Till brings industry, academic expertise to MU business school

Marquette University president Michael Lovell, Ph.D., has a new running buddy on campus as Brian Till, Ph.D., settles into his post at the head of the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management.

Till, also a regular runner, joined the college in mid-July as the new James H. Keyes Dean, after serving as dean of the Williams College of Business at Xavier University in Cincinnati since 2012.

Till’s interest in migrating to Marquette stemmed from his desire to stay in the Midwest – he identifies himself as a “Midwest guy” – as well as his respect for the university’s reputation, he said.

“Marquette has an excellent reputation nationally, and they have an excellent reputation within the Jesuit university system,” Till said.

He has always considered Marquette to be a school with a “solid brand image.”

Branding tops Till’s specialties, as he has centered much of his corporate and academic career on marketing.

Till originally sought to launch his career at an advertising agency after completing a bachelor’s degree in advertising at the University of Texas at Austin. Facing a struggling economy upon graduation, he instead pursued a master of business administration degree from UT-Austin and shifted his focus to the broader discipline of brand management.

It was during his graduate program that he developed a passion for teaching, as he took the reins of classes through a graduate assistantship.

“I discovered that I had a strong passion for teaching and was effective at it,” Till said.

That love of teaching never faded, even as he entered industry after graduate school, first working in brand management for Purina.

After completing a doctorate in marketing at the University of South Carolina, Till rooted his career in academia, joining the faculty of Drexel University, followed by Saint Louis University in his home city. After a 17-year stretch in St. Louis that included seven years as chair of the marketing department at SLU, he ascended to the role of dean at Xavier University ready for “a new challenge” and an opportunity to make a bigger impact.

“I really enjoy facilitating other people being successful at what they do,” Till said of his career in academic leadership. “That’s a big part of the role of being dean.”

As Till now gears up for his first academic year in Milwaukee, he said he is tackling three priorities, among them the need to build his network across both the Marquette community and the city’s business community.

“There is tremendous affection in the business community for Marquette,” largely driven by area alumni, Till said.

Still, there are opportunities for more engagement and other ways to elevate the business school in the community, he said.

Till is also wrapping up the business school’s strategic plan – which is about 75 percent complete – and working with university advancement to figure out a new home for the college.

The school’s building, a five-story structure near the center of campus, dates back to 1950. It was expanded in 1984 and named David A. Straz, Jr. Hall.

Till is currently catching up with the progress Marquette has already made in determining new infrastructure for the business school.

As for Mark Eppli, Ph.D., who served as interim dean of the business school for close to three years, he will refocus on his roles as the Robert B. Bell, Sr. Chair in Real Estate and a professor of finance.

“I miss the juice and the joy that I get from being in the classroom,” said Eppli, who did not apply for the permanent dean position.

Eppli is bullish on Marquette’s new direction.

“I think we’re really well positioned as a college and as an institution for the future – for the future of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education,” Eppli said.

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