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.