Knights Are Everywhere

I took a few days off last week to travel to Toronto for a little vacation.  Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds were playing there and so were the Blue Jays.   I am a big Oasis fan and the Blue Jays are one of just four major league stadiums I had yet to visit.  Those two reasons were excuse enough for me to convince Suzanne to hop on a plane and go Up North.

The Jays had an afternoon game and I was sitting on the deck of a restaurant on Lake Ontario when a young woman approached me and said: “I think I know you.  Are you Dean Jarley?”  Turns out she is an IB student, planning to graduate in December.  I never did find out why she was in Toronto, but the encounter made me smile for two reasons:  First, I can’t imagine when I was in college ever approaching the Dean (frankly, I didn’t even know who he or she was) to engage in conversation.  Maybe that’s just southern hospitality.  Maybe it’s Josh’s efforts to make me a micro-influencer (apparently that really is a thing).  But I’d like to think it’s our culture of engagement at work — the emphasis on professional development and how approachable we are in the College of Business.  At any rate, I’m marking it down as “a win.” Second, Knights really are everywhere — it’s a sign of our growing national prominence and expanding geographic footprint. On the plane ride home, I saw two more UCF shirts. I’m headed to San Francisco in a couple of weeks. We have a large presence in Silicon Valley.  If you see me on the street, stop and say hello.


Old School

Sometime last week, I had a meeting with Chris Leo.  Chris is teaching our Capstone Course this fall, and I was trying to coordinate some things with him. As the meeting was ending, it struck me that he was in a white shirt and tie: Normal teaching attire for Chris, but we are between semesters.  When I asked him why he was dressed up, he replied: “Well, I am meeting with you.  That’s a big deal for me.  I don’t get to do that much.”  I chuckled and told him: “Now if only I could get the economists to wear pants (they are shorts kind of people).”  More seriously, I thought:  We really do live in a graceless age. Nice to see someone who is still old school. It’s kind of like when you get a handwritten note from someone; it’s so rare that it sticks with you.


What Grads Tell Me When They Cross the Stage

Saturday was summer graduation. As is typically the case, I shook a lot of hands, more than any other dean on the stage. I also have short conversations with many students…

The most common conversation is me saying: “Congratulations!” (I say this to every student.). The graduate returns my greeting with: “Thank you.” Some say that as they look me in the eye, firmly shake my hand and smile. Others scurry by after a quick handshake dreading the moment or searching for the photographer.

Another common response to my greeting is: “Appreciate what you’ve done for me.” Or “Appreciate you.” I usually respond with: “Go be awesome.” A dozen or so tell me: “I got to the one!” This means they are graduating with the career they had hoped to embark on when they came to us. I smile and hope they told Lonny. One student asked for a hug. She had just earned her PhD. I am not a hugger, but threw caution to the wind and granted her request.

If the student is wearing a sash indicating they are a “veteran,” I thank them for their service and they give a nod of appreciation.

But the most meaningful conversations I have on stage don’t involve words. They involve non-traditional students, typically forty or older and typically female. They have the same look on their face as my grandmother did when I attended her high school graduation. She was born into a logging camp. Her mother died when she was young. She raised her siblings, was married at sixteen during the Great Depression and had my mother shortly after. She was dogged in her desire to make sure I went to college. After I did, she found the time to get her high school diploma at age sixty. It meant everything to her: respect, equality, and a sense of accomplishment that only comes from completing unfinished business that ate at her for years. When I see that look on a graduate, I know exactly what it means. Frankly, it doesn’t get more UCF than this. I smile, nod, think of her and am grateful I get to do this job.

You Should Probably Sleep on It.

Every month during the academic year we host an event downtown sponsored by our friends at Addition Financial, the Dean’s Speaker Series.  There I ask one of our faculty members to talk about their research and what it means for people working in the real world.  People get to ask questions and interesting dialogue is sure to follow.   I confess that I like to select faculty who we just hired for these talks: it’s a great way to introduce a new colleague to our culture of engagement in the college and I get to show off  one of my new shiny toys.  Thanks to the ever-inquisitive Jennifer Johnson, I think I have my first speaker for the Fall.

Dr. Jeff Gish will be joining our Entrepreneurship faculty in a few days. He just published an article on the relationship between sleep and entrepreneurs ability to imagine and evaluate new venture ideas.  In posting a link to his research on LinkedIn, Jeff commented: ..”for those entrepreneurs who consistently choose hustle over sleep, thinking that sleep comes after success, you are subverting your efforts to succeed…”    You can read the article by clicking here,  but I have a short attention span and would rather here it from him in person.  So, Tiffany, book Jeff for the fall and I want you there to hear this talk my sleepless wonder.

