The Donald G. Soderquist College of Business at John Brown University recently gained a new undergraduate department head. Ryan Ladner recently received his doctorate from George Fox University, and defended his dissertation this past June.
Ladner has lived in several places across the United States including Tennessee, Florida and now Arkansas. He grew up in Passchristian, Miss., a small town he says is similar to Siloam Springs.
“Well, you had cow pastures and fields and it was a very rural town in particular,” Ladner said. “It was fun, family-oriented. Almost a childhood like you would see in a movie nowadays. You knew all these people, you grew up with all these people, you went to school with these people, you graduated with these people and you still keep in contact with them.”
Ladner stayed in Mississippi to earn his bachelor’s degree in finance. He then worked for Frito-Lay for three years.
While he was there, he married his wife, Brittany Ladner. Two years after they married, they found out they were expecting a child. Ladner then decided to pursue a career in higher education, leading him and his family to Chattanooga, Tenn. He worked as a resident director, and eventually moved to Palm Beach, Florida.
While working and trying to raise a family, Ladner began to become disenchanted with Florida, due to the cost of living and lack of a family environment. A friend of his, current professor and department head for degree completion in the Donald G. Soderquist College of Business, Sam Heinrich, began to talk to Ladner about joining him at the University.
“I said ‘I want to be in an area where we can afford to live comfortably, where the school system for my kids is good, where they encourage relationships between the professor and the student and they have a Christ-centered mission,’ and Heinrich said ‘I really believe JBU has everything you want,’” Ladner said, describing his conversation with Heinrich.
However, after his conversation with Heinrich, Ladner was still not completely convinced.
“I’ll just be honest,” Ladner said, “Moving from Florida to Arkansas it was like ‘Who wants to move to Arkansas? No way am I going to Arkansas!’ and I told my wife that and she said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to Arkansas!’”
Although Ladner was hesitant about moving across the country, his frustration with Florida continued to grow, and when he and his wife came to Siloam Springs for the position interview they had a positive impression of Siloam.
“We were on the back roads from XNA to Siloam, and it was just like pasture after pasture and barns and I look at Ryan and said, ‘So how far are we?’ and he looked at his map and said, ‘Um, we’re pretty close,’” Brittany Ladner laughed retelling her first experience in Arkansas. “And my eyes got huge! But once we drove into downtown Siloam, I kind of started to fall in love.”
The Ladners agreed that since they have been at The University they have felt assured that it is exactly where God wants them and their children to be.
“We moved here and the kids have a backyard,” Ladner said with a smile on his face.