Darrell Franklin Parker, dean and professor of economics in the Johnson College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., is the next dean of the College of Business at Western Carolina University.
Parker is filling a vacancy created by the departure of Ronald A. Johnson, who stepped down from the position in 2010. The appointment is effective July 1.
A native of Buncombe County, Parker is no stranger to Western North Carolina. He grew up in Weaverville and graduated from North Buncombe High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville before going on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Purdue University.
He also is no stranger to WCU’s increasing emphasis on community engagement and partnership, said Beth Tyson Lofquist, interim provost, in announcing the appointment Monday, May 14.
“Among Darrell Parker’s strengths are his understanding of the importance of connections with the external community and his ability to make and solidify those connections,” Lofquist said. “He also has a proven track record of excellence in teaching as well as outstanding internal communication skills and leadership, both within the college that he leads and across the entire campus.”
Parker said he is looking forward to returning to WNC and taking a leadership role in a university he has watched from afar.
“I have had a natural interest in Western Carolina and have known about its commitment to community engagement throughout the region for years,” he said. “The entrepreneurship programs that WCU offers online at the bachelor’s and master’s levels are great examples of a continuing commitment by the College of Business to regional economic development. These high-quality programs can help adults who are working in or starting a small business finish their degrees or start the next one.”
Another example of that commitment is WCU’s master’s degree program in project management, which is top-ranked among accredited online business programs, he said.
“I have had a great season as dean in the Upstate of South Carolina,” Parker said. “The opportunities at WCU give me a chance to continue to serve the region and expand to the next level.”
Prior to becoming dean at USC Upstate in 2006, Parker held the William Freeman Distinguished Chair of Free Enterprise and served as director of the School of Economic Development at Georgia Southern University.
He previously was a professor of economics at Winthrop University, where he was named Winthrop University Distinguished Professor in 1999; awarded the First Union Excellence in Teaching prize in 1991; and received the 1988-89 Phi Kappa Phi award for Excellence in Teaching.
From 1990 until 2001, he served as director of the Winthrop Economic Development Center, which he founded. His areas of specialization include general economics and business, regulatory economics, labor economics, public economics and international business.
The College of Business at WCU, which is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, has more than 50 full-time faculty members and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The college consists of programs in accounting, finance, information systems, economics, business administration and law, sport management, global management and strategy, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, and hospitality and tourism.
The college also houses the Center for Professional Selling and Marketing and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and is home to one of the 17 regional offices of the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center.
Louis Buck Jr., who holds the Wesley Elingburg Distinguished Professorship of Business Innovation at WCU, has been serving as interim dean since 2010. Formerly chief financial officer for the competitive businesses of Consolidated Edison in New York, Buck is retiring this summer.
For more information about WCU’s College of Business, visit the website business.wcu.edu.