Location: Various

Friday I was walking out of the student union when a young man politely stopped me and asked for help. He looked like a high school student, or maybe a freshman. When I said “Sure, what do you need?” He replied, “Can you tell me where the location ‘various’ is?”

It took me a second to understand what he had just asked. When it registered, I said: “Well, that could be anywhere at UCF.” He shrugged and marched on. I should have stopped him and asked why he was on campus or what event he was trying to get to, but in the moment, his question left me almost as bewildered as he was.

At first, I blamed him for asking such a silly question. Then I blamed whoever gave him the form with such vague instructions. Then I blamed me. I should have been more helpful. It was a teachable moment and I whiffed. Tiffany would have never let this happen, I thought. She would have rescued him and he would have been grateful.

It’s easy to forget how daunting of a place UCF can be. How easy it is to get lost in a crowd or in one of our various buildings. It’s one of the motivations behind our first professional development course. You can’t succeed here if you don’t know where you want to go or what you need to get there. It all seems easy — until it isn’t. Then panic can set in as you search nearby to find someone who can give you the answers you now desperately need. If only that young man had checked the form he was given and asked the person who gave it to him, where exactly he needed to go. Everybody would have been better off, especially him. Instead, he left it to a last-minute chance encounter with a stranger who wasn’t prepared to answer the question he asked. It didn’t go well. Don’t let this happen to you.

Welcome to the Majors Summer 2022

When someone becomes part of something that is different from what they have experienced, it is a good idea to mark this change with an event that signifies their movement into unfamiliar terrain and helps them better understand what will be expected of them going forward.
We welcome 450 students to the college this week with “Welcome to the Majors.”

The College of Business is different than what students have experienced to this point in their education. How different depends a bit on where they are coming from, but one way it is different for every new student is the importance we place on “doing.” Up until this point, most students have probably thought that school was about acquiring knowledge and seeking to “be” something — an accountant, finance major, etc. Success required you to sit and learn — meaning passively consuming lectures and correctly repeating what you were taught on exams.

The basic message of Welcome to the Majors is to let you know you have entered a different experience where that strategy won’t be enough to succeed. The College of Business is a professional school. We believe the ultimate purpose of business education isn’t knowledge, but action. Don’t misunderstand. Knowledge is important. But if you don’t learn to do things with that knowledge, it’s not very useful. In short, knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. In our College, you must do.

This starts at Welcome to the Majors where we encourage you to think about what you want to do in your career rather than what you want to be. This emphasis on doing continues in our core courses where we ask you to work in teams to solve real-world problems and in our professional development courses where you need to invest time in getting out of your comfort zone and do things that will help you develop your professional network. We want you to leave us with a reputation for doing that gets you a great job offer before graduation.

All of this will require a change in your mindset. Welcome to the Majors is just the start of that process. It will introduce you to the many opportunities you have in the college to embrace doing, connect with amazing people and get to where you want to go. But you need to come ready to dive in.

To learn more about how to succeed in the college, check out our guide by clicking here. It will give you a wealth of information about our culture, resources to help you succeed and tips from students who have excelled in our environment.

A Speech to Remember

I go to a lot of graduation ceremonies. It’s part of the job. Like most people, I rarely remember much of what the commencement speaker says. It’s not that the speeches are bad, or poorly delivered or devoid of moments of humor. It is that they are largely the same. Most speakers emphasize that this day is the start of the journey, not the end, that life has challenges, that your education has equipped you to face them and that you must rise to the occasion and change the world.

Saturday was different. Rick Cardenas, the incoming Darden CEO, finance major and UCF College of Business Hall of Fame Inductee acknowledged this challenge. He admitted he didn’t remember the graduation speeches at his commencements beyond a call to change the world. He noted that this was an almost unattainable goal and as a result most people reject the challenge. Their words fade quickly from memory.