I’m betting that the key finding of this study probably generalizes to things like students cramming for exams or sleep deprived Deans coming up with new ideas in the middle of the night.  I guess before we evaluate the next big idea on how to improve the college, we should probably sleep on it.


The eXRays?

A couple of weeks ago, the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they had received permission from Major League Baseball to explore the possibility of playing half their games in Montreal. It seems like a crazy idea, but it’s not unprecedented to have a team play some of their home games in another city. When I was young, the Green Bay Packers played some of their games in Milwaukee. More recently, the Montreal Expos played some home games in Puerto Rico just before they moved to D.C. and became the Nationals.

That said, the Rays proposal is more radical and would probably require a rebranding of the franchise. Luckily, I have some advice for the Rays on this very topic. First, they should listen to our latest podcast. It just happens to be with Dr. Massiah talking about the challenges and pitfalls of rebranding. You can listen by clicking here. Second, I have the perfect name for them: the eXRAYS. (Make that e a superscript: Expos + Rays = eXRAYS). Guessing apparel sales will go through the roof….

But are the eXRAYS really likely to be a thing? Well in a week or so we will have a new podcast to help you figure that out. Stay tuned.

How to Go To College Regret Free

A recent study by Payscale (click here) has gotten a lot of press by reporting that two-thirds of graduates with at least a bachelors degree expressed some regret about their college experience. While such a headline might make you think lots of people regretted going to college, that question wasn’t directly asked of the respondents. The closest is an item that allowed graduates to say that they got too many degrees and are over-educated for their position. That choice finished dead last– only about 1% of respondents checked that box. Those who attended college and did not graduate, were not asked about regrets (some no doubt regretted that they went to college at all, others that they did not stick it out and get their degree.)

What current students should pay attention to in this report is what graduates regretted the most. The main issues are nicely summarized in the article’s conclusion:

While we can only ever hope to cherish our college experience, the outcome of our education is dictated by what we study, the connections we make, where we go to school and the financial resources it costs us.

The three biggest regrets: student debt (27%), area of study (12%), and poor networking (11%). If you are a UCF College of Business student, these issues should be very familiar to you. It is why Paul Gregg gives you lectures on personal finance and student debt, why the OPD staff and our Professional Development Courses stress the importance of getting into the right major–one that is consistent with your talents, interests, and abilities, and it is why Lonny keeps stressing the importance of developing your network. The good news is that all of these regrets are avoidable and we give you plenty of advice on how to make better choices. Take heed.

Boundless Optimism: Ed Schons

The University has one less ambassador on the payroll today with the retirement of Ed Schons.  Ed racked up 42 years in economic development, including the last 18 years at UCF and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.  I don’t remember exactly when I met Ed, but I’m guessing Tiffany made sure we met soon after I got here.

Ed is dapper (second maybe only to Gordon Chavis for best dressed man on campus) and ultra-connected (42 years in economic development does that to you).  He has more than a bit of a lead foot, is a fellow Detroit Tiger fan and is armed to the teeth.  When the Zombie Apocalypse comes–I’m heading straight to Ed and Jackie’s house.  He is one of those people who is just larger than life and the perfect person to welcome anyone to a new community.

The thing that most stands out about Ed though is his boundless optimism.  I have never seen Ed on a bad day.  I don’t think he has ever had one in his entire life.  He is optimistic about the future, about UCF, about Central Florida, about the people he works with, about the companies he tries to attract and assist here and even about surviving the Apocalypse.

Things change. Institutions  evolve.  People move on.  I’m sure Ed’s optimistic we will do just fine without him.  I am very grateful to have called him both a colleague and friend. Lets see some Spring Training games in 2020 Ed, I sure the Tigers will be better by then.  Charge On my friend.Edschons

We Love Our Alpacas

When we created Integrated Business a few years ago, I had a meeting with its new chair Jim Gilkeson where I handed him a book: “How Stella Saved the Farm”  (click here for a synopsis).  To make a long story short, the book is a simple parable about how to innovate.  Key to the story is Stella’s decision to bring in alpacas to save her farm.  At first the other animals don’t like the alpacas, mainly because they’re weird and they smell.   Acceptance and assimilation of these exotic creatures into the farm is fraught with several challenges but ultimately the alpacas’ wool saves the farm.   When I handed Jim the book I told him to “go get me some alpacas.”

He did.

What I didn’t mention to Jim at the time  is that innovative efforts like Integrated Business require a high tolerance for risk and failure and that every alpaca has a unique personality.   Case in point….

There are alpacas and then there is Chris Leo.  I love Chris Leo… He is never afraid to take a risk…