A Celebration of How Faculty Impact Students

Friday we had an investiture for Dr. John Solow, as we officially made him the Kenneth White and James Xander Professor of Economics. But the day was really a celebration of the importance of the student-faculty relationship.

The faculty in this case are Ken White and Jim Xander. They were here when this place was still FTU. Ken still teaches down at our executive development center.

The student was Dr. Glenn Hubbard. You may have heard of him. Glenn is on the faculty at Columbia University. He is the dean emeritus of the Columbia Business School, former chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors under George W Bush, and current Chairman of the Board of Met Life. He and his wife Constance Pond donated a million dollars to fund the professorship. Rather than name it after themselves, they named it after the two faculty who helped Dr. Hubbard start his career in economics. Glenn said it was a debt he had to repay.

John Solow, in accepting the honor of holding the professorship, reflected on the importance of teaching and named several faculty who helped him along the way, including his own father Robert.

It was an affirming day to be a professor, reminding all of us of the impact we have on our students. As I’ve written before, every student should be able to answer the question: Whose student are you? And, respond with the person(s) who helped show them what was possible, gave them new ways to see the world and shaped who they are today. Thanks to Glenn Hubbard and Constance Pond, many future UCF students will be able to answer that question with John Solow.

Changes in Mindsets

We had over fifty entries to our Failure Competition this semester. There were several good entries and I want to congratulate everyone who was willing to put their failure out there for everyone to see. In this way, the competition is an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone.

The three finalists emphasized another common theme of the competition: the need to change your mindset. Failure hurts. It makes you question who you really are. It’s a bit like being hit with a board between your eyes. People want to avoid this kind of pain. So they tend to do some soul searching in an effort to avoid that same outcome in the future. Many resolve to see the world differently and this leads to different behaviors that then lead to greater success. You will hear from our Failure Competition Finalists in an upcoming podcast I won’t steal their thunder here.

But if you are new to the college and struggling or just having a tough semester, you might want to examine your mindset and ask whether it is serving you well: Are you focused on what you want to be, or what you want to do? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth one ( google that)? Are you focused on grades or learning? Do you see your education as an expense ( to be minimized) or an investment (to be grown and yield a return)? Hint: the second choice in each question is the better one. Adopting them will result in you doing things differently and experiencing more success.

Street Smarts

Sometimes you need advice from people who have experienced what you are going through. Maybe you are struggling in a course, have doubts whether a major is right for you, or struggling to connect to the right people. You need to get some unfiltered advice and tips on how to get ahead in a new environment.

This is the basic idea behind Street Smarts. Street Smarts is a program run by our student ambassadors, people who have experienced the things you are experiencing. They can give you advice and perspective no one else can.

We do two different versions of street smarts. The first is at the beginning of the semester to help newbies get off to a good start. That said, not everyone figures it out the first time and plans change. So, we do a mid-semester street smarts to help students who are contemplating a new direction or face challenges they hadn’t anticipated. Other students come just to pick up a tip or two that they didn’t get the first time around. Round two happens this week. The Ambassadors would love to see you there.

Is Failure Really a Thing?

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the 15th installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

  • Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others. It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.
  • While the Failure Competition began with students in our Capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.
  • Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a Capstone student this semester, include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 p.m. on Monday Oct. 7th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It

A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider. I will then select three finalists by Oct. 11th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to participate in a podcast on Failure and whether it’s really a thing on Wednesday Oct. 16th. There you will be able to tell your story and participate in a discussion about the value of failure. Listeners will then be directed to a website where they can vote for the winner. Voting will close at 5 pm on Monday Oct. 21st.

The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck!

One Question

Hurricane Dorian disrupted Welcome To The Majors this fall and while we will present a scaled-down version of this event in a couple of weeks, I won’t get the opportunity to address all incoming students the way I usually do. To summarize, the key message I deliver at the event is this:

I graduate 2,000 students a year from the college of business. When you cross the stage in a couple of years to shake my hand, you need to have the answer to just one question: Why you rather than one of the other 1,999 students I will graduate this year?”

We call answering that question “Getting to the One.” It means you were the one selected to pursue the career you want. Every semester at graduation, many students tell me they got to the one when they shake my hand. I can hear the satisfaction in their voice when they tell me this because they know they did the things they needed to do while they were here to differentiate themselves and achieve their goals.

If you are new to the college, you need to know that we put a heavy premium on doing here. We want to get you out of your comfort zone, force you to take some risks, and instill in you a bias towards action. So form a plan now and get busy executing it. It’s the only way to answer the question we pose.