Instead, Rick challenged the graduates to change one life. He then told his story. Of how his parents came from Cuba, how is mom and stepdad moved to the Dominican Republic while he chose to stay here at age sixteen and how people along the way changed his life through acts of kindness and advice at pivotal points on his path to where he is today. It was an authentic, vulnerable and compelling speech. So compelling that several students thanked him as they crossed the stage to receive their diploma.

My favorite part of Rick’s talk was when he mentioned how sometimes a few words at the right moment can change a life without the speaker even realizing it. He gave examples from his own experience and I hoped the graduates understood that this truth is what underlies our culture of engagement in the College. Having authentic conversations that transmits knowledge and perspective from experience changes lives.

We will post the video of his talk as soon as it is available. It is thirteen minutes well spent. Thank you Rick. It was most certainly a speech to remember.

The Great Graduation

You’ve probably heard of the “Great Resignation” used to describe the number of people who resigned from their place of employment since the start of the Pandemic. Well, today we have the “Great Graduation.” Half of our Ambassadors graduate today. This is the group that helped us do more than just keep things together when everything went remote. They succeeded in making sure our culture of engagement was alive and well even if it was on Zoom. We owe them a great deal of thanks.


Six of the Ambassadors were also featured in our recreation of a scene in the Sandlot for this year’s Hall of Fame. Click on the link below to watch them hit it out of the park. Scott Wolfe, an Integrated Business major (Bertram in the video), has landed a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep job with Eli Lilly. Ethan Ancrum, a Finance and Economics major, does a great job as Smalls in the video. Ethan is a bit of an overachiever having also served on the President’s Leadership Council, has been an intern at Lockheed Martin and has a job after graduation that he could tell you about but then he would have to kill you. Adam Couch, a marketing major, is the former Communications Chair for the Ambassadors and plays Repeat in the video. Adrian Guerra, another Integrated Business major, has worked for us in the Dean’s Office, does a great job as Ham in the video and is going to work for Disney. Tanya Tremel is the former Chair of the Ambassador Relations Committee and also led our Business Leadership Council. Tanya is a member of ALPFA and plays Timmy in the video. Finally, there is Jaylen Brown. Let’s just say that Jaylen has “it.” He has had multiple leadership roles in the College, awards from the University and played in the marching band. He was the first student to emcee our College of Business Hall of Fame event and played Benny the Jet Rodriguez in the video. Want to feel old? Most of our Ambassadors had never seen The Sandlot. We had to show it to them before doing the video.


While the remaining Ambassadors didn’t feature in the video, they most certainly will feature in life. JP Vartanian is an Economics minor and is a former chair of the Ambassadors. He was featured in the opening video at the Hall of Fame. Kristina Durham is graduating in Finance, has tutored microeconomics students and interned at Robinhood. Melanie Rivera is getting her Marketing degree. She was our 2022 Founders’ Award recipient, was part of our Professional Sales Program, and is a former intern for the college’s Marketing and Communications team. Emily Irigoyen is graduating with a degree in Management, was Treasurer for the UCF Global Ambassadors program, interned at Lockheed Martin and is going to work as a Consulting Analyst for Accenture. Hannah Herzog and Makenna Subbert are both Marketing graduates. Hannah has interned at Disney and Statusphere. Makenna has interned at Synchrony and is a member of ALPFA. Daniela Del Carpio is graduating in Integrated Business, interned at Disney and was part of a national championship team from UCF that won the HSI Battle of the Brains competition.


We will miss you all. Don’t forget you will always be Ambassadors of the College, we just won’t get you up at crazy hours of the morning to help us out anymore. Come back and see us soon. We’d love to have you tell our next group of students all about the next chapter of your lives.
Charge On!

A Knight of Firsts

The 22nd Annual College of Business Hall of Fame was last Thursday night.  It is a night of celebration and pride.  My team puts a huge amount of time into reinventing this event each year, and it is always a special evening. 

