Meet President Rodney Rogers

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“It’s an absolute privilege to have the opportunity to lead my alma mater.”

Some say university presidents are expected to walk on water. A more realistic goal is for that person to have many talents or areas of knowledge. Dr. Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D. ’81, Bowling Green State University’s newest president, is a versatile, well-rounded person, and fits that description to a T.

With a foundation in music and a professional background that spans higher education and the business sector, both domestically and globally, Rogers is excited to continue BGSU’s momentum in expanding the University’s academic offerings, updating facilities and completing its comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“It’s an absolute privilege to have the opportunity to lead my alma mater,” said Rogers, who was named BGSU’s 12th president in February. “I look forward to working with our faculty, staff and alumni to continue to strengthen our University, provide an outstanding education for our students and prepare them for life after BGSU.”

A panel at the 2017 American Council on Education’s annual meeting agreed that it takes an ever-widening skill set to serve as a university president, given the speed at which higher education is evolving and the broad range of constituencies with which the presidents work. Rogers has a long history with the University, having served most recently as provost and senior vice president since 2012, and as dean of the BGSU College of Business for the prior six years. But it wasn’t just his most recent positions that made him an ideal candidate.

“Rodney Rogers brings a wide range of talents and accomplishments to the position,” said Megan Newlove, chair of the BGSU Board of Trustees. “Under his leadership of academic affairs, enrollment has increased and new academic programs have been introduced. The students we recruit are the most academically prepared in our history. Student retention has improved, and graduation rates are up.

“He has also been an effective fundraiser for the University and has played an integral role in the planning and development of our new and renovated facilities.”

A native Ohioan, raised in Kenton, Rogers has an MBA from BGSU, a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Arts in music from Ohio Northern University. Before completing his doctorate at Case, he practiced as a certified public accountant for 10 years.

Given his background in business, people are sometimes surprised to learn he has a bachelor’s degree in music.

“I don’t think you’ll find many CPAs or MBAs who majored in vocal performance in college,” Newlove said. “That grounding in music and his passion for the arts were important to the board and helped demonstrate a broad understanding of the entire University.”

Faculty, students and alumni from BGSU’s aviation program may appreciate that he also has a private pilot’s license.

Before joining BGSU, Rogers served as associate dean and director of academic programs within the School of Business at Portland State University in Oregon. He has taught financial reporting at various universities, including Portland State, Case Western Reserve, Thunderbird: The American Graduate School of Management, and the École de Management at EuroMed-Marseille in France. As a faculty member, his research focused on the ways in which financial analysts use information, strategies firms employ to disclose information to the marketplace and the institutional role of the accounting profession within capital markets. He was also a visiting research fellow at the Cranfield School of Management in England.

In addition to his academic work, Rogers consulted with a variety of businesses and organizations, including Nike Inc., Wendy’s International, Starwood Resorts, The Standard, Vestas-America and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. This included the design and delivery of executive education programs integrating the development of financial acumen with leadership competencies, which have been delivered in the United States, The Netherlands, China, Thailand and Canada.

“There is value to having served as a director, a dean and a provost,” he said. “Each leadership position is a little different and allowed me to learn different parts of the institution. My business experience allowed me to learn what companies are looking for in college graduates. And through my international work, I was able to interact with people from all over the world.”

His career progression mirrors advice he has for students: “Life is about seizing opportunities, doing the best you can and seeing what happens. There was a risk in every move I made, but we need
to prepare our students to live in a time of flux, to take those calculated risks.”

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Rodney Rogers with sons Spencer, left, and Isaac and wife Sandra Earle at the news conference announcing his presidency.

Only a few months into his role as president, Rogers said listening, collaborating and encouraging action are keys to success. This spring he is working with faculty and staff on updating the University’s strategic plan.

“I want to empower people to make a difference,” he said. “People who only spend time in higher education sometimes forget what an awesome job this is. Because in the end, higher education is responsible for the development of the future leadership of our state, country and world. What a privilege it is to serve students and give them a runway to accomplish their goals. With this comes
tremendous responsibility.”

Rogers is confident in the future of BGSU and he credits President Emeritus Mary Ellen Mazey with positioning the University for continued success.

“Each of us who have had the honor to serve in this role has learned from and built upon the work of their predecessors,” he said. “Mary Ellen has been a tremendous mentor, role model and friend.

“When you put people together around a common goal, amazing things happen. It’s exciting to hear what our students’ plans are. At the end of the day, helping our students accomplish their goals is why we’re here.

“We want to help them live a life of unscripted opportunity where they can adapt to and embrace the world they’re going to be in.”

BGSU helps students do this through resources such as the Falcon Internship Guarantee, which guarantees students the opportunity to participate in an internship or other experiential learning activity during their undergraduate career. The Career Center provides career development, planning and preparation, experiential learning and job attainment services.

Beginning in January 2019, students will also have the opportunity to participate in Winter Session, which will provide additional and flexible academic opportunities, like study abroad.

“We want to give our students opportunities to engage internationally and through Winter Session, study abroad is even more accessible,” Rogers said. “The world is just so interconnected, being a global citizen is more important than ever.”

Preparing students for life after graduation, here or abroad, is important to Rogers.

“The role of a public university is to provide a high-quality, affordable education, but also to graduate individuals who become good citizens,” he said. “There is a question out there about the purpose of higher education. We assume people value higher education, but we have to demonstrate how we are preparing the citizens of tomorrow. It’s not just about earnings, it’s also about health and happiness.

“We want our students to go on to live a committed and fulfilled life. A career is certainly part of that, but we’re not serving their needs if we’re not thinking beyond their first job after graduation and about all of the opportunities they’ll have to become knowledgeable, educated citizens. In short, we want to empower them by providing them with social mobility.”

