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.

Really Excellent Sheep

The title of this blog post comes from the most memorable line in a talk I came across last week from the Stanford Design School. It takes the view that we are forcing aspiring college students into a narrow definition of success and demanding that they undergo an increasingly more structured set of activities to experience college. Yet, our graduates will enter an increasingly ambiguous world that demands questioning of authority and convention in order to creatively solve modern-day challenges. In short, the fear is that we are training really excellent sheep.

The talk also touches on issues of physical setting and career planning and in many ways provides another way of looking at what we are trying to do in the college to create a culture of engagement, encourage risk-taking, and emphasize professional development and early career choice. It also provides support for our remodel of BA-1 so that our common spaces promote engagement and learning rather than hamper it.

There is a lot to chew on in the video. When you get twenty minutes, click here.

I would be interested to know what my readers (students, faculty, staff and alumni) think about it. As always, I welcome comments below….

A “New” Failure Competition

Next to Rob Folger, Taylor Ellis may read more widely than anyone else I know. Dr. Folger is going to finish the entire internet some day soon, but no one sends me more articles than Dr. Ellis.

Just before break, he sent me this one entitled: A Different Approach to Failure with a note that said: “Just saw this and thought of the failure competition. May be a modification of just failing?”

I was intrigued and after reading the short piece wrote: “Yea that is a really good point. So, we need to modify the contest to talk about when someone tried something “new”, failed and what they learned from that failed new experience. I think that would be a very helpful modification to the contest. What do you think?”

His response: “Agree completely, failure for trying something new and taking a risk is not bad. Failure for not trying or incompetence, teaches you nothing.”

Dang, I thought: I have failed at my own failure competition. How could I have missed that incredibly important point. hmm..

And that is how the Failure Competition 2.0 was born. Look for its official unveiling in a few weeks.