Things Change

One of my favorite stories was told to me by John Thomas. John worked in our DeVos Sports Business Management program a few years ago. Before he came to work for us, he had spent some time working in the NBA central office for David Stern. John tells the story of how he worked months on a project for the commissioner. He put his heart and soul into the project, and when it came time to present his work, David Stern stopped him and said, “I’m sorry, John, but we’re not going to do it.” John looked incredulous and a little heart broken as he asked, “Why?” His boss said, “Because things change.”

Last week things changed for lots of people. This week as we return to school, some things will change, too. Some faculty will adjust their class requirements; some will change assignments and/or exam times. Not every faculty member will make the same adjustment. The changing circumstances didn’t impact every class in the same way.

Some students will, no doubt, have hoped for a different outcome just like John Thomas did. They will think it unfair, impractical or impossible. But honestly, there is only one thing to do when conditions change–change with them. Do the best you can to adapt and win under the new rules.

Charge on, Knights!


Honest Work

Like many of my students, I was the first person in my family to go to college. One of my grandfathers worked in an iron mine, the other in a foundry.  My father painted houses.  My mother kept the books for an oil delivery company.  For people who suffered through the Great Depression and World War II, they were happy to have honest work.  They did their jobs with enormous pride and a sense of accomplishment. Labor Day was a big day in my house.  Management my family joked, got the other 364.  (As Dean, I live by this.)

Sometimes I think that my industry goes out of its way to disparage honest work.  We don’t do it directly of course. We are far too civilized for that.  Instead we portray a college education as the gateway to a “better future,” earning the degree holder higher wages and fewer bouts of unemployment than people without the degree. Although it’s never really said, the inference is that honest work is inferior.  Life without college is by definition a lesser future.

I beg to differ. Honest work done with your hands and heart, isn’t inferior work, its different work. For some people, it’s the right work.  Even today, the U.S. has about 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 or more per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree.  People in certain vocational fields are also slightly more likely to be employed than college degree holders.  There is a lot of variance around all of these means mind you, but honest work isn’t dead and the people who hold these jobs aren’t lesser folks–they are my parents.  They put me where I am today.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am a big believer in the transformative power of higher education. I’ve seen it change many lives for the better and it’s what made me what I am today. But while we take a break from classes this Labor Day let’s not deceive ourselves into believing we hold the only key to people’s chance at a better future. In today’s world, it’s monopolists who are the dying breed, not honest work.



I’m Not the North Korean Leader

I often joke with the staff that when you walk into the building, you might think you’ve entered North Korea.  My picture  and the title of my most recent blog post is on every screen.  It’s a bit unnerving. I’m not that pretty and having my image everywhere can be seen by others as more than a bit egotistical.

So why do I do this?   I believe the best education occurs when you are brave enough to sit on a log next to someone different from you who has something interesting to say and have a conversation with them. The prospect of such an exchange should frighten you a bit and hold the potential to transform you.

We have spent the last five years building a culture of engagement in the college.  We are creating a place where no one is allowed to be invisible, unwilling to engage, or too afraid to get out of their comfort zone.    To lead such a culture, I have to walk the talk. I can’t be invisible, unwilling to engage in conversation, or be too afraid to get out of my comfort zone. I want every student to know who I am, what I want us to accomplish and understand why we do what we do in the College of Business.

So, if you catch me in the hall, say hello, introduce yourself and realize that you have only two minutes to engage me in a conversation that might be memorable for both of us. Make it a conversation about something you couldn’t have with anyone else in the College (e.g., career coach, faculty member, department chair or assistant dean). My photo and the title of my most recent blog is splashed on screens throughout the building as an invitation for you to do just that.  When you take me up my offer, you might find out that you’re not in North Korea at all.



It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things

And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re

Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water

Or stars in the sky

– Kermit the Frog

If you are new to the College, you might feel a little bit like Kermit.  Kermit believes he is made to blend in and fears his fate in life is to go unnoticed. When you get to a college as big as ours, you too might worry that it will be tough get attention, sparkle and get to where you hope to go.

The good news is that we have a whole host of things planned to help you overcome your fears and stand out in your very first semester with us.  Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Go to Welcome to the Majors on Friday:  Welcome to the Majors is the largest face-to-face class at UCF each semester.  You will get to meet a few thousand of your classmates and learn how you can use your time at UCF to create a unique you that will stand out from the crowd and get you the career you want.

