Augusta Chronicle highlights New Dean for AU’s Hull College of Business

Kennesaw State administrator selected to head AU’s college of business

A retired Air Force officer and senior associate dean at Kennesaw State University has been tapped to lead Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business.

The university announced internally this week that Dr. Richard M. Franza of Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business will take the position effective Feb. 1, succeeding Dr. Mark Thompson, who has served as interim dean since the departure of Dr. Marc Miller last year.

Augusta University said the search was national and lasted more than a year.

Franza has been with Kennesaw State since 2002. He earned a doctorate in operations management from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Notre Dame.

While working on his doctorate in the early 1990s, he retired from the Air Force, where he was a research-and-development project manager for the Strategic Defense Initiative, a sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system known during the Reagan administration as the “Star Wars” program.

During a phone interview Wednesday, Franza said he plans to spend the first several weeks taking the pulse of the local business community.

“The customer of a business school is businesses,” he said. “Part of the reason I want to get there as soon as I can is to listen to the business community and see what their needs are. I want to listen to what they need and to see that they get the talent they need to be successful.”

Long term, he said, it makes sense for the Hull College to specialize in the cyber- and health care-related business education given the growing presence of the two industries in Augusta and elsewhere. The university’s cyber program is academically housed in the Hull College, and the health sciences enterprise already is the institution’s premier area of focus .

“Those two things I would put our concentration on to start with, and then see how much bandwidth there is for other things,” he said. “Those are two pretty ambitious areas to start with.”

Dr. Gretchen Caughman, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said in internal communications earlier this week that Franza’s experience with a University System of Georgia institution gives him an understanding of the state’s policies, procedures and protocols.

And Franza’s previous experience working on classified projects gives him a special insight into the the type of work going on in the growing intelligence community at Fort Gordon, which is home to a National Security Agency cryptologic center as well as Army Cyber Command.

“He has a real appreciation for what our military is and does,” Caughman said. “And I think that will be to our advantage as we continue to grow our relationship with Fort Gordon.”

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or