Dr. Tracy with his newest project—inside Carriger Hall.

Who is Dean Emmett? We asked...

Posted November 12, 2021

Where did you grow up?

On I-81! Or at least it felt like that. My parents lived and still live in New York City. But my grandmother and grandfather – who lived on the floor below us in the apartment building – always brought my brother and me back to Western North Carolina to be near our family in the Smoky Mountains. That means 324 miles of Virginia multiple times a year. I know almost every exit, especially exit 26.

What are your interests outside of work?

My parents raised my brother and me to be very active in sports and the outdoors (they probably wanted us out of the house!). Hiking, fishing, hunting. I’ve had a fly-fishing rod in my hand as long as I can remember.

How do you feel about living in Southwest Virginia?

Love it. The opportunities here to engage with the outdoors and spend time with creative, passionate and great people make this a truly special part of the world.

What do you like to read?

Lately more collections of short stories – Borges, Bowles – or poetry – Cavafy and Bishop.

What type of music do you listen to?

Everything. Growing up we listened to everything – blues, opera, world music. One of the highlights of my career was being able to write the Oxford Encyclopedia entries for Son House and Jimi Hendrix.

Who were your mentors when you decided to focus on a business career?

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have mentors inside and outside of academia – and I owe that to my parents. They instilled in me a sense of respect for mentorship and it’s been a key part of helping me analyze situations and understand what I’m seeing and, more importantly, what I’m not seeing. One of the harder parts of life is grasping with the loss of those mentors. But you wake up one day and realize you are now as much a mentor as a mentee.

Do you still hear from people you have mentored?

[Laughs]. Every day. Every single day.

Do you prefer lecturing in a classroom or working hands-on with students?

It’s never what I prefer, but what gives students more value. I’ve typically found that the blend of group and individual learning is most effective. In business, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to deliver learning that way.

Do you have pets?

A boykin spaniel. Every day she stares at me like, “why aren’t we out hunting grouse?” I’m sure she believes my life’s work is a big disappointment!

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