2.   Make a New Friend:  While you are at Welcome to the Majors, make a new friend…  someone who is different from you and learn from them.  Part of college is about expanding your network.  Another part is discovering who you really are.  Neither of these things happen just hanging out with people who are the same as you (Kermit found Miss Piggy).  Besides you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. Maybe you should upgrade?  We have thousands to choose from.

3.  Meet Your Career Coach: You don’t have to come up with a success plan and execute it all on your own.  Your career coach can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, critique your plan and give you tips on how you can expand your portfolio while you are with us.  Our career coaches have worked as human resource professionals, so they know what employers are looking for in new job candidates.

4.  Go to Street Smarts:  No one knows better than other students how to stand out in the College.  Our Ambassadors have a one hour workshop that will give you the inside story about how to make it here.

5.  Join a Student Organization:  We have 11 registered student organizations in the College.  They can help you meet people, learn about careers and develop your leadership skills.

6.  Attend The Exchange:  We bring interesting people to you in The Exchange every day.  People who have interesting careers, can give you insights into the real world, and can help you get a good start after school.  No other college has anything quite like it.

7.  Go to Street Smarts Again:  We have a second version of Street Smarts after your first set of exams.  Some of you will learn you need to pivot and choose a new path. This happens all the time in the College. So the Ambassadors have a workshop designed to help you out.

8.  Ace your first Professional Development Course:  Nobody wants to explain to a prospective employer why they got a “C” in professional development.  It makes you look unfit for the world that lies ahead, because, well you are.

9.  Start Thinking About Landing that First Internship:  Internships tend to lead to jobs.  Sometimes they teach you that you don’t want to do something you thought you did.  Either outcome is good and it puts something on your resume you can talk about. Watch for workshops put on by the Office of Professional Development and learn what it takes to get invited to our Internship Invitational.  You want to be there.  We only invite companies who have real internships.

10.  Get to Know a Faculty Member:  They won’t bite.  Some are even pretty cool and you will need someone other than your parents to write that letter of recommendation for you when you decide to get a job or go on to graduate school.  They can only do that if they actually know you.

All this and classes too!  Lots to do.  Lots of opportunities to stand out.  So don’t stand back in the crowd blending in…. engage.


It is odd that in a profession where your relationships are your key asset that you often have to move on to move up. Development officers are a prime example of this. Much of what they do involves building trust with donors so they feel they are being heard and their vision will be realized. Good development officers are also hard to find. So when you get one, you tend to have trouble keeping them.

Friday we celebrated Tara’s time with us. She is moving on to a senior position just up the road at Stetson. Tara raised a lot of money for us. You can thank her for the atrium remodel in Business Administration Building 1, for one. In a team prone to showing its edge, Tara injected a sense of calm. She was also our peacemaker when we (read: me) made other people on campus nervous. LoL. If I needed to throttle back a bit, Tara was willing to deliver the message. Most of the time I listened. I only saw her nervous once, driving me the wrong way down a one-way street on our first trip to Atlanta.

So why is this post called Moneypenny?  A few years ago, the Hall Of Fame had a James Bond theme. Tara came dressed for the occasion and given her role (development) , the class she exudes and her ability to engage in witty banter, the nickname Moneypenny just kind of stuck. If the Foundation is smart, they’ll figure out that it’s the Moneypennies, not the Ms, that keep the operation from going rogue and they’ll hire her back…soon.  In the meantime, we’re sure going to miss her.

How to Create Opportunity

When you work at UCF, you go to a lot of graduations. Saturday I attended my 18th.  Add in my time at UNLV, Kentucky and LSU, and my guess is it’s more than 50. This is a long way of saying that I’ve heard my fair share of graduation speeches.

On Saturday, I thought Jason Brodeur hit it out of the park. It was funny, heartfelt, practical and insightful. It will come as no surprise that his comments about getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks and working with people who have well-considered views that are different than your own resonated with me. But what stood out was when he said: “To get the advancement you seek, you need to be good at what you are doing now. ” Yep, people don’t get opportunities because they want them. They get opportunities because they’ve earned them.

This just doesn’t apply at work; it pretty much applies everywhere. No matter what you want in life, your chances improve tremendously if you are awesome at what you do now. This includes school and your relationships, as well as your career.

Really enjoyed your speech, Jason. If you ever want to speak in The EXCHANGE, we’d love to have you tell our current students what you told our graduates. The earlier they get this advice, the better.

