Get Me Some Iron Man

So unless you have been living in a cave, you probably saw the Robert Downey Jr., story where he appeared in character as Tony Stark and presented a young boy with a prosthetic arm created by some UCF engineering students. If you haven’t seen the story, click here.

With the semi-finals of the Joust, our business plan competition, fast approaching (It is this Friday), it occurred to me that Tony Stark would make a great judge for the Joust finals. He is a man who likes to live outside his comfort zone. He is an inventor, risk-taker and data-driven decision-maker. Okay, he needs to work on that whole “collaborate with others” thing, but face it: he’s got four of the five things we would want to see in a UCF entrepreneur. He should have graduated from UCF.

While Tony is here, he could tour the Launch Pad, invest in a few student ventures, see how we are bending the culture at UCF and become an ambassador for all we are doing. I’m not sure that our Joust can match the showmanship in a Tony Stark product launch, but if you give Tiffany a two-week head start, I like our chances of producing something that would meet his expectations. Who knows: the Joust might even serve as the backdrop for a scene in his next movie.

So people, let’s mobilize to get me some Iron Man for the Joust finals. Maybe Toby Crabel knows him and could extend an invite? Maybe a social media campaign with a clever hashtag? (#UCFNeedsIronMan.)   Maybe Grant Heston knows his publicist? We got 50,000 alums, surely someone’s got a connection we can use to get him to the Joust. Doesn’t Disney own Marvel Comics? George can you help us out?

This is the best idea I have had in a while. Besides, it’s the only way I am going to get my wife to this event (she inspired the title to this post) and I’m guessing it will give our efforts to promote entrepreneurship among women on campus a boost as well.

No, I’m not kidding….let’s make this happen.

Hey Career Coaches….

Back in the day, it was common for people to include photos either on or with their resumes.  Some companies required it.  Then came concerns about discrimination: The photos disclose race, gender and to a large extent age.  Add in research which suggests that there is a bias toward attractive people in job selection, and the practice of including a photo with a job application came to a halt.   Yet today, everyone puts their mug on LinkedIn (not to mention Facebook) and see the site as a critical part of their job search and career management strategy.  Should our students photo or not? 

Stop Endorsing Me!

Thanks to our professional development courses, my LinkedIn network has been growing by leaps and bounds.  So long as you are a #UCFBusiness student and have a well-designed profile complete with a photo, I will accept your invitation to join your emerging professional network.  It’s the least I can do for young Knights trying to project the right professional image from the get-go.

But in a growing number of instances, this is followed by an endorsement for some skill I allegedly possess: public speaking, education or leadership to name a few.  While flattering as these might be, I get an equal number of endorsements for things like “PowerPoint”.  Given my well-known dislike for PowerPoint presentations (I think it is the single worst thing ever to come to higher education), such an endorsement signals  people who know me that the endorser does not: Endorsing me for PowerPoint is a bit like endorsing Lonny for “subtle influence tactics”.  

Perhaps I’m just “old school”, but if I’m impressed by something you did, I will write you a note or a letter of recommendation (e.g., when you win the failure competition).  If you see me do something that catches your attention, drop me an email or better yet, stop me in the hall of BA I or II and tell me what you think. It will give us the chance to get to know each other better so we can skip things like PowerPoint endorsements.

Hall of Fame 2015

Our 2015 College of Business Administration took place last Thursday night.  Almost 700 people were in attendance.  For those of you who missed the event, my comments before the gathering are provided below:

Good Evening Everyone.

I want to take a few minutes tonight to explain why we have a Delorean in the back of the room.

When Kelly or Tara and I are on the road meeting with alums, especially FTUers, the conversation invariably turns to a discussion of how accessible the faculty were to students and how their personal interactions with a professor left a lasting impression. We hear many stories about how Marilynn Hunt molded young minds to think like an accountant. How Bill Callarman opened his home and shared his wisdom. And how Ken White taught people who feared numbers the beauty of statistics. Perhaps the most touching moment I have had at UCF was when Hall of Fame member, former head of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and current Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard said this about Dr. White during a lecture sponsored by another Hall of Fame member Andy Titen and his wife Gail: “It is a great thrill to have Dr. White in the audience for my talk today. He made economics come alive for me and I owe much of what I have become to the help he gave me here at UCF many years ago. Thank you.”

Marilynn couldn’t join us this evening, but both Dr. White and Dr.Callarman are here tonight. I ask that they stand and be recognized.

