean sold on Wichita State’s mission

Larisa Genin


Larisa Genin

For 30 years, Larisa Genin called San Francisco home. This June, she bid the Bay Area adieu and boarded a plane to a new life as dean of Wichita State’s W. Frank Barton School of Business.

Genin was joined by her husband, her 14-year-old son, and her pets — a dog and a bird. Sammy, a cockatiel, sang his way through the flight.

“He was singing, and at first, people couldn’t tell if it was a mechanical issue on the plane, but then they realized it was a bird,” Genin said.

“We were the talk of the day in all the airports.”

Genin left her position as associate dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s College of California to come to Wichita. She said that when the opportunity came along, she decided to uproot because WSU’s mission resonated deeply with her.

“I’m just inspired by Wichita State University’s key strategic priorities and the Innovation Campus with a focus on applied learning and research,” Genin said.

She said Wichita was an “instant fit” for her and her family.

“It felt like home,” Genin said.

“I’ve kind of hit the ground running.”

Since she took over for outgoing Dean Anand Desai on June 17, Genin said she’s been meeting with business faculty and staff for about an hour each to get to know them.

She said her leadership style is not to operate solo.

“I am very collaborative, very transparent, visionary, entrepreneurial, innovative and love to work with people,” Genin said.

She said some of her goals as dean include building relationships between the business community and the Barton School and enhancing the student experience through a focus on experiential and co-curricular learning.

In recent years, WSU has prioritized industry partnership in an effort to become the economic driver of south central Kansas. Genin said she looks forward to collaborating with the business community.

“I think there’s opportunities for strategic partnerships and engagement with the business community as we develop innovative academic programs, as we develop internship opportunities and job opportunities — maybe even company visits or opportunities for our students to shadow executives and see if this is something they want to pursue,” Genin said.

“I truly believe that the curricular programs that we have is great, but they need to be powered by co-curricular and extracurricular activities to make it a totally transformative and profound experience.”

In April, after a student fee referendum failed, WSU announced that university funds would be cut and reallocated to pay for the additional $20 million needed to build a new business building on Innovation Campus.

WSU plans to break ground on $50 million Woolsey Hall in 2019. Genin said the new building is an exciting prospect.

“I do hope it would become one of the distinct architectural masterpieces on campus that would attract students, staff, faculty and even engage other schools on campus in more collaborative interdisciplinary initiatives,” Genin said.

“In a way, it will help us to make our brand more tangible. I think it’s going to allow us to tell a story in a more visually appealing way.”