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Former Business College Dean J. Taylor Sims Dies at 78

J. Taylor Sims Jr., a former dean of business at Old Dominion University, died May 30 at his home in Chesapeake, on his 78th birthday.

Sims, who led Old Dominion's College of Business and Public Administration (now the Strome College of Business) from 1994 to 2000, was remembered as a warm and kind presence on the campus and a distinguished scholar.

"I worked with Taylor as a vice president while he was dean," said Old Dominion President John R. Broderick. "He was one of the most likable people who ever set foot on the campus, and he had remarkable knowledge and understanding of the various aspects of marketing."

A native of Texas, Sims moved to Norfolk in 1994 when he was appointed dean. In that position, he helped overhaul the business curriculum and oversaw the design and funding of a state-of-the-art building, Constant Hall. In 2000, Taylor moved to the ODU faculty as a professor of marketing, where he taught until his retirement in 2008.

"First and foremost, Taylor was a gentleman and very agreeable colleague," said James V. Koch, president emeritus of the University and Board of Visitors Professor of Economics. "He demonstrated a fine understanding of the intricacies of accreditation. He also was an excellent mentor of young faculty."

Sims earned his Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his undergraduate and master's degrees from Texas Tech University.

Prior to coming to ODU, he served as provost and acting president of Cleveland State University. His other academic posts included dean of the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis; dean of the College of Business at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and associate dean of the College of Business at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Before entering academia, Sims was a vice president at the Marketing Research Corporation of America in Chicago.

John Ford, professor and Eminent Scholar of marketing at Old Dominion, said Sims played a pivotal role in expanding research at the business college.

"He was instrumental in moving us more forcefully into the international business arena," Ford said. "This was a very important strategic direction for us. He was also focused on quality research, which helped us raise the visibility of the College of Business and Public Administration in global academic circles."

Outside academia, Sims was a gifted pianist and baritone vocalist who performed with numerous choirs.

He was a patron of the arts, supporting the Virginia Opera, Virginia Symphony Orchestra and other classical music organizations around the country.

Sims is survived by his wife, Janice O'Neil Sims, his four sons and three grandsons. A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, June 12, at Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Norfolk.

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