Dean, Norm Brodsky College of Business, Rider University
Dr. Eugene Kutcher ’01 MA was recently appointed dean of the Norm Brodsky College of Business at Rider University after serving as interim dean for a year. Kutcher joined Rider in 2007 as an assistant professor in the Department of Management. He was promoted to associate professor and tenured in 2013 and assumed the role of department chairperson in 2015. Before he rose through the ranks at Rider, he was a graduate student at Montclair State University, studying Industrial Organizational Psychology.
“Simply put – Industrial Organizational Psychology is the social scientific study of behavior in the workplace,” says Kutcher. After graduating, his first career step was in corporate learning and development. Kutcher notes that his education prepared him for this applied work and equipped him “to prioritize evidence-based methods, to always be assessing and evaluating and to consider all influences on human behavior in the workplace.”
After spending some time in the field, Kutcher pursued his PhD at Virginia Tech. According to Kutcher, “for this type of advanced graduate study, the Montclair State program trained me how to design and construct sound studies, how to think critically about the research process, and about the important principles and sub-disciplines in this vast and multifaceted area of study.”
Kutcher recalls the program as an intense one that prepares students for a wide range of career paths. “The others with whom I went through the program are doing some amazing things in consulting, government, business and academia,” he adds.
Now, in his role of administration within higher education, he calls upon his graduate education as much as ever. “The attention that IO Psychology places on workplace climate, management skills, work motivation, perceived fairness and sociopolitical dynamics provides a lens through which to detect, interpret, and manage the interpersonal and cultural elements of leadership,” adds Kutcher.
Since graduating, Kutcher has remained connected to the IO Psychology program. “I have been following the program over the years as an alumnus and a fan, and I know that it has grown only more intense in its academic rigor, the quantity and quality of faculty, and the opportunities for students,” says Kutcher.
“My fondest memories are the relationships that I built with fellow students. When studying in an intensive program like this, it’s natural to build and rely on a support network of peers.” He notes that as students of psychology, he and his classmates were “very aware of this human need and were motivated to help and support each other.” A particularly fond memory for Kutcher was attending academic conferences with faculty members and other students. “I worked in a research group, and we presented at the Eastern Academy of Management’s annual conference in Philadelphia,” recalls Kutcher.
“It was my first introduction to the world of academic conferences – presenting a study to researchers from other programs and institutions, and then being both critiqued and supported at the same time. Over the years, attending annual, regional and national conferences has been a part of the job. I always enjoy reconnecting with the constituency from the Montclair State program,” he notes.
When asked about who made an impact on him during his time at Montclair State, Kutcher shares that Dr. Jennifer Bragger had – and continues to have – a profound influence on him. “I was in my first year of the master’s program when she visited as a faculty candidate. I was thrilled when she joined the faculty and assumed leadership over the program. She became my thesis advisor, my supervisor when I worked as a graduate assistant the following year and a wonderful professor in the classroom,” says Kutcher. “She is fair, engaging and creative in her teaching methods. It has been two decades since I graduated from the program, but she remains my primary research collaborator and a dear friend. As much as I value our relationship, I know that I am not the only one who feel this way about her. I also know that she is not the only faculty member in this program who engenders this type of affection and respect.”
If Kutcher could share words of wisdom with current students hoping to work in higher education, he would note, “Like any industry, higher education has its challenges – perhaps never more extreme than the current responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it is the day-to-day or the existential hardships, it helps to see them all as opportunities to develop,” he adds.
“I hope it doesn’t sound too cliché, but I’ve learned to never stop learning. Identify role models, and then observe how they move from one success to another, and how they handle the inevitable challenges and failures. Identify the reading list and then try to be as disciplined as you can about putting in the daily work to stay informed. Identify the important success criteria and then think of it as a research study,” says Kutcher.