RICHMOND -- Can a person continue in one executive position for eight to 10 years and still provide energetic leadership?
Only with great difficulty, said Thomas L. Reuschling, dean of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. After a decade in the same job, Reuschling is convinced that most people need to re-evaluate their talents and consider moving on.
That's one reason he has accepted a new challenge.
In March, Reuschling is to become president of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C. It's a small, private, liberal arts school. "I feel good about my 10 years here. But I think it's a good time for a change in leadership," he said.
On college campuses, as in business, people often go elsewhere to get a promotion. Reuschling announced to his faculty two years ago that he had aspirations of becoming president of a small college. After putting his name out for consideration, he received two offers: one from St. Andrews and another from a small, private college in Pennsylvania whose name he would not disclose.
Reuschling, 45, says the university's school of business is in good shape. That's an opinion shared by business leaders who have worked with him. During his tenure, enrollment has remained stable with about 350 majors, the school received reaccreditation in the spring and several programs have been added.
"Tom is a quiet, low-key person, but very effective. The city of Richmond is going to lose a valuable person and an asset to the community," said Manuel Deese, a senior vice president for the Computer Co.
Deese knows Reuschling from his days as Richmond city manager and as a member of the dean's sounding board, a 40-member advisory council that includes some of the area's most influential business executives. In 1985, Reuschling helped Deese design a 32-week training program for new minority vendors who set up businesses in the Sixth Street Marketplace.
A firm believer in the need for community involvement, Reuschling has been a president of Richmond's Junior Achievement program and a member of the board of directors of the United Way.
"He has been very effective in relating to business leaders," said Walter A. Stosch, a senior partner with Gary, Stosch, Walls & Co. Stosch said he was a guinea pig for one of the programs, the Executive Masters of Business Administration, started during Reuschling's tenure.
This program and several others are the accomplishments of which the dean seems most proud.
The University of Richmond "wasn't a place where you had to come in and rebuild," Reuschling said. "It already had a good program and provided a good base to build things on."