Coming Full Circle
College of Business Dean R.J. Nemer
When alumnus Robert J. (R.J.) Nemer hears someone call out, “Hey dean,” he sometimes forgets to turn around. “I am still pinching myself,” said Nemer, who took the reins at the College of Business in January 2022.
Nemer earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from The University of Akron in 1990 and a Juris Doctorate from Akron Law in 1995. Leaving his first position as an estate tax attorney, he founded a sports agency in 1998 and grew it into the largest independently owned golf management and marketing agency in the world. He subsequently sold that agency to William Morris Endeavor (WME) the parent company of IMG, the largest sports management agency in the world. Nemer ran golf globally in that role.
Prior to returning to UA, Nemer worked for over 2 decades in the global sports industry, and most recently had been serving as chief marketing officer for MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.
It’s been a road with several forks, a story with surprising twists. Nemer credits his Zip years as the impetus for the journey.
“When I was here as a student,” said Nemer, “I felt that my instructors and professors, both undergrad and at the School of Law, really cared about me. They knew about my passion points and my strengths and weaknesses. They really wanted to invest in me and my career. The instruction went well beyond the classroom.”
When Nemer started his sports agency, some of the advice he sought was from his former professors. And when he was named dean of the College of Business, many of the congratulatory notes he received came from UA mentors.
College of Business Dean R.J. Nemer still loves mentoring students.
As dean, he is trying to emulate that model, meeting students personally and investing in their lives and careers. “To be able to do so is one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Another favored aspect of his role, said Nemer, is to share how the capabilities, resources and offerings of the College of Business have changed astronomically since he was a student.
“There really has been rebirth at The University of Akron,” said the man who understands reinvention. When asked about the genesis of his career shifts, Nemer said, “When I find that I have become complacent with something, then I know that I am not growing. I like to push out of my comfort zone.”
While he loved being a sports agent, after two decades, Nemer found he was getting “more charged up about helping younger agents than doing my own deals. That spoke to me in terms of what I should be looking to do down the road.”
In his last position at MAI Capital, Nemer enjoyed his work, but it wasn’t what he calls “a passion point.” He remembered what it was like having a passion point when he was a sports agent--and “I knew I needed to find that passion again.”
He has faced each of these transitions without fear: “I think failure is underrated because of the lessons learned. When you become unafraid, you will move out of your comfort zone and grow.”
by Janet Chismar-Hardie '92
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