Comments like this from alumni do not surprise me. If you ask any faculty member: “Whose student are you?“, they identify a professor or two who encouraged them, gave them a different perspective on the world, taught them how to ask good questions and instilled in them the qualities to succeed in life as well as their careers. And it is the goal of every faculty member I know to create this relationship with their students—to have disciples who have learned from the power of their insights, leave UCF changed for the better and go to into the world to put those ideas into action.

To give you a sense of how we are accomplishing this today, I asked some of our current students, this very same question: “Whose student are you?” I want to share some of their answers with you tonight.

Let me introduce you to Dr. Carolyn Massiah and her student Dwayne Houston. Among Dwayne’s many honors, he is on the president leadership council and is headed for a career at Proctor and Gamble. When he talks about being Dr. Massiah’s student he says this:

            “Over the past 2 years Dr. Massiah has fed into my life academically, professionally, and personally. Having the opportunity to do research with Dr. Massiah taught me how to think outside of the box by turning data into innovation. That lesson laid the foundation for me to succeed in my professional endeavors at JC Penney and Proctor & Gamble. Professionally, Dr. Massiah has helped prepare me for the future, walking me through how to successfully obtain my MBA and corporate success. She has polished me as a student while always making sure I met the right people at the right time.

It’s not often that you meet a person who genuinely has your best interest at heart, but Dr. Massiah is that person for me. Not only is she my mentor, she is a friend and role model. In the moments where I felt overwhelmed, her graceful words would calm me. In my moments of joy, she would smile and rejoice with me. Her actions have taught me how to greet life with a smile while facing my fears with a courageous heart. Her uplifting interactions with other students taught me how to sincerely care for others. I truly believe that I am a better person because of my time spent with Dr. Massiah and I am thankful for our relationship.”

I can tell you that Dwayne’s words capture the very essence of Carolyn and demonstrate that he truly is her student. I had the humbling experience a year ago to watch a video of Dr. Massiah give a lecture just before she underwent chemo treatments. She taught her 1600 students a lot that day. We are so lucky to have her. Thank you Dwayne and Carolyn for being here tonight.

Where are Dr. Steve Sutton and his student Irina Malaescu? Irina is about to become one of us. She is a Ph.D. Student in the Dixon School. She writes about her mentor, Dr. Sutton:

“One of the pivotal moments in my life and my career happened 5 years ago, when I was first introduced to Dr. Steve Sutton at the Accounting Information Systems conference in Tampa. Meeting him was intimidating – I was just a Masters student and he was one of the most renowned figures in Accounting Information Systems… The following year, I was admitted into the PhD program at UCF and he agreed to be my mentor, my supporter, and my role model.

Steve has taught me to look at the broader picture when starting a research project and has encouraged me to establish my own writing style. He has spent endless hours reading research papers and providing excellent suggestions for improvement. At the same he has empowered me to be in control of the final product and, ultimately, to walk along my own individual pathway.

During my first presentation in the doctoral program, I was a nervous wreck: tired, stressed and, extremely insecure. Steve spent countless hours coaching me and building up my confidence to teach me how to deliver an effective presentation of my research in an academic setting. Since then, I have stepped in front of more than a dozen national and international audiences presenting my own research and discussing that of others.

Dr. Sutton is kind and thoughtful, seeing potential where others see failure. He has been my cheerleader in my darkest hours, never giving up on me and always maintaining his confidence in my abilities to succeed. As a future assistant professor, I have learnt many skills from Steve that will guide me on how to be a generous mentor and colleague. It is an honor to have Dr. Steve Sutton as my academic mentor and I can only strive to be worthy of the investment that he has made in me.”

From what I hear, you will make Steve proud Irina, just like he makes all of us proud here at UCF. Thanks to both of you for joining us this evening.

Mateo Rosales tells a similar story about his mentor, Dr. Melissa Frye. Where are they seated in the audience? Mateo writes:

“Rarely do you find a professor that has such a large impact on a person’s life. For me, Dr. Frye epitomizes everything a mentor is, and more. Early on, she helped me gain perspective on the corporate finance field through her class and life experiences. I really got to know Dr. Frye during test week, when I stopped by her office. I found how easy it was to relate to her and talk to her about my future goals. From then on I knew that Dr. Frye was more than a professor, but a mentor as well. I could go to her for anything I need, let that be advice, career guidance, or just a person to talk to. The mentorship didn’t stop when I finished her class. When I was presented with different job opportunities and no true guidance on where to go, I emailed her asking for help with a cover letter. Little did I know that meeting with her pushed me to not only apply to that one opportunity, but a few more that I had wrote off because I didn’t think I was qualified for those positions. Dr. Frye pushed me to reach my potential by telling me the way to succeed is to take risk and go outside of my comfort zone. As my time at UCF comes to an end, I will always remember Dr. Frye as a professor that pushed me to reach my high goals, to persevere to be my best and not let small things come in the way of my progress. I can’t be thankful enough for her help and guidance.”

