The University of Indianapolis named a new dean for its business school Wednesday, even as its previous dean is suing the school for wrongful termination.
Larry Belcher, an economist by training, will move from Taylor University in June to lead UIndy’s business school, which has nearly 600 undergraduate students and about 140 MBA students.
The UIndy business school hasn’t had a permanent dean since January 2013, when previous dean Sheela Yadav took medical leave.
While serving as UIndy’s business dean for three years, Yadav was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and later learned she had sleep apnea, cataplexy and narcolepsy, according to a federal lawsuit Yadav filed against UIndy in February.
Yadav’s lawsuit quotes a February 2013 memo from UIndy Provost Debora Balogh that removed Yadav as dean but said she could return to UIndy as a faculty member after she received a medical release to work.
A UIndy spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on Yadav’s lawsuit. A message left with Yadav’s attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.
Yadav received a doctor’s clearance to work as a professor in late March 2013 but, according to her lawsuit, Balogh delayed her return to work until the fall 2013 semester. Then, on Aug. 26, 2013, Yadav asked for an extension of her medical leave until January 2014.
UIndy granted that request, according to the lawsuit, but then on Dec. 3, 2013, terminated Yadav.
“Yadav’s requests for accommodation were reasonable and temporary, yet [UIndy] rejected them without properly engaging with her in the interactive process of presenting reasonable alternatives to her requests,” the lawsuit states.
During Yadav’s absence, UIndy business professor Karl Knapp has served as acting dean. When Belcher takes over from Knapp later this year, he hopes to build on the strengths UIndy already has in its business professors.
“You’ve got a faculty that combines a lot of professional experience with academic training,” said Belcher, 58, who spent 20 years as a business professor at Stetson University in Florida before joining Taylor. “There are some curricular areas that are strong and unique, such as supply chain and logistics, that are going to be interesting to develop.”
He also said he'd explore possibilities for interdsciplinary programs that focus on the life sciences industry or, possibly, behavioral economics.
Belcher, a native of Jeffersonville, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Hanover College, a master’s degree in economics at Auburn University and a doctorate in economics from Indiana University.
Belcher and his wife, Susan, have two college-aged sons.