hero image
Eric Kirby - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Eric Kirby

Assistant Professor of Management and Business Law | Southern Utah University


Specializing in student success strategies, civil litigation, and student retention and first year experience in higher education


Dr. Eric Kirby is an Assistant Professor of Management, Leadership, and Business Law in the Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business at Southern Utah University.
Kirby brings over 20 years of leadership and managerial experience from the private and public sectors. He has developed a wide-array of leadership perspectives and managerial insights while practicing law, working in the construction industry and in the federal court system, managing numerous departments and employees at SUU, and starting businesses. Kirby successfully passed the bar exams in three states and interned, clerked, and worked in numerous capacities within the legal field. While practicing law for nearly a decade, Kirby’s practice primarily focused on business law, civil litigation, and construction law. More recently, Kirby served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at SUU where he managed a myriad of departments and helped create innovative campus-wide programs which increased institutional retention and completion rates to historical highs and garnered national recognition.
Kirby is the co-author of a management and leadership book focused on retention and persistence in higher education. He co-hosts a weekly podcast series discussing innovative management and leadership tools for higher education and interviewing industry leaders from across the nation to discuss their best thinking on the challenges and opportunities within higher education. His research interests include innovative and unique retention and completion practices, leadership development, and the success of marginalized student populations (with a particular focus on Native American students). He has given presentations, workshops, and consult with various organizations across the nation on leadership development, managing generational differences (Gen Z), management/leadership strategies, organizational restructure, employee retention, and shifting business culture.
Kirby is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for scholastic excellence, distinguished advising and mentoring, commitment to excellence, achievement in experiential learning, distinguished integration, distinguished service awards, and for being a campus influencer.
He has a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University, a Master’s degree in Administration and a Juris Doctorate (law degree) from the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in Global Leadership from the College of Business at Indiana Institute of Technology (Indiana Tech).





Eric Kirby Publication



Dr. Eric Kirby, assistant professor at SUU loading image Dr. Eric Kirby, assistant professor at SUU at TedxSUU 2019 loading image Dr. Eric Kirby, assistant professor at SUU loading image


Why Choose SUU - Personalized Attention ConnectED: Dr. Eric Kirby, Southern Utah University, The Tavi Way to Student Success The eyes of leadership: elephants in the forest | Eric Kirby | TEDxSUU


Episode 1: Introducing the ASCEND podcast

Industry Expertise (4)



Legal Services

Management Consulting

Areas of Expertise (10)

Non Traditional Students in Higher Education

Second Year Retention in HIgher Education

Student Success Strategies

Student Retention in Higher Education

Political Science

First Year Experience, Higher Education

Event Planning & Management

Constitutional Law

Civil Litigation

Administration in Higher Education

Education (4)

University of Denver: J.D., Law

Indiana Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Global Leadership and Academic Administration

University of Denver: M.S., Administration

Southern Utah University: B.S., Political Science

Accomplishments (8)

Commitment to Excellence (professional)

Southern Utah University Thunderbird Award

Five-time Legal Rising Star

Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers

Board of Trustees Award of Excellence


Advisor of the Year (professional)

Southern Utah University

Outstanding Mentor (professional)

Southern Utah University

Gerald R. Sherratt Award (professional)

Southern Utah University

SUU Campus Influencer Award (professional)

2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

SUU’s Distinguished Service Award (professional)

2020, 2021

Languages (1)

  • Spanish

Media Appearances (6)

Sophomore Retention Rates Increase Through SOAR Program

SUU News  online


According to Eric Kirby, assistant vice president for student affairs (Completion and Student Success), “Southern Utah University increased retention of first-year students by 9% over the past three years.” Because retention for first-year students has increased by so much, SUU turned their focus to sophomores at SUU.

view more

Solving the Retention Puzzle

SUU News  online


Colleges and universities around the country are struggling to keep first-year students engaged and enrolled year after year. Only 61% of first-year students who started in 2015 returned to the same institution in 2016, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse.

