October 19, 2023

Intentionality, strategy drive Purdue Global business dean for student growth

Business/IT dean Jeff Buck uses logistics background to grow faculty, prepare students’ next career steps

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jeff Buck knows a thing or two about comebacks, strategies and logistics.

With his love for baseball and strategy, Buck — a former high school and collegiate pitcher known for his curveballs, knuckleballs and change-ups — compares life decisions to a pitcher’s choice on what to throw in a given situation, knowing that short-term decisions impact long-term results. And he encourages people — especially his business and IT faculty teammates — to think and behave with an intentional, forward-looking mindset.

Additional Information

Buck, who serves as the dean of Purdue Global’s School of Business and Information Technology, is an Indiana native who currently lives near Indianapolis.

In addition to being a baseball fanatic, Buck is a military veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, where he specialized in logistics. During his military service, he developed a passionate interest in supply chain management and physical distribution.

When asked why he wanted to lead Purdue Global’s School of Business and Information Technology, his response was quick.

“My academic background has always focused on adult students and education and the online space. Purdue Global would have been the one institution to jump to. It was the brand and prestige of Purdue and the opportunity to serve an Indiana institution,” Buck says. “It was, for me, the opportunity of a lifetime.” 

Online education: Opening doors for working adult learners

As dean of Purdue Global’s largest school, Buck and his leadership team are constantly looking for ways to reach more working adult learners and help them meet their career goals.

“I always felt the future included space for online education,” he says. “I feel the pandemic moved that forward by almost a decade faster than it would have been otherwise.”

Flexibility has been a hallmark at Purdue Global — especially for students. But it also applies to the classroom and course planning.

Buck says his school is looking at educational pathways in artificial intelligence and machine learning, with new courses coming soon. Following Purdue University’s leadership in the semiconductor realm, Purdue Global will be expanding degrees in advanced manufacturing and manufacturing management programs, providing additional educational opportunities to those who work in semiconductor plants being developed across Indiana and the U.S.

Another factor assisting in online education’s expansion is access to broadband. The convenience of taking classes at home and not having to commute to a campus will only climb, Buck says.

“The advances in technology and AI are going to drive us at a rapid pace into new directions. We don’t know what those directions are right now,” he says. “AI and other tools will have an impact on what we do with online education, especially as the platform evolves and expands.”

The value of an online MBA and the school’s future goals

buck-pitcher Buck throwing an opening pitch during a Purdue baseball game. (Purdue Athletics photo) Download image

Purdue Global offers a Master of Business Administration and an ExcelTrack Master of Business Administration, which allows MBA students to move faster through the program.

“The MBA in general has value to those individuals who want to manage or lead any type of organization. The MBA is applicable to every industry and segment of workforce,” Buck says. “Purdue Global’s online MBA program design provides us the capacity to be flexible, relevant and deliver a practitioner focus.”

Another advantage of the Purdue Global MBA is the immediate impact of applying what one is learning to one’s workplace.

“The ability for students engaged in the workforce to take their education and apply it immediately in their career is a key differentiator of our program at Purdue Global,” he says. 

The MBA, business and IT programs are built around skills needed for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, with input from business partners and companies. The programs’ success is reflected in the outcome data.

Purdue Global’s National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) First Destination Data 2021 report shows there are several high-performing programs such as the Bachelor of Science in business administration, Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity, Master of Science in cybersecurity, and Master of Science in finance. The data shows higher knowledge, career outcomes and mean salary rates for Purdue Global than NACE’s rates for those degree programs at other schools. Purdue Global’s knowledge and career outcome rates for MBA graduates are also higher than NACE’s rates.

“Our business partners engage with faculty and share with us where their needs are and where their industries are moving,” Buck says. “We go through a very thorough process of looking at information on the labor market, trends and projections to update the curriculum. There is a lot of faculty awareness and insights into the trends in various fields.”

According to Buck, future initiatives include increasing education abroad opportunities and cultural awareness, service and experiential learning, and community engagement, and increasing the number of military-related students in the program.

Collaboration is a key ingredient in the School of Business and Information Technology’s success, as Buck highlights Purdue Global’s numerous cross-school and -department collaborations, including management programs in nursing and aviation.

 “The programs and institutions that try to do it all by themselves with no collaborations will be the ones that struggle,” he says.

buck-military Buck during his time in the military. (Photo provided/Jeff Buck) Download image

From one first-gen to another

Buck grew up in a family with ties to General Motors’ factories in Anderson, Indiana, and he is a first-generation college graduate. Buck earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA at Ball State University, with a stint of active service in the U.S. Army sandwiched in the middle of those educational endeavors.

As Buck prepared for a career in higher education, he moved his family to Oxford, Mississippi, to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi. He earned his doctorate in higher education leadership and business administration, focusing on organizational commitment, change leadership and market research.

He successfully served on the staff and as a faculty member at Ole Miss, but he was always looking for ways to be back home again in central Indiana.

In addition to working with first-generation students, many of the faculty at Purdue Global, like Buck, are first-generation students themselves. Currently 50% of Purdue Global’s students are first-generation students.

“Our faculty have a profile that mirrors the students they teach. They understand what it’s like to be a first-generation college student, balancing multiple responsibilities and obligations while going to school. The faculty also have a large amount of empathy,” he says.

In addition to having advanced degrees, many Purdue Global faculty members work in their respective fields and are able to share and demonstrate concepts and theories in real-world situations.

Following time in leadership and serving as the MBA director at Anderson University, Buck heard of an opening at Purdue Global, which he views to this day as “an opportunity of a lifetime.”

This opportunity has allowed him to witness and celebrate the lives being changed as students complete their degrees.

“Seeing the number of individuals with their personal comeback stories and how they have completed this part of their journey is very rewarding,” Buck says.

Writer/Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-496-6160, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Source: Jeff Buck

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