Dr. Greg Gelles, chair and professor of economics and finance at the University of Missouri-Rolla, has been named dean of Mazoon College in Muscat, Oman. Gelles will take over for Dr. Juma S. Al Ghailani, the school’s founding dean, for a two-year term.
Established through a partnership agreement with UMR, Mazoon College has seen great success in its first few years. Since its official opening in April 1999, enrollment has jumped from approximately 50 students to more than 900, a large increase for such a short period of time, says Dr. Robert L. Davis, dean emeritus and academic team leader for the UMR/Mazoon project.
Gelles is looking forward to the challenge of heading the international college, as well as serving as an ambassador of sorts for UMR and the United States. "It was not a difficult decision," Gelles says. "Oman is a very friendly and beautiful place. I’ve always felt very comfortable there."
In 1998, officials in Oman recognized a need for higher education in the country, with an emphasis on the female population, so the college is targeted to females. Ninety percent of the college’s students are females who attend classes during the day, but approximately 100 males also attend night courses.
In its first years, Mazoon College, which conducts all course work in English, was only able to offer a two-year associate’s degree program. It has now been approved to offer a third year and school officials expect to be able to offer baccalaureate degrees by 2005. One of Gelles’ goals will be to attract quality faculty and students to help make this happen.
The college offers courses in computer science, economics and finance, English, accounting, and management systems. Faculty and administrators from UMR visit the campus annually to evaluate the programs, making sure they meet UMR’s standards. The process is comparable to what UMR goes through for its North Central Association accreditation, says Dr. Henry Wiebe, vice provost for UMR Global.
"We’re really excited that Dr. Gelles has been selected for the dean’s position at Mazoon College," says Jeanie Hofer Smallwood, director of international affairs at UMR. "This is a continuation of our partnership agreement, and will help build and strengthen our relationship academically. It’s the next step in bringing us closer together."
"This exchange and the work we’re doing in the Middle East is very healthy for worldwide relations," says Davis. "It promotes understanding of each other’s cultures and we are definitely developing a very positive image for UMR in that part of the world."
Davis and Al Ghailani exchanged several visits during the initiation of the program. "Dr. Al Ghailani has been a delight to work with," says Davis. "He has been the driving force in making this new college a success."
Gelles came to UMR in 1989 as an assistant professor of economics and was promoted to associate professor in 1995. In 1998 he was named chair of the department and was promoted to professor of economics in 2001.
During his tenure at UMR, Gelles has received numerous awards including the UMR Faculty Excellence Award, the MSM-UMR Alumni Association Outstanding Advisor Award and a management systems program Outstanding Faculty Member Award. He specializes in the areas of mathematical economics, forensics economics, risk and uncertainty, and has published more than 20 refereed articles in these areas.
The partnership with Mazoon College is the first of its kind at UMR, and university officials hope it will serve as the model for other future international agreements, Smallwood says.