To all the students in the room: It is shocking what happens when you show up for office hours with something other than a question about what will be on the exam. When you have the chance sit down with someone like Dr. Frye and pick her brain for free, you take that opportunity. You never know where the conversation will lead. Good luck on your new job Mateo, I know Dr. Frye has given you the skills and confidence to compete with anyone. Thank you both for joining us tonight.

Knowing what it takes to compete, is also at the heart of a story told by Alia Staples, the student of Dr. Sam Dahger. Alia, couldn’t be with us tonight. She is too busy running her business in Northern Virginia, but she took the time to write about Professor Dagher. Sam, is seated with his colleagues in the Department of Management. Sam? Alia writes….

“I had the honor of being a student of Dr. Dagher’s during the last two semesters of my MBA program at UCF. By this point of the program, I had a clear vision of a business I wanted to open after I was done with my MBA. I had become disenchanted with corporate America and wanted to open my own Pilates studio. I got the training, I was teaching Pilates full time, and my passion for the industry was there. But my business plan needed polishing and I wanted some guidance from a seasoned professional. I was lucky enough to take Dr. Dagher’s Capstone and Leadership courses. Both were invaluable in teaching me how to analyze external and internal factors that contribute to a business’ success, and leadership skills that are critical to managing a small business.

On several occasions, I made appointments to meet with Dr. Dagher in his office to share my business plan with him and receive his feedback and ideas. I found him thoughtful and thorough in his suggestions for improvement. I was thankful that he took time out of his schedule to review and discuss a personal pursuit of mine and will always be thankful for his perspective. His mentorship allowed me to feel more confident to start executing my plan, search for a commercial space to call my own, and make my dream become a reality.

Exactly one year after I graduated from UCF, I opened the doors of The Pilates Loft in Arlington, Virginia. It is the second location of an existing studio brand that originated in Orlando, Florida. We have been open for one month, the studio is full of clients, and every projection set in my business plan is being met or exceeded. I have no doubt that my UCF MBA and Dr. Dagher’s contributions to my education are a huge part of this success. GO KNIGHTS!”

Well done Sam. It’s always nice to be a part of helping someone realize their dream.

And finally in the spirit of Dr. White and his student Glenn Hubbard, we have Dr. Richard Hofler and his student Brach Champion. Where are they? Brach writes……

“Dr. Hofler has been a huge influence in my life personally, professionally, and academically. He first sparked an interest in my chosen field, econometrics, when I took his class on the same subject. Dr. Hofler’s passion for econometrics was evident from the first day, and it impacted my thinking greatly. When I began to get involved in undergraduate research, he was the first person I thought of as a potential mentor. His answer was a resounding yes and from there his influence in my life increased exponentially.

Since working with Dr. Hofler, I have decided to pursue a doctorate degree in economics, and a career in econometrics. Without his influence I would not have known the importance of a Ph.D. or the possibility of making a successful career in econometrics. Having Dr. Hofler as a mentor has exposed me to the exciting world of academic research and the opportunities within it. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without Dr. Hofler’s influence in my life.”    

I have returned to where I started with my stories: Much has changed in the time between when Dr. White inspired a young Glenn and Dr. Hoefler lit a fire under his student Brach: Computers, the internet, distance learning, and smart phones to name just a few. Yet even in this age where information is free, faculty remain the most important part of the education process after the students themselves. And this is why President Hitt’s goal of adding 100 new faculty to UCF each year for three years is so important. Each of these new faculty will create hundreds of opportunities for students to have those one-on-one conversations that will give them a different perspective, challenge them to get out of their comfort zone, and differentiate them in the world. This is how we make a very large school small, provide more of the same opportunities those FTUers had, and in the process, take UCF and the College of Business Back to the Future.

For those of you who don’t know, this is the 30th Anniversary of the movie: Back to the Future. When Marty goes forward in time, he goes to 2015. Marty had a person who had a huge impact on his life …Doc and used the lessons he learned from Doc to change the course of his life and redefine his future.   And so we have a Delorean in the back of the room tonight as a symbol of our effort to build a culture of engagement where every student has the opportunity to find their Doc and carry their professor’s insights with them as they create their future.

