Johnson School of Business Dean Fred Nerone retires, assumes CIO

Hodges University’s founding Dean of the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University, has retired. The University named Dr. Nancey Wyant, previously the chair for the Management program, to replace Nerone as Dean. Wyant was selected for the position shortly after Nerone first announced his retirement in September of last year.

“Dean Nerone’s dedication in developing a quality business program at Hodges has resulted in one of the finest Business School’s in the country,” said Dr. Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. "Under his leadership there has been tremendous growth of many of the programs we offer, which has allowed the University to grow to prominence and success under his helm.  As course offerings have expanded under his leadership over the years, Nerone has brought in additional faculty who not only possessed teaching experience, but real world expertise to complement lessons imparted in the classroom. 

“Fred has been an exemplary leader in a school devoted to the understanding and practice of leadership. He has been a tremendous influence on the school’s impressive progress, and a tireless advocate for Hodges University and its students, faculty and staff.  I feel a deep sense of gratitude but also a deep sense of sadness as he steps down.’’

Nerone came to the University in 1992, worked to establish the School of Business at Hodges and became Dean in 1998. Under Nerone’s leadership, the institution added a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program in 1999 and received specialized accreditation for its business programs through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), a leading professional accrediting organization for business programs in student-centered colleges and universities throughout the world. 

Nerone also helped pioneer the first online program in higher education in the Southwestern region of Florida. “I taught the first course back in 1995,” he recalls. “It was still pretty new back then and I argued for it seeing how helpful the technology would be for our adult students. At that time we were the only institution in the area to offer courses online and today Hodges has a wide range of degree programs available totally online.”

Though comprised today by the Johnson School of Business, the Nichols School of Professional Studies, the Fisher School of Technology and a School of Allied Health, Business studies were among the earliest offerings provided by University when it began operation in 1990. In 2006, the School of Business was renamed the Johnson School of Business, thanks to the generosity of the late Kenneth Oscar Johnson. 

“Ken and I became close friends as he got to know our institution,” said Nerone. “We both had an interest in investments and had worked as CEO’s in the world of business and management. We really had lots of common ground. Several years ago we worked on a plan for where the School of Business at Hodges could go. He became very interested in seeing the school gain some regional and national prominence. Unfortunately he passed away in 2008, but to this day we still refer to that same plan and hope to one day fulfill all of his plans for the Johnson School of Business.”

Though retiring as Dean, Nerone will continue his duties as Treasurer of the Hodges University Foundation, a role he has served since 2006.  Also, he will become Chief Investment Officer of the University providing similar investment expertise on the University side, allowing Nerone to work from off-campus and still provide a valuable and needed service to Hodges University.

“I’m glad to have a continuing role with the University,” said Nerone. “I love the place. It’s the longest job I’ve ever had, having been here for almost 20 years.” 

Nerone also had high praise for his successor, Dr. Nancey Wyant. “I couldn’t be more comfortable turning the reins over to anyone else. It’s not only her background, her knowledge and her attitude about holding the bar high; she’s never economized on scholastic achievement with herself, her faculty and her students. We’ve worked together all of these years to get the School to where it’s at, and we share a vision of what the School of Business can be in the future. She was our number one pick and we’re fortunate that she accepted the position.”

To honor him for his many years of service to the institution, Hodges will name Nerone “Professor Emeritus” at a special reception on May 20. This is only the second time the title has been bestowed on a Hodges professor. The title of Professor Emeritus status is bestowed upon an eligible individual of the University who has provided meritorious service to the institution as demonstrated by significant contributions in teaching, administrative leadership, research, and/or community service.

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