Majors Week Spring 2022

Students enter the college as Juniors and many of them think they know what they want to be when they are ready to leave us. The problem is that a shockingly high number of students don’t know what they want to do.

Case in point: Many students will tell me they want to be a finance major because they want a job as a financial analyst. When I ask them what a financial analyst does, they tend to be at a loss for words. They also seem unaware that plenty of accounting and economics majors become financial analysts too.

Tuesday through Thursday is Majors Week in the College. Faculty from each of our majors will hold sessions on what their specialization requires and what most students do with their degree after they graduate. As my example shows, there are many more paths to doing than there are paths to being. So it’s worth going to more than one presentation to see what is out there. Another reason to do this is that students change majors all the time. So even if you think you know what you want to major in, it’s good to know what else is out there.

You can see the entire schedule for the week and sign up for sessions by going to Take control of your education now, so you make good choices and get to the one.

The Changing Landscape of College Football

Okay I’m still upset about the Michigan game, but the College Football Championship game is upon us. The transfer portal is changing the landscape of college football.

What about Name, Image and Likeness? Check out our latest podcast as you get ready for tonight’s game!


Thanksgiving sneaks up on you in Florida. Where I grew up, summer heat turns to fall chill sometime around mid-September. By Halloween you know the holidays are just around the corner. Here, Thanksgiving is part of a very long and gradual cool-down. Winter some years is just a Thursday.

At its core, Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It is about remembering the important people in your life, how they have helped you become who you are and thanking them for being part of your journey.  Turns out that expressing gratitude is good for you and according to my faculty can make you less of a jerk.

Yep, we study gratitude in the College of Business. More specifically, how keeping a gratitude journal can help change employee behavior for the better. Their recent research shows that just jotting down a few things daily about events and people for whom you are grateful can lower the likelihood you will be rude, gossipy or mean to coworkers.

“Gratitude exercises are becoming increasingly popular products to improve employee attitudes and well-being, and our study shows managers can also use them to foster more respectful behavior in their teams,” says Dr. Shannon Taylor.

Imagine what you can do with a whole day devoted to gratitude. This Thanksgiving week, tell people how grateful you are for the positive things in your life. It’s not just good for them, it’s good for you, too.

You can read more about our faculty’s work on gratitude by clicking here.

Ray Sturm

Professor Ray Sturm passed away on Friday night just before 9 pm, almost exactly a week after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the evening of November 5th around 8 pm. He never came out of the coma.

Ray was on the search committee that brought me to UCF. He was the coolest two-time grandfather I know. Ray could be seen in a T-shirt and jeans riding his skateboard on campus. He was a surfer, rock band member and faculty advisor to the investment club. Except for the hair, there were days I wanted to be just like him. He would have been a great member of the motorcycle gang I’ve always wanted to form. Ray was a teacher at heart, intellectually curious, and like all passionate people, hardheaded at times. Like a lot of us, he was a down-to earth Professor who believed in higher education’s promise of upward social mobility.

Life is precious and so short. We have buried too many colleagues and alums the last few years. Ray is yet another reminder that we should not waste a minute of it.

The Ultimate Homecoming Event?

We had graduation for the class of 2020 on Friday. It was a make-up graduation for students who didn’t get the opportunity to walk across the stage during the height of the pandemic. I’m told it is the first time since the 1990s that all the colleges came together for the ceremony. Since that time, we have become too big to have just one graduation per semester. Despite the rain, several hundred students walked across the stage. It was important enough for them to do so, that they came back on a Friday morning in November (it was homecoming weekend) to do it. It tells you something about the power of rituals.

It made me wonder if we should make this as an annual event. What would make homecoming more meaningful than to let graduates come back and walk across the stage again? We could announce when they graduated, their major and what they are doing now. It would be an opportunity for those who didn’t get the chance to attend their first graduation for whatever reason to claim the experience. For others, it might be a bit like renewing their vows, a chance to remember how important their education has been in their lives and who they are today. It just might make for the ultimate homecoming event. We could then march them all over to the reflecting pond for an alumni spirit splash and let them compete for a coveted duck. Hmm…. That might require the signing of liability waivers.

An Ending and A New Beginning

Rich has led by example for 20 years. I remember when he arrived in 2001: It put our college on the national and international stage as a place that builds innovative programs and cares about civil society. Professor Robin Roberts Pegasus Professor, Dixon School of Accounting.