As alums and friends of the College, I invite all of you to take the time to become a student’s Doc. Our Hall of Famers in attendance tonight have already accepted this challenge by agreeing to sit with a student who earned an invitation to this event by convincing me they had three good questions to ask one of our most accomplished alumni. Those conversations are well underway and you too can share your perspective with a student by becoming part of our mentor network or joining us for one of our alumni career panels. Just take out your smartphone, get on LInkedIN and join the group #UCFBUSINESS. (This is 2015 people, got to connect like our students do.) We will be in touch.

As the boss likes to say “we have come to that happy time in the program” where we recognize the accomplishments of our alums and induct three new members into the Hall of Fame. I look forward to hearing them tell us “whose student they are” as they provide us inspiration to continue our work to prepare students for the future that lies ahead.

Grant, I return the program to you…

A Failure Competition for All Squires

At our Hall of Fame event last February, we featured a video of Mayor Ken Bradley who is also CEO of Florida Hospital, Winter Park. The video starts out with Ken saying the following: “I came to UCF as a failure and left a success.” Ken had seen his dream to enter medical school dashed, but found his future at UCF. He has gone on to great things and now has doctors reporting to him! His achievements landed him in our Hall of Fame, a place where only 64 of our more than 50,000 alums have been recognized for their accomplishments.

Despite what helicopter parents think, everyone fails. It is part of life. A Knight should never fear failure. 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 sixth installment of our Failure Competition. As in past semesters, I will be explaining the details of this semester’s competition to students in our Capstone Course. But we are adding two new twists to the competition this semester:

First, your failure story has to focus on a new experience, a time you stepped out of your comfort zone: 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.

Second, in the past I have limited this competition to students in our capstone class, but this semester I am opening it to any student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

1. 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 pm on March 20.

2. Instructors from the Capstone Course will then choose a winner from their section and explain why they chose the essay they did. A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider from the rest of campus.

3. Those winning entries are then sent to me. I will select three or four finalists by March 27th at 5 pm.

4. The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. They must have those videos to me by Friday April 10th at 5 pm.

5. I will then feature one video each day on my blog the week of April 13th, with a vote taking place to determine the winner on Friday April 17th.

6. 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.

Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Einstein

Every year about this time, business school deans from all over the world meet in one place. Last year it was in San Francisco. This year it was in San Diego. Like last year, I took the opportunity to extend my time on the West Coast to include a number of days visiting with alums. I laid out my reasons for doing these visits in a blog post about my trip last year. You can revisit that discussion by clicking here.

Being with 600 deans, all of whom have short attention spans and expect to get their own way, is a trying experience for the conference staff. To keep us all happy, they tend to schedule a provocative speaker or two to keep us talking among ourselves rather than pestering them. This year the speaker was MIT professor Andrew McAfee.

I am not going to be able to do his whole talk justice here, but Dr. McAfee studies artificial intelligence (AI) and what it is likely to do to the workplace of tomorrow. His bottom line is that AI is advancing rapidly and that things that only humans could do like pattern recognition and learning through trial and error are now well within the computer’s grasp. Things that were reserved for humans like driving a car or learning to master a strategy game like “Go” are now things computers can do. And like computational tasks, computers can do them much quicker and soon far more cheaply than humans. Dr. McAfee thinks lots and lots of jobs will be made obsolete in the coming couple of decades as AI evolves…. Certainly within the professional life-span of current UCF students.

If that’s not scary enough, realize that most of the UCF alums I met on the West Coast are involved in the nascent stage of big data: attempts to recognize patterns in large sets of data that can be used to understand us (and our buying needs and habits) better than we understand ourselves. Today humans are looking for those patterns, but if big data can be combined with AI and its prowess at pattern recognition, one wonders if the arrival of Skynet (or Chappie) can be that far behind. Dr. McAfee went so far as to suggest that just a few “stars” — people of exceptional talent, will command most of the world’s productive resources. He wasn’t really sure what the rest of us will be doing.

Now before you freak, I would note that disruptive changes on the scale contemplated by Dr. McAfee (a change he likens to the Industrial Revolution) tend to go down unpredictable paths. While many jobs will die in the process, other new ones often rise to take their place. But those new jobs are likely to have a very different character than the ones destroyed–focusing on hypotheses generation, creativity and team work rather than the things AI will do better than humans.