view more

Utah Court of Appeals visits SUU

The Spectrum  online


This is the second time the Court of Appeals has come to the university and the sixth time to Cedar City to hear oral arguments. Eric Kirby, executive director of completion and student success at SUU, said the proceedings gave students an in-depth look at Utah’s court system. “This will provide an education opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members to give them a unique perspective on our justice system,” Kirby said.

view more

Utah Intercollegiate Legislature gives students hands-on experience

Higher Ed Utah  online


Twenty-two students from across the state convened in the Senate Building at the Capitol Complex for the inaugural Utah Intercollegiate Legislature (UIL) on Thursday, March 26 & Friday, March 27, 2015. Drawn from the most recent class of legislative interns and student leadership at participating campuses, UIL students participated in a day and a half long legislative simulation of the Utah State Senate. UIL delegates were encouraged to submit bills that were added to a reading calendar, considered in committees, and debated on the floor. Topics of UIL bills ranged from concealed carry provisions to air quality amendments and exploring the expansion of the Frontrunner.

view more

Stewart, Robles have a lot in common in first congressional debate

Deseret News  online


Eric Kirby, executive director at SUU's Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service, called the debate a success for both Stewart, who is pursuing a second term in Congress, and Robles, who has served in the Utah Legislature since 2008. Both parties "played it safe" as they gave polite, comprehensive answers, he said.

view more

Alumni Spotlight: Eric Kirby

SUU Alumni Association  online


Eric Kirby (’03, Political Science) is an attorney at Murphy Decker Hensen & Cook-Olson, P.C. in Denver, Colorado. His education at Southern Utah University taught him that with hard work and dedication he could accomplish his goals.

view more

Articles (1)

Retention challenges for indigenous Peruvian college students on Beca 18 scholarship and strategies to improve their experiences and academic success

Taylor & Francis

Eric Kirby, Yulia Tolstikov-Mast & Jennie L. Walker


This paper analyzes challenges indigenous Peruvian college students face in completing their studies, based on field research that included interviews with Peruvian higher education leaders, administrators, researchers, and faculty, and a review of published research. Since 2012, the government of Peru has sponsored Beca 18, a comprehensive scholarship designed to attract and support students from underrepresented populations, namely impoverished and largely indigenous communities.

view more

Courses (7)

ACCT 3350 Business Law and Ethics

A study of our legal system including the Constitution, administrative law, torts, crimes, labor law, antitrust, consumer protection, environmental law, international securities, contracts, UCC Art. 2, property, bailments, business organizations, agency, and intellectual property. Also includes coverage of social responsibility and ethical issues as they relate to business within society.

UNIV 1020 Strategies for Success

This variable topics course explores subjects geared toward student success. Sample topics include career exploration, job search preparation, exploring vocabulary development, and in-depth academic skill development.

UNIV 1020 Peer Leadership Skills

This course was designed for orientation leaders to develop the new orientation system, Thunder Academy, peer-to-peer mentoring skills, and leadership/professional development.

UNIV 1050 College Student Success

This course focuses on student success through systematic exploration of values and skills that will assist student in becoming successful in their academic endeavors. It is designed to help launch students’ university careers successfully and to equip students with tools and abilities to increase their career and academic skills.

UNIV 1057 Student-Athlete College Success

This course provides SUU student-athletes with valuable knowledge and tools that will aid in their transition from high school to college. This course will focus on initiatives of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Affairs Department, including: Academic Development, Personal Development, Service Development, and Career Development.

UNIV 4920 Leadership & Professional Development

This course introduces students to various leadership philosophies and professional development techniques and strategies to help prepare students to succeed in the professional world as interns, employees, and leaders.

UNIV 4920 State Legislature and Leadership

The purpose of this course was to introduce students to emerging leadership philosophies, trends, and managerial issues that they will confront as future leaders. Also, aspects of professional development techniques and strategies were discussed to help prepare students to succeed in the professional world.