Dr. Jones

Associate Dean jobs are tough. You inherent problems other people can’t solve on their own. You have to tell people “no” more than you would like. You work to implement another person’s vision and no one comes by your office just to tell you what a great job you are doing. The job can get under your skin, the battles can leave scars and some of your colleagues can hold grudges if they think they were treated unfairly.

Friday, we celebrated Foard Jones’ thirty years at UCF, many of which were in the role of department chair, interim dean and associate dean. Funny stories were told, declarations of appreciation delivered and fondness for the kind man we all know filled the room. Foard was his usually low key self. He has a year of well-deserved administrative leave to prepare for whatever his next role at UCF will be. Tiffany and Sevil have him on speed dial. I told Foard to hide his phone, people need to learn how to survive in the wild alone.

Thank you Foard. You have been advisor, mental health counselor, friend and “all-in” from the moment I met you. I couldn’t have done it without you. Whatever you decide to do when you come back from leave, don’t forget that we expect you to wander in from time to time, lay some Carolina wisdom on us, and leave smiling knowing it’s really not your problem anymore.

Charge On, my friend.

Things Changed

Ironically, I wrote this blog post two years ago when another hurricane disrupted the Fall semester. In fact, this is the third fall in a row we have had a disruption. As we return to classes today, I thought the story was worth repeating. BTW, things always change, so learning to adapt is an incredibly important skill to develop…

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!

Why We Do Welcome to the Majors

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.

This is why we do 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” here. Up until this point, you 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 that 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, it 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. As I said in last week’s post: Fortune here favors the bold.

Welcome to the College of Business

Today is the first day of the fall semester. If you are new to the college, you are not alone.  We welcome more than 2000 new students to the College today along with several new faculty and staff.  You’ve probably heard that we are big: more than 8200 undergraduate students, about a 1000 graduate students and 225 faculty and staff. It can be hard to stand out in such a large crowd.  If you stand in the back of the room and wait to be discovered or provided the help you need, you guarantee disappointment and risk total failure. Fortune favors the bold here.  Don’t miss out on accessing the many resources we have to help you succeed.

But our scale does not define your experience in the College, the shared beliefs of our faculty and staff do.  We believe that no real learning occurs inside your comfort zone; that the most defining moments happen when you get to have a conversation with someone who has something interesting to say; and that a great education expands your horizons, helps you make good choices about how to spend your one precious life, and gives you the skills and confidence to know that you can compete with anyone anywhere.  We have created a culture and set of experiences that will demand that you engage with us in the pursuit of these objectives. These things are not negotiable.  If you are not willing to sign up  for this adventure, we are not the place for you.  Frankly your life here will be miserable.  If you are willing to go down this path, the journey will transform you.

For our undergraduate students, the journey starts immediately.  “Welcome to the Majors” is next Friday.   It is designed to introduce our newbies to the culture of the college and help them start to form a strategy for how to stand out from the crowd and “get to the one” (if you don’t know what that means you will).  Welcome to the Majors is complemented by “Street Smarts,” a workshop run by our student Ambassadors that gives new students tips on how to best succeed in the College, including how to succeed in our core courses.  The Ambassadors are part of the College’s leadership team and play an important role in shaping our culture.  They will be doing several “Street Smart” workshops each day for the first two weeks of the semester in The Exchange.

The Exchange is a place where we invite in community leaders who have interesting things to say to our students. Thanks to our friends at FAIRWINDS Credit Union,  we have a guest in the exchange almost every day.  Most days we have more than one Exchange. Many of our guests in The Exchange employ UCF interns and graduates. They are interested in identifying good talent while sharing their experiences and advice with young people like you.  At no other time in your life will you have so many potential employers coming to visit you.  Go early and often, but remember to reserve your seat before you go, there are only 120.

By October you will likely have had your first tests in your primary core classes and will need to start taking a hard look at where your interests intersect your skills and talents.  Many students come in to the College thinking they want to do something, only to change their mind mid-semester.  The Office of Professional Development can help you understand where you might best fit in.  Internships can also help. It’s why we do an Internship Invitational and Career Fest this month.  Look to get involved.

The goal of all this activity in your first seven weeks is to get you engaged outside of your comfort zone, to get you in the right major, plot an efficient course to graduation and have you develop an action plan for landing the job you want before you leave here.  Lonny, the Office Professional Development team, the Primary Core Faculty, the Student Ambassadors, and Jennifer Johnson who runs The Exchange are all here to help you make good choices as you start your time with us. And if you need some mid-course corrections, don’t worry we will have a follow-up to  “Street Smarts” ready  for you right after midterms.

Welcome to the UCF College of Business. Get your armor ready Knights. Charge On!

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.