Which brings me to Albert Einstein who once famously said: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” As usual, Albert was ahead of the curve. I openly wondered via Twitter during the conference if we in higher education are up to the challenge……..

https://twitter.com/pauljarley/status/564943894131900416

Cluster Hires and Meaningful Buys

After several years of tough state budgets, the University is hiring faculty again. If you come to our Hall of Fame on February 26th, you will learn why I think this is such a big deal. But this post focuses on how we are making those hires and how faculty wanting my support for a cluster hire proposal can strengthen their case.

What is a cluster hire you ask? Well at one level, universities like UCF have always hired with respect to clusters. We call these clusters departments: They are organized around a field of study that has developed a distinct way of looking at the world (e.g., economics, psychology, sociology) or a particular process or set of activities (e.g., chemistry, criminal justice, finance, or marketing). But clusters in university-speak have come to mean organizing around a particular problem (e.g., cancer, clean water, cyber security, poverty) or opportunity (nano-technology, entrepreneurship) rather than as traditional departments do. Topics like poverty or entrepreneurship, so the argument goes, don’t always fit into neat departmental boundaries and that progress is best served by bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to work on them.

Universities don’t administrate their way to research greatness, so a cluster approach best starts with proposals from faculty looking to do something great. They are, after all, the ones who do the research. The problem is most faculty are not accustom to doing research as part of a large multi-disciplinary team. Professors are fiercely independent people accustom to working alone or with a like-minded colleague or two. Ask them what they need to extend their research, they typically ask for more money first and a buddy who thinks just like them second. If they are told new colleagues should be part of a cluster, they round up some acquaintances in other departments and propose clusters with a vengeance that ask for funds to hire more people who think like them. In these proposals each participating department gets a new buddy.

In the sweepstakes for new resources, nobody likes to be left behind. Suffice it to say that I am buried in clusters. I am only a cog in this process. The big decisions will be made at higher levels and they have their own guidelines for proposals. But, I can’t support all of the ones I am seeing, so I’ve developed three questions to ask colleagues soliciting my support:

1. What are the expected short to midterm outcomes that I can expect from this effort? Is it increased research funding of an expected amount? Improvements in publication rankings in an important area? The development of a novel graduate program? The solving of a specific problem in five years? In short, what tangible outcomes should I expect?

2. What will these new hires allow us to do that we cannot achieve with the resources we already have in place? I have seen proposals that identify as many as twenty people on campus with an interest in a particular cluster. My first reaction to that proposal was: Wow, why can’t we get this done with the resources we have? What’s missing from this group? Seems unlikely that it is more of the same people that we already have. So tell me exactly how these new people are going to contribute to the effort. If all they do is contribute to disciplinary strength, I don’t need a cluster hire. If they are radical departures from the people we have, how do they fit in to both the cluster and their proposed home.

3. How is this a meaningful buy? This is an issue of the magnitude of the ask relative to the size of the task. For example, if you asked me for $1 million in hires across departments in an effort to raise our MBA program into the top 50 among US schools, I would reject your request. That in my mind is a five to ten million dollar challenge. One million wouldn’t put much of a dent in that goal. It wouldn’t meaningfully help in the fight to cure all cancers either. I would be better putting that one million elsewhere. So, give me some hard reasons why we can get this done.

Hope this framework helps. I wish you all happy and productive clustering.

Earn A Seat At The Table

The Ambassadors tell me that students don’t know anything about our Hall of Fame. Apparently all those photos in BA 2 don’t capture the imagination of people studying for an exam or waiting to see someone in the Office of Professional Development. That’s a shame: One of the primary purposes of the Hall of Fame is to show students what is possible and inspire them to “get to the one.” So, we’ve cooked up a way to give some engaging students a chance to get out of their comfort zones, earn a seat at the table and have a conversation with a Hall of Fame member.

A look at the numbers gives you a sense of the opportunity. The college has more than 50,000 alumni. Just 65 are in the Hall of Fame. It is a very exclusive club. One of the best aspects of my job is that I get to interact with this highly accomplished group on a regular basis. These are people who have had a wide variety of experiences and have gained unusual perspectives on all sorts of things. I learn something new every time I talk to one of them and because most Knights weren’t born into a life of privilege, they tend to remember where they came from and remain approachable. The key to engaging them is to come with good questions. Having a few good questions shows that you are both prepared and interesting–prerequisites for accomplished people to give you some of their valuable time.