This year turned out to be a year of firsts: Jaylen Brown was the first student to emcee the event. Jaylen rocked it. He was incredibly good. I’m sure he is going to get more than a few job offers from this event. I got President Cartwright to appear on stage by coming out of the corn. Rich Lapchick became the first faculty member to get the Legendary Knight award. Glenn Dial became the first inductee to also do a UCF graduation speech in the same academic year. Inez Long became the first African American woman inducted into our Hall of Fame. And, Barry Miller became the first inductee to surprise us with a million dollar pledge announcement on stage.

That is a lot of firsts for an event in it’s 22nditeration but it shows progress.  Progress in our efforts to be more inclusive.  Progress in being a place worthy of investment.  Progress in being willing to laugh at ourselves a little without fearing we will be perceived as less than a serious academic institution. Progress in how we are preparing our students for the future. Progress in the kinds of faculty we can recruit to the College. 

It was a very good night.

Build it and they will come

I am finishing my tenth year as Dean of the College of Business at UCF.  When I came, my goal was to make the College an engaging place that would make us the choice of people who have choices.   I wanted to attract students, faculty, staff, alumni, and corporate partners who understand that learning is a social exercise, that the best education occurs when you get a chance to sit on a log next to someone who has something interesting to say irrespective of their title and that the only way to get the most out of your experience is to dive in.  In the immortal words of the one-hit wonders, The New Radicals: “You get what you give.”

Out of serendipity, April has provided a bit of a victory lap for all of the people who have helped me create this culture of engagement in the college.  Two weeks ago, we hosted our first FinTech Summit.  We brought together industry leaders and academics to talk about the changes going on in the financial services sector and how our new Masters in FinTech program developed in partnership with the Department of Computer Science would help prepare students and firms to thrive in this new world.  Two hundred people attended and our enrollment in the inaugural class is likely to hit capacity.  

Then last Friday, we held the Joust Finals in a room filled with students and friends of the College.  The event is presented by UCF College of Business alum Lou Lentine’s company Echelon Fitness Media and was judged by alums and friends of the College that included UCF Trustee Harold Mills and Sean Hayes of Voloridge Investment. The winner was Sam Baker, an economics major in the College. He has a company called WiggleBrew.  They produce a worm tea fertilizer that is odorless and doubles as a pesticide.  It could help to end fertilizer-induced red tides in Florida.

This Thursday, we will cap off this celebration of engagement with the 2022 College of Business Hall of Fame Induction at Rosen Shingle Creek.  We expect about 800 people to attend and honor Inez Long, Glenn Dial and Barry Miller.  All graduates of the college who have made an impact in their chosen professions and communities. When you take risks on the path to creating an engaging place, not everything works.  We have had to learn some lessons through failure, but many things did work and most of the time when we built it, they came.  

I can’t be more pleased with where we are today thanks to the efforts of Tiffany Hughes, Jessica Greene Dourney, Tina Hand, Kelli Morales, Foard Jones, Taylor Ellis, Sevil Sonmez, Sean Robb, Darrell Johnson, Erika Hodges, Jennifer Johnson, Kellie Wise, Lesley Crews, Josh Miranda, Susan Glenn, Sarah Drehoff, Kelly Dowling, Tara Kemmerling, Roy Reid, Jonathan Gabriel, Cameron Foard, Lonny Butcher, Lynn Becker, an amazing set of department chairs, our student ambassadors, and the entire faculty and staff of the college. There is always more to do, more progress to be made and more lessons to learn, but Thursday is about showing a little pride in what we have accomplished together. I will see you all there.

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble! Joust Finals are Thursday

Cybersecurity and gardening will be among the business plans battling it out this Thursday for $50,000 at the Joust New Venture Competition finals. The Joust is UCF’s premier startup showcase event featuring students of all majors  delivering their best pitches to a panel of seasoned judges in front of a live audience. Think Shark Tank without Mark Cuban. The event is presented by Echelon Fitness Multimedia and hosted by the UCF College of Business’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. 

Several former Joust finalists have gone on to launch successful businesses after competing, so don’t miss your chance to see UCF’s entrepreneurial spirit in action. The Joust is open to the public and will start at 2 p.m., at the Celeste Hotel on UCF Main Campus. 