The last couple of years have been calling Richard Lapchick. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the racial reckoning, Rich has decided to focus his life’s work on anti-racism issues. To do that, he is stepping down as the Director of the DeVos Graduate Program effective immediately.

Ron Piccolo, the chair of the Management department, has agreed to take on an interim role as Director of the program as we start a national search for a new leader. That search will start in earnest this spring. It is my goal to have this person in place by Fall 2022.

This will not be a search to replace Rich. There is no replacement for Richard Lapchick. In my many years in higher education, I have never met anyone like Rich. His many contacts in the sports industry, status as a social justice warrior, impact on the sports industry, and legacy in developing his students to be catalysts for social change through sports is unparalleled. His speech about the power of the huddle lingers in the ears of all who hear it. Heck, the dude has gotten an invite to speak from the Pope. Along the way, he has also done much to put UCF and the DeVos program on the map. The next director of DeVos will be charged with shaping the educational experience for the next generation of sports business executives, ensuring that they have the skills, perspective, and moral compass needed to navigate a quickly changing landscape both on and off the court, field, track, or pitch.

Rich is not going away.  Over the next 20 months, he will continue to be in his office, getting to know the DeVos students.  He will remain Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). TIDES will be the research component of his anti-racist work. He will also remain president of the Institute for Sports and Social Justice. 

Let me end this post, with Rich’s own words to the DeVos students last Friday:

This transition will mark both an ending and a new beginning where together we can continue to open horizons and make people understand that all of us -no matter what we look like, what we believe or where we come from, are cut from the same human cloth. 

Charge On Rich. We won’t forget what you taught us.

Five Tips for Succeeding in the College

Midterms bring more than just test scores, it is an opportunity for you to assess how you are doing at school and whether you need to fine tune, or even revamp your goals and strategies, for success. A couple of years ago, the ambassadors offered five tips for succeeding in the college. They are reproduced below.

  1. GET INVOLVED! This is the absolute best way to find people with common interests, to find your niche and to find your UCF family. There are hundreds of registered student organizations to join, including intramural sports, student government, fraternities, and sororities, and more. And if there is not a club or organization you are interested in, we encourage our students to create their own.
  2. BUILD YOUR NETWORK. In the business world, relationships and connections will play a big part in your career. Meet classmates to form study groups or collaborate on group projects to help you succeed in classes and add new friends to your circle. Interact with companies and alumni through The EXCHANGE, or as we call it, the heart of engagement at the college. At The EXCHANGE, a community leader, corporate partner or alum will host the conversation and you’ll have the opportunity to listen and ask questions.
  3. ARMOR UP and SETTLE IN. UCF is lively and fun place to be, and we want you to enjoy life on campus while practicing safety measures such as social distancing and wearing a face covering. We want you to always feel safe at home. We have created a many events and activities that allow you to connect with students, staff, faculty and employers. So dive in.
  4. SUIT UP and GET HIRED! Think about your professional development as soon as you become a business student. We have an entire office dedicated to this. The Office of Professional Development is the one-stop spot for all the tools to help you get an internship, job or promotion. From the Advising team (A-Team) to the Career Coaches, our staff will help with all your needs, such as resume reviews, mock interviews and professional advice.We also have our own internship and job board called Knightline, where you can search and apply for jobs. Events like The Invitational provide opportunities to connect with employers and learn about available internships and jobs. Both are exclusive to College of Business students.
  5. STRATEGIES for SUCCESS UCF Student in MaskLife as a student can get hectic, so start thinking of strategies to help you succeed in the classroom. Our ambassadors recommend reviewing your syllabus for course requirements, getting to know your professors and making a study calendar!
    After studying, make sure to make time to reward yourself for all your hard work. Find out what works best for you. Not every student learns or studies the same, so it might take some trial and error. Once you find what works best for you, stick with it and you will be successful.

If you want to learn more about how to succeed here, you can check out our guide by clicking here. It’s being updated as the realities of COVID and our response to it continues to evolve and we return to pre-pandemic operations, but it’s basic message and strategies to succeed in the college remain unchanged.

It’s time to finish the semester strong Knights. Charge On!

Hall of Fame 2022

I was with Jim Atchison at the UCF game on Saturday. He mentioned his son had snap a picture of his picture on the wall in BA2 where are Hall of Fame Inductees are on display. He asked if we were going to do the Hall of Fame this year. I responded yes. He smiled.