So on February 26th at Rosen Shingle Creek, most of our Hall of Fame members will be in attendance as we induct three more alums into their ranks. Information on the evening can be found by clicking here. As a current student, you can be part of this event by coming up with three great questions you would ask one of those 65 alums at the event. You can view the detailed rules for the contest on our website, but the bottom line is: Impress us with your questions.

Hints: (1) Google a few Hall of Famers. (2) Questions like: “How did you become so successful?” “What advice do you have for people just starting out?” Or “what would you do over again?”….. make me yawn: they don’t require any homework and don’t give me any reason to believe you are interesting. On second thought, these questions annoy me. (3) Questions like: “Mr. Horton, what was the most positive thing you took away from your Enron experience that shaped how you lead today?” (Sorry, Stan can’t attend this year) or “What is going to be the next big thing in your industry and how is that going to impact people pursuing a career in your industry?”…. are much better questions, but these are just examples. The more original you are, the better.

We expect 30 to 35 Hall of Fame attendees that night. We won’t match them with more than one deserving student each, but that means there could be as many as 35 winners. If you do win, we are going to want to know what you learned by having that seat at the table. So, listen carefully.

Good luck. The Hall of Fame is a very fun event. 600 people will be there. Even Lonny attends. A group of engaging students asking questions will make the night even better.

#FixUCFBusiness

On Tuesday, a student couldn’t find a seat in her Finance 3504 course. Facing the prospect of sitting on the floor for almost three hours, she emailed Dr. Hitt to request more chairs. She wasn’t sure who else to contact. Dr. Hitt forwarded the email to Provost Whittaker, who seeing it was a finance class, sent it on to me. I sent it on to Dr. Ellis who determined that the classroom wasn’t in the College of Business, it was in the Harris Building. I then sent a message on to the Dean of Engineering who forwarded it to the person in charge of such things in that building.   He confirmed that the room was indeed short of chairs and that it would be fixed. Provost Whittaker was informed and then requested that someone contact the student to tell her a fix was in progress. Dr. Ellis did so sometime on Wednesday. I let everyone know it had been done.

This chain of emails still makes me chuckle—that was a lot of high-priced talent engaged in ensuring rooms have the right number of chairs in them.  Legitimate request from student? Absolutely. Responsiveness from the very top of the organization? Certainly. Cost-effective method for dealing with these situations? Not even close.

As fate would have it, that Wednesday night I was scheduled to speak at an alumni event sponsored by #UCFBusiness and the College of Engineering. I thought this was perfect: A group of engineers and business people should be able to offer me a simple, cost effective solution to this problem. I told them my story and commented that we needed a solution consistent with how people communicate these days—a suggestion box simply wouldn’t do. The fix had to be something that employed state-of-the-art communication. I even wondered out loud whether we needed “an app for that”. Perhaps it was the setting. Perhaps it was the wine. Perhaps it was they were all consumed with “Deflate Gate”. Whatever the reason, they were no help at all. The students at my Thursday pizza lunch were no better—they showed little sympathy for the student sitting on the floor and yawned at my app suggestion.

So Saturday, I decided to look for an organic solution. I got on Hootsuite and starting searching for ways students vent about UCF using Twitter. There I found #UCFProblems. Most of the complaints involved traffic, parking and struggles with wifi. These are not things I control, but the idea of monitoring a hashtag that alerted us to things that need fixing in the college struck me as a pretty simple way to address issues like our student sitting on the floor. Adding “problems” to the end of #UCFBusiness seemed too long. So after exploring alternatives, I came up with #FixUCFBusiness.

So, if your chairs squeak or are broken, something in the room just doesn’t work or you got an idea about how to improve BA1 or BA2, let us know via Twitter by using #FixUCFBusiness. I can’t promise an immediate fix in all instances, but I do promise we will get back to you promptly about what we can or cannot do. Let’s give Dr. Hitt and Provost Whittaker more time to focus on improving our budget, getting us more faculty, strengthening our academic programs and transforming us into the next generation university.

How Do You Like Us Now?

On Friday we launched a new website meant to highlight our faculty’s research, engaging college culture and efforts to get students “to the one”. We also see this new site as our primary platform for informing stakeholders about our evolving portfolio of academic programs as well as our efforts to partner with the local business community.

So check out the site and let us know what you think by answering our poll and offering comments. Websites are always a work in progress and your feedback will help ensure that #UCFBUSINESS offers the best possible experience for those who visit the site.