A “To-Do” List for 2016

Maybe it’s because I have a goal-setting meeting with Dale this week, but rather than offering predictions for the new year, I’ve put together a “to do” list. And because it’s my nature to think in terms of fundamental change rather than incremental improvement, my list focuses on those activities and outcomes that I believe would be most transformative for the College and UCF generally. Checking off any two of these tasks in a given year would be success in my opinion. Achieving three, would come close to finding the holy grail.  In other words, most of the things on this list aren’t easy.

Naming the College with a $40 Million Gift: My best estimate is that it will take about $3 million more per year in recurring money to boost the College into the next tier of U.S. business schools. A naming gift would provide an endowment that would generate about half of those funds, allow us to attract and retain more world-class faculty and advance graduate education as well as provide us with the branding and external affirmation of our vision necessary to compete on a national basis.

Having Elon Musk Speak at our Fall Welcome to the Majors: I believe in the value of strong role models and few people exhibit risk-taking, the courage to fail, data-driven decision-making and collaboration with people from different backgrounds better than Elon Musk. Having thought-leaders know what’s going on at UCF doesn’t hurt either. If we can land him, we will invite our friends in Engineering to join us at the event. Who’s got a connection?

Instituting A Five Year Accounting Degree: Sitting for the CPA exam requires 150 credit hours in Florida and the demands of the profession require people who are both technical experts and students of the business. This type of holistic preparation is best achieved through an integrated approach that moves students seamlessly through to a Masters Degree and represents an obvious evolution in our program.

Having a Scalable High-Employment-Potential Business Plan Win the Joust: The Joust has matured to the point where it consistently draws viable business ideas, but it has yet to produce a scalable venture with large employment potential. Having such a winner will likely require greater coordination between business and STEM students, something necessary for the next evolution of entrepreneurship on campus. Having such a winner would energize campus and set a new standard for the role of the university in economic development.

Being Consistently Ranked in the Top 50 Public U.S. Business Schools by UT Dallas: The UT Dallas Rankings have become a significant benchmark for assessing thought-leadership among business school faculty. We have consistently hovered near the 50 public mark, but the size and composition of our faculty have made it difficult to sustain a presence on the list. Achieving this goal would result in greater attention among our peers and allow us to better compete for the best faculty. It would also be a ranking that few other colleges on campus could match.

A ReInvention of the Economics Department: Economics needs an identity and leadership role in the College. Maybe it’s around business analytics. Maybe it’s around financial economics or some other emerging business practice. The discipline is of such general importance that it can’t afford to remain siloed or focused exclusively on aspects of government policy as it is at some institutions. The College needs its perspective and rigor in helping us chart the future of business education and practice. The sooner we figure this out, the better for everyone involved.

Joining the Big 12: We immediately become a more visible university the day we join a power five conference. It will also give us a new set of peer and aspirant schools upon which to benchmark our academic performance.  My experience suggests that raising one sights almost always produces better results.

Getting 20 percent of Integrated Business Majors Internships: Our newest major won’t produce graduates for about two more years. So allowing a meaningful number of would-be employers the opportunity to observe our Integrated Business students in the making would help smooth the introduction of our new major to the marketplace and give our students a good chance to secure permanent employment before they graduate.

Finance and Marketing Cooperating on a CFP Program: Certified Financial Planners require an assortment of client relationship management and investment skills.  A careful combination of our professional sales and finance curriculum would provide a powerful signature experience for some of our best students.  Demand for such professionals is strong and I’m betting a few partnerships with local firms would give our graduates an advantage in the marketplace.

Developing a University Budget Model that Encourages Investment in R&D: At times universities seem to run like cash businesses: everything is focused on covering today’s activities and graduating today’s students. Little thought is given to investing in the institution’s own future. Our new budget model not only needs to consider funding today’s efforts but aligning resources to priorities in a way that allows the institution to continuously reinvent itself. This invariably means low value activities will have to be phased out to make the resources available to fund high-potential initiatives. This will be hard. Yet to refuse to do so is to stagnate and die.
Wow.  I’d better get busy.

7 thoughts on “A “To-Do” List for 2016

  1. In regards to your plan for Instituting A Five Year Accounting Degree, How would this cater to the students that are planning into going to private accounting instead of public accounting? Would this be a “one size fits all” approach? That would be really cool if Elon Musk spoke at the Welcome to the majors event. The Telsa brand is going places.

  2. Dean…pretty aggressive. My comments are more based on what I have seen in recent graduates coming into corporate finance. Simple stuff, but very important when it comes to an important skill set every business student MUST have. I am not sure to what extent students get training in Excel at UCF…i.e., spreadsheets and all the “magic” required on spreadsheets in just about any corporate finance office. Simply put, when students graduate, they should be “Jedi Knights” on Excel. Working for a Fortune 50 corporation, new employees that cannot do magic with Excel have a very tough climb in corporate finance. SAP or some other software program knowledge is one thing…the ability to download data and twist it around to the way the boss wants it or the way the Company reports data is a world just about every Company/corporation goes through….every single day of the year. Senior managers/executives don’t look nor do they like SAP reports…or any other standard-out of the box reports. More than likely, these reports have to be manipulated in some fashion so they look good AND tell the leadership a story on the financial health of the organization so they can make decisions. My suggestion…a Freshman level class for a semester on Excel…possibly couple it with FIN 101….is time well spent and will allow your graduating students be one step ahead of their competition.

  3. Great “to-do” list Dean Jarley. UCF really needs to boost recognition in the business department that has been overlooked by the other public institutions in the state. Our alumni give back the LEAST compared to other universities in Florida, there is a reason for that and I am sure you know those. Its time to integrate greatness in this department. Our STEM fields are up to par if not better at this point. It is time to focus on the COBA department! #Chargeon

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