UIndy School of Business Welcomes New Dean Karl Knapp

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The University of Indianapolis School of Business is ushering in a new era with a new dean. According to UIndy 360, Karl Knapp was appointed as the Dean of the School of Business on Nov. 27. Knapp said he feels thrilled and inspired by the faculty on campus. After serving as dean eight years ago, Knapp said he learned the managing aspect of the position and is now ready to focus on leading the school as a unit.

Dean of the School of Business and Associate Professor of Business Administration Karl Knapp poses in Krannert Memorial Library. Knapp served as Interim Dean before being named dean on Nov. 27 after an extensive and competitive search throughout November.
Photo contributed by Karl Knapp

“I learned a lot of the internal processes in managing this organization—budgeting and the boring things that you just have to do,” Knapp said. “So I can step into those particular administrative tasks, but the real focus for me is leading the organization through these difficult, competitive situations.”

According to Knapp, the role of the dean can be seen as a product leader. After learning AI programming language in 1986, Knapp said he was hooked on the idea of implementing AI into business, and even took a sabbatical to study it.

“I’ve been interested in it and implementing varying degrees of expert systems and AI systems for quite a long time,” Knapp said. “So the sabbatical was timely because that was right before ChatGPT blew up. I spent my sabbatical learning how those deep learning neural network systems work and I brought that knowledge back to our faculty.”

Knapp said he would like to see students work with AI ethically in the classroom, as it is a tool. While others may see AI as something negative, according to Knapp, implementing AI in learning is like discovering the calculator.

“A lot of universities, our initial reaction was to ban it,” Knapp said. “… I want to teach my students how to use this new, advanced technology ethically and appropriately. How to cite their sources, understand the pros and cons, what it’s good at and what it’s not good at.”

Professor of International Business and Marketing and long-term colleague of Knapp Katharine Bohley said she has worked with him on curriculum design to prepare students for success post-graduation. According to Bohley, Knapp’s logistical approaches to issues were refreshing to see.

“There’s never a decision when Karl wasn’t always fact-driven,” Bohley said. “So every decision is made based on facts. … As a dean, everyone wants their program to feel like it’s the most important one. He’s always like, ‘Let’s revert back. Let’s think about what the data shows us and let’s go from there.’ I think that’s been very refreshing. That’s why when it came time for the dean’s search, I prayed that he would get it because there have been so many changes at the campus.”

According to Bohley, while he has held multiple roles during his time on campus, Knapp always had the qualities of a leader. Going from peer to boss to peer again has not changed how comfortable with his fellow faculty members he is, Bohley said.

“We’ve had this kind of role switching back and forth. But I felt like no matter if he had the title or not, he was a leader,” Bohley said. “So it’s not uncomfortable. Sometimes a peer of years becomes your boss, it might be uncomfortable, but he’s done that, came back and went back and is totally accepted, not just from me but from all faculty that were there in the different transition times.”

Knapp said his values come from his time working at Indianapolis Life Insurance Company where he learned valuable skills on how to serve the people around him. 

“My mentor for years, her name is Carla Best. She was a senior vice president of human resources and I worked at a company called Indianapolis Life Insurance Company, and it was my first job out of college,” Knapp said. “They were very ethical and how they treated people with respect, so I had a great model to learn from. … I serve the individuals who work for me. My job is to harness their passion, their ideas, suggestions and remove barriers for them.”

According to Bohley, Knapp treats the school as though it is a family where everyone is close to each other. While the school strayed from that relationship with its growth, Bohley said that Knapp not only brings that back, but he also balances having a more casual relationship with colleagues, students and the community alike. This is a quality of a leader, like a Dean, Bohley said.

“He does what’s right for the students, for the faculty and the university, and juggling those three is a tremendous challenge—he worries about all stakeholders,” Bohley said.

Knapp said students can expect change in the master’s programs within the School of Business. While still under planning, the ideas are inspired by UIndy President Tanuja Singh, and her ideas.

“We’re going to revise,” Knapp said. “We’re already in the process of revising all of our master’s programs. I was somewhat inspired by our new president and some of her ideas.”

According to Knapp, the School of Business with still keep the same values despite the dean change. Due to all faculty in the school having a background in the field, their mission is to amplify the skills of the students with their passion for teaching business.

“I don’t know that our attitudes would change,” Knapp said. “Our faculty are here because we’ve all had careers in the industry. We’re here because we want to teach, we want to help young people be amazing. I don’t see a big difference in how the school has operated. Dr. Belcher did, I thought, a fantastic job prior to me. The culture of the school is solid.”

Knapp said while he believes higher education is in a difficult situation, UIndy can adapt to whatever challenges it faces. The culture of the school is what is going to help serve the students in the future, according to Knapp.

“… Higher-ed is in a challenging situation, but I really like where we’re positioned,” Knapp said. “We have a changing and adaptive culture in our school and I think our university. So that’ll serve us, I think, well going forward.”

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