Dr. Best joined UCM in August 1995 as an assistant professor of finance and became a professor in 2005. He was named chair of the Department of Economics and Finance in 2003, associate dean of the Harmon College of Business Administration in 2008 and dean of the college in 2010. Following an extensive restructuring of academic programs, Dr. Best began service as dean of the newly formed Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies in 2011. His strong business acumen contributed to Dr. Best becoming interim senior vice president for Finance and Administration in August 2017, and concurrent with a university administrative reorganization, he was appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer in January 2018. In this capacity, he was responsible for implementing a three-year budget planning cycle for the university, revising university fiscal policies and leading efforts to provide more robust reporting for budget managers. With board oversight, he also helped formalize the university’s contingency reserves guidelines.
Early in his tenure as president, Dr. Best established priorities that include: ensuring a focus on and highlight on academic quality; building a sustainable financial model, which includes automation and streamlining practices; expanding the spectrum of educational opportunities available to students, including seeking out markets beyond undergraduate and graduate degrees; strengthening alumni engagement and developing a strong fundraising arm through the UCM Alumni Foundation, including filling key staff and leadership positions; and engaging marketing and branding efforts to roll out a new slogan and graphic icon that relates to students and assists with building program-level recruitment. He has also challenged faculty and staff to continue a long legacy of being service-minded toward students and to become problem solvers.
Throughout his service at UCM, Dr. Best has shared his financial and administrative expertise to the benefit of the university. Early in his career, he was appointed to a Board of Governors Academic Affairs Subcommittee on Faculty Compensation, which recommended a new faculty compensation model ultimately approved by the board. During the 2014–2015 academic year, he played a role in the development of the university’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model (SRAM) by chairing a team that considered how the budget process could further enhance transparency and accountability, optimally allocate resources to academic programs and directly connect to student success, growth with quality and sustainability and efficiency metrics.
While serving the Harmon College, Dr. Best played a key role in the college’s accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), having been involved in three of the college’s Continuous Improvement Review visits by external teams. He was also engaged with AACSB at a national level, having served on the AACSB Continuous Improvement Review Committee and on numerous peer review teams for other university business programs. As dean, he oversaw the creation of the Donn G. Forbes Center for Financial Studies, funded through a private gift to the university, and facilitated a partnership with the UCM Alumni Foundation to create the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) with an initial allocation of $500,000.
Dr. Best’s tenure at UCM includes a strong record of participation in department, college and university committees that have given him a broad, well-rounded knowledge of the campus community. He has served on the Faculty Senate, Academic Program Review Committee, University Research Committee, University Scholarship Committee, Professional Enhancement Committee and a number of other committees and work groups. His teaching assignments included more than 100 sections of a dozen unique courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels covering concepts in corporate finance, international finance, investments and personal finance. His professional contributions include publication of numerous scholarly research-based articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 40 presentations at professional conferences, as well as service on the Board of Directors for both the MidAmerican Business Deans Association and the Southwestern Business Deans Association.
Dr. Best began his higher education at Georgia College in Milledgeville, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in management. Advanced study led to a Ph.D. in finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Active members of the community, Dr. Best and his wife, Robin Best, reside in Warrensburg, Mo., and have two daughters, Amy Burk and Lindsey Keirsey, and six grandchildren. Previously, Dr. Best served as treasurer and board member of Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County, and he currently serves as a member of Johnson County Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors, Whiteman Area Leadership Council, Missouri Campus Compact Presidential Advisory Board and KCPT Board of Directors.