Plotting the Demise of Lecture Capture

Lecture capture isn’t what you think it is. Students think its a vehicle to allow them to watch lectures whenever they want, freeing them from the tyranny of the outdated, rigid classroom schedule. Faculty think it is a way to accommodate the needs of more students than the traditional classroom can meet. But lecture capture is really just a technology that allows everyone to act like they did before: faculty deliver lectures, students watch them and take tests about what they learned from these monologues. Lecture capture is a convenient enabler of the status quo. It challenges no one, not the faculty member or the student.  And that’s why it needs to die.

Once you realize what lecture capture is, you realize that creating something different doesn’t mean you should go back to small classes with faculty lecturing in front of students who dutifully attend 45 hours of class over 15 weeks.  Instead, you need a system that efficiently and effectively helps students master the basics while providing the room necessary for people to step outside their comfort zones and innovate in ways that promote student-faculty engagement and higher-order learning. You need an experience that demands something different out of everyone: the faculty as well as the students.  And, you need different kinds of technology in different kinds of physical space, with different kinds of class schedules to support that experience.

We have spent a fair bit of time over the past several months plotting the demise of lecture capture.  The new model will likely undergo significant revision over the next couple of years as we monitor its  progress and learn to tweak the system, but at its core is a combination of videos, adaptive learning technology and group exercises that facilitate the development of key competencies.  Faculty will become facilitators, not lecturers, and students will become active participants in their learning rather than passive consumers of content.  Students will be expected to show up five times rather than 30, and faculty will still be able to reach large numbers of students, just like with lecture capture. Three courses will use this new approach in the fall. If all goes according to plan, five more courses will debut with the new model in the spring of 2018 and five more in fall 2018. By spring 2019, all core and common course prerequisite courses will use the new model. Lecture capture will be gone. The college will be transformed and everyone will be more engaged in learning than ever before. Like many changes that seem scary and difficult at first, we’ll all look back in a few years and wonder why we didn’t end lecture capture sooner.


How to Manage Your Boss

Last Tuesday was Renee Giron Day in the College of Business. It was her last day. Renee was leaving us to enter the real world. We celebrated because she has been a big part of us for a while as an accounting student, ambassador, lead ambassador and TA for our professional development courses. She is tiny, witty, succinct, geeky and a little annoying. She also has a short attention span. This blog post needs to be brief or she won’t read it.

But most of all, Renee is the master at managing up. When you meet her, she quickly tells you her rules of engagement. She speaks in short sentences with few words meant to clarify those rules.  If you follow her rules, she always delivers for you. She gives advice when she thinks you are about to do something stupid, then obeys if her argument doesn’t carry the day (reserving the right to tell you, “I told you so” later). She has her boss’s back and knows how to talk him off a cliff when he’s stressed. The result is mutual respect and loyalty.

Well done, Renee. I wrote this down just in case you didn’t leave instructions for the new person. Feel free to add in a few tips. Charge On, woman, and improve your diet. All those hash browns can’t be good for you.


My reappointment as dean for another five years was announced last week.  The review process was very gratifying.  A lot of people said a lot of nice things.  I’m pleased that my team has done so much to nourish the soul of the College and improve the experience for our students, staff and faculty.  It’s also fun to work with so many smart, accomplished and dedicated people willing to take risks.

While the formal review process brought a lot of affirmation, the best sign of our success in my mind comes through exchanges like the one I had Saturday at the movie theater in Waterford Lakes.  As I approached the snack bar, the young man behind the counter looked up hesitantly and said: “You’re the dean of the College of Business aren’t you?”  I confirmed who I was and asked him about his major and whether he was taking classes this summer.  Turns out I was meeting  a management major enrolled in six credit hours during summer B.  As he returned with my drink he said:  “I want you to know I really enjoy The Exchange.  Thanks for creating it.”  I smiled and wished him luck with the rest of the semester.

I often joke that I’m the North Korean leader because my picture is everywhere in the College.  But I want students to recognize their dean and know what he thinks by reading my blog. I challenge students to not be invisible, so I can’t be invisible either. And, while my schedule doesn’t permit extended conversations with students,  it pleases me to no end to have helped build a culture where people are willing to approach me and chat for a minute in the hall, on campus, or at the movie theater.

Really happy to still be dean of the College of Business at UCF.  Now, back to work everyone.  There is a lot we still need to do.