After a year off because of the Pandemic, we are planning to bring it back on February 17, 2022. The UCF College of Business Hall of Fame is the college’s signature event that honors our most distinguished alumni and partners. More than 750 College of Business alumni, faculty, students, corporate partners and friends of UCF attend the gala. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor given to business graduates. In 2021 our inductees include Woody Walker ’92 ’94MBA, executive vice president of strategic partnerships at CCG; Justin Wetherill ’06, CEO and co-founder of uBreakiFix; and Brian Wright ’06, general manager of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. The event made everyone smile.

If you have a worthy candidate for our Hall of Fame, you can fill out a nomination form by clicking here. Get it in soon because we hope to make our selections in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve had a whole extra year to plan this event. Expect it to be awesome. It always is.

The Value in Being Underestimated

See: Navy, Stanford, and Kentucky in this weekend’s college football results.

I spent most of the week in New York, Washington, D.C., and Annapolis. My primary goal was to promote our new Master’s in FinTech program and have some well-placed alums help us make connections that can benefit the program. All of those alums were underdogs when they got their start. They had to explain to their prospective employer why they should hire them rather than the typical candidate they hired from a prestigious Ivy League school. They then had to exceed expectations to rise in the ranks. In short, their grit, preparation, determination and confidence produced lofty results that defied their employers’ low expectations. They stood out.

I ended the week at the Navy-UCF game when a 16.5 point underdog staged a comeback win against a team with “superior” talent. Underestimating the United States Navy and Marines always seems like a bad idea. It was on Saturday. Something tells me that while we were celebrating our admission into the Big 12 and looking at the betting line, Navy was preparing for an opponent with a growing reputation who looked better on paper than they did.

As we continue to grow in both academic and athletic prominence, fewer people are going to underestimate us. They are going to see us coming. Witness UF’s sudden interest in FinTech. We cannot afford to lose that grit, preparation, determination and confidence that we had as underdogs, and let it turn into arrogance or complacency. Neither can you.

Gary Nichols

We lost a great colleague on August 31st when Gary Nichols passed away at 56.  Gary regularly taught the breakout sections in the Strategic Management Capstone course.  This is typically a business student’s final class before graduating from the college and involves competing in the Great Case Competition.  Gary, and a few of his colleagues like Chris Leo, loved to compete in this event. 

Gary with his students

To students and colleagues alike, he was known for his great storytelling ability, his love of bad jokes and his passion for teaching.

“Gary was a dedicated teacher who loved his students, teaching a boatload of them online over the past 18 months,” said Paul Jarley, Dean of UCF College of Business. “Gary also loved bad jokes. He and Professor Rob Folger seemed to have a running competition on whose jokes were worse. Rob’s jokes were clearly worse, but it never stopped Gary from trying. I never saw Gary without a smile on his face, even when he had reason to frown. He was a regular in the dean’s office before the pandemic, and the place won’t seem the same without him.”

A former store manager and corporate trainer for Publix, Nichols served as Mayor of Lake Placid, Fla., from 2002-2004. He held a Florida Real Estate Broker’s license and Instructor’s license. His areas of teaching included conflict resolution and negotiation, customer service, team building and leadership.

“Gary was a talented and versatile instructor, beloved by his students and colleagues,” said Ron Piccolo, Chair of the Department of Management. “He had a gift for engaging students, drawing them into discussion and bringing life to course content through his stories and personal experiences.”

Nichols frequently shared his experiences in the corporate world with the students in his classes and as the faculty advisor for the Colligate Entrepreneurs Organization, CEO Knights.

“He always had a smile on his face and a personality that lit up a room,” said Jacob Woolf, Integrated Business student and president of CEO Knights. “I know that his passing will have an impact across the entire College of Business and beyond.”

Nichols took pride in every community in which he lived and worked. At UCF, he served on the Regional Campuses Faculty Forum, Information Technology Resource Advisory Committee and as a member of the Office of Student Conduct Board. He also worked with UCF Continuing Education providing workshops and consulting for organizations such as Adventist Health Systems Florida Hospital, Orange County Clerk of Court, State Attorney’s Office District 09, and several others. He had served as an executive board member for the United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties and was on the board of his family’s business in Lake County.

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca, their four children and three grandchildren. A Celebration of Life will be held Monday, Sept. 27, from 1:30-3 p.m., at the UCF College of Business in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (Rm. 135 in BA-1) on main campus.

Gary was and shall always be a UCF Knight.  He would want us all to charge on.

A big thank you to Erika Hodges for putting together this story.