How BGSU delivers education in a changing world will have an impact on this, Rogers said.

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Rodney Rogers talks with alumni during Homecoming 2017 festivities.

“The impact of technology to further enhance the educational experience and deliver materials will result in a deeper understanding by our students,” he said. “We serve full-time resident students well, but through technology there is an opportunity to better serve the needs of nontraditional students.

“The lifelong learners. Those people who are interested in things, in enhancing their career, in changing their career. How do we help serve that group of students, students who are possibly balancing family and a job?”

eCampus serves those students well, but Rogers sees opportunity for more hybrid-based delivery models, enhancements to online options and certificate programs.

“We have to be organized in a way that allows us to serve their needs,” he said. “It includes combining the right academic portfolio, via the right delivery systems, with the right support. We want to demonstrate that we are an educational organization that serves a lot of different populations.”

By listening to new ideas, encouraging collaborations across the University and in the community, and supporting action, Rogers said BGSU will be the best university it can be.

Rogers served on the board of the Wood County Hospital, is a current member of the board of directors of the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. He is also on the executive committee of the Regional Growth Partnership and on the board of trustees for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

He and his wife, Dr. Sandra Earle, a faculty member of the University of Findlay, have two sons, Isaac and Spencer. Isaac is a sophomore at BGSU. Spencer is a sophomore at the University of Rochester.

"I look forward to working with our faculty, staff and alumni to continue to strengthen our University, provide an outstanding education for our students and prepare them for life after BGSU.”

“I grew up in Bowling Green, so I was a townie and a student of the University,” Hoskins said. “Our family moved here because my dad took a job at BGSU. He was on the faculty here and he was invited to come here by the president at the time, William Jerome, and Bill Schmeltz, the dean of the College of Business, to create one of the first dedicated international business programs in the United States.”

Dr. William R. Hoskins, professor emeritus of marketing, taught at BGSU from 1965 to 1984.

“My dad was one of the four founders of the Academy of International Business, the biggest faculty organization in the world for academics who are interested in international business. This was the early ’60s, and the U.S. was not at all geared up for globalization.”

The younger Hoskins developed some of his viewpoints from growing up in an international household.

“My father built the international business programs, my mother’s German,” he said. “The international students were at our house all the time.”

He then traveled overseas and lived outside of the United States for 15 years before settling in Austin, Texas.

“I ended up in computers,” Hoskins said. “I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my first software company at age 27 in the Middle East and then grew and sold a succession of software companies, the last couple in Austin. I caught that whole software boom in the software industry, and it’s been a really good career for me.”

Hoskins, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance from BGSU, is the chief technology officer of Actian Analytics Platform, a subsidiary of the Actian Corp. Previously, he was chief technology officer and general manager of Pervasive Software’s Integration Products.

For Hoskins, all roads eventually led back to Bowling Green.

“It happens in life, you drift away from what you did before,” he said. “I came back to Bowling Green for the first time in the mid ’90s for my high school reunion and reconnected with some friends and started coming back for the reunions more regularly. At one of the reunions, I was talking to one of my classmates from high school, Mike Marsh, and he was on the Board of Trustees at BGSU at the time. He’s now still heavily involved at the University. He had been a good friend of mine in high school and actually lived across the street from me growing up.”

Hoskins talked with Marsh about getting involved with BGSU, which led to a meeting with the then-new dean of the business college, Dr. Rodney Rogers.

“I met the dean for a coffee at the Starbucks on Wooster Street, and we ended up having this fascinating back-and-forth conversation for two hours,” he said. “He really reignited my interest in what was going on at BGSU. By that point in time, I had sold a couple of businesses and was in a position to help a little bit.”

That conversation inspired Hoskins to make some gifts to the College of Business for an education-abroad program.

“My dad had built up the international business programs in the College of Business, and they had atrophied somewhat with his departure,” Hoskins said. “I thought we could reenergize the programs, so I gave some money to study-abroad scholarships in the college, and it started running again with the help of the faculty members. The study-abroad program is back running at full speed now, and the students are heading off in every direction.”

In addition to the Hoskins Global Scholars Fund, his long history of generous support to the University includes establishing the Hoskins Faculty Leadership and Innovation Award, the Hoskins Study Abroad Student Award and the Hoskins Study Abroad Faculty Award.

Since his reconnection with the University, Hoskins has collaborated with BGSU entrepreneurship programs, and was inducted into BGSU’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame in 2009. He was selected as one of BGSU’s 100 Most Prominent Alumni as part of the University’s Centennial celebration and received the Alumni Association Accomplished Graduate Award from the College of Business. His support has earned him membership in The Presidents Club.

Around the time Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey was named president and Rogers was named provost at BGSU, in 2011, Hoskins started thinking about larger contributions, including support for the renovation
of University Hall, where International Programs and Partnerships is located.

“Rodney and I had grown pretty close by this time, and President Mazey was really a ball of energy,” he said. “We talked about a larger series of gifts, and I got involved with the Foundation and started making larger annual gifts for a program that was kind of the early version of what we are endowing now.

“You do a study abroad, and it ends up being life changing for a lot of people. The Hoskins Global Scholars idea was, ‘Why don’t we try to identify here at Bowling Green some of the key players, both students and faculty, and see if we can fund a little international spark and passion in our lives?’ This has been an evolution from helping study abroad programs for the first five or six years to building a University-wide Hoskins Global Scholarship program.

“The Hoskins Global Scholar Fund was done on an annual basis, but there wasn’t a committed giving plan. I was impressed with Bowling Green, Mary Ellen’s energy and Rodney’s dedication to the University, and I thought this would be a nice thing to endow permanently at BGSU.”