Read more about the finalists: https://www.ucf.edu/news/ucf-students-to-compete-for-50000-in-joust-business-competition/

Vamos Knights!

Carlos Valdez of our Integrated Business faculty and Johnathan Mell of CECS coached a team of business and engineering students to a first place finish in the second annual HSI Battle of the Brains over the weekend in Austin Texas

The HSI Battle of the Brains is sponsored by KPMG. The competition pits teams of students from Hispanics Serving Institutions in a 24-hour, cross-discipline competition. Finalists “pitch“ their comprehensive solutions to determine the champion.

Congratulations to the UCF team of business and engineering students who took home the $25,000 prize!

CBA team:

  • Sheila Corro (Accounting) Senior
  • Alejandra Del Carpio (Integrated Business) Senior
  • Julio Lazala (Integrated Business) Senior
  • Kenneth Colón (Finance/Accounting) Senior

CECS team:

  • Jazmine Manriquez (Industrial Engineering) Senior
  • Hannah Moss (Computer Science) Senior
  • Julia Silva (Computer Science) Senior
  • Natalia Colmenares (Computer Science) Junior

Great things happen when our business and engineering students work together with faculty from our two colleges to solve the world’s problems. Look at those smiles!

Campeones Nacionales!

Engagement for Days  

This week the college will be in peak engagement mode hosting a full slate of events geared at helping business students build their networks, meet alumni and learn about potential career paths and job opportunities from our corporate partners.

This afternoon in The EXCHANGE our alum and Dean’s Advisory Board member Jorge Amaro ’13MBA, CEO and founder of Ai3, will sit down for a fireside chat with our new Director of The EXCHANGE Justin Barwick as part of our Grant Thornton Speaker Series.

Tuesday is Darden Day in the College where students will have the chance to hear from marketing, finance and supply chain leaders at one of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining. Visit https://business.ucf.edu for the full list of Darden Day events and to register for a session.

On Thursday, the college takes over The Venue for our Spring Invitational – the exclusive internship and career fair for Business Knights featuring 60+ employers with internships and positions. Business students must qualify to attend the exclusive event by getting a resume review, attending an Invitational Qualifier session through the college’s Office of Professional Development or earning a Golden Ticket from a faculty member. Don’t have your Golden Ticket yet? Email cbaemployerrelations@ucf.edu to find out how you can qualify.

And for good measure, we’re hosting a Dean’s Speaker Series on Wednesday morning featuring UCF finance professor Kevin Mullally. He’ll share which factors matter most when predicting investment performance and why you might want to find out what age they started kindergarten before hiring your next mutual fund manager. Join us at the Citrus Club in Downtown Orlando for breakfast at 7:30. I promise you’ll learn a thing or two and you’ll love the bacon. Register here.

A Changing of the Guard

Jennifer Johnson who ran The EXCHANGE for us moved on to a new opportunity a few weeks ago. Jen made The EXCHANGE what it is today: A place where students can start to plan for the future by hearing from people who live the professional lives they hope to have upon graduation. 

Jen had an extensive network of connections, an eye for what matters to students, a colorful story of her own and a devotion to our students and their experience. Under her leadership, The EXCHANGE has exceeded expectations. It is a place where people want to come to speak and students want to engage in a type of learning they don’t get elsewhere. Jen was a joy to work with. She left a great legacy here, and I am forever grateful for her efforts.

Today, we welcome a new director to The EXCHANGE – Justin Barwick. Justin has been a speaker at The EXCHANGE, which is presented by FAIRWINDS Credit Union. That’s fitting because he comes to us from our friends at FAIRWINDS Credit Union.  I will be interviewing him this afternoon as part of the Grant Thornton Speaker Series. Like all guests, I want him to tell us about his professional path, how he ended up in this new role, and what he hopes to accomplish with The EXCHANGE.  

Jen, we miss you. Justin, your job is to build on her success while making the place your own.