New business dean embraces active learning


businesss students

Aug. 27, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Lawrence Shao, new dean of Slippery Rock University's College of Business, references the ancient Greeks when talking about his belief that learning doesn't happen by chance. It must be continuously sought after.

"Aristotle said it best, 'For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them," Shao said. "You have to have that real-world experience. Students obtain knowledge by listening but the most effective approach to learning is by experience or doing." 

Shao, who joined SRU Aug. 3, said the value of a Slippery Rock University education increasingly comes from experiential learning that is embedded in study abroad, internships, research projects and volunteer opportunities.

The new dean, formerly a tenured professor of finance at Marshall University, cited technology, blended curriculum and foreign language skills as employment pluses.

"Student success is very important; that's ultimately what we are here for, to help students grow both professionally and personally," Shao said. "We have the obligation of providing our students with the best possible educational experiences they can achieve while here on campus. We want our students to develop the skills they need to enter the workforce and be successful." 

Shao cited strong oral communication, problem solving, critical thinking and leadership skills as important. He said College of Business students should minor in technology, pursue internationalism and do an internship. Core disciplines such as finance, management, accounting, marketing and computer science become more marketable with technology and international experience.



"Technology is changing in almost every area," he said. "A generation now is a couple years, so we've got to stay up with technology as much as possible."

"If you can speak a foreign language, that's definitely is a plus on your resume," he said, adding the future will bring more information systems employment opportunities in the Middle East, South America and Asia, particularly China.

SRU's College of Business offers undergraduate programs in all areas of business as well as communication, hospitality, event management and tourism, safety management and military science. SRU offers a blended master of business administration program.

Shao, who created an international business major at Marshall, said SRU is developing a strong focus on internationalism. "We are really pushing the international aspect of education, and I have always been a big supporter of globalization. The world is increasingly flat as world regions become more integrated."

During his time at Marshall, Shao helped develop a new business major and several new programs and increased his division's enrollment by more than 50 percent. He also worked on various fundraising projects. Shao taught financial management courses in the undergraduate program, master of business administration, international masters of business administration and in the doctorate of management practice in nurse anesthesia programs.

Prior to joining the Marshall faculty, Shao taught at the University of Tennessee, Fordham University, Fitchburg State and the University of Tampa. He has been the recipient of numerous teaching and research awards during his academic career in higher education.

He has written three finance and management textbooks, published more than 45 refereed journal articles and made more than 80 presentations both domestically and abroad.

Shao earned his doctorate in finance from the University of Tennessee and his master's in business administration and his bachelor's degree in business administration at Old Dominion University.

Shao said he, his wife and two sons have moved into the area and that he looks forward to working with faculty and staff on projects that help our students grow professionally and become better global citizens. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |