Fridays are busy days in the College of Business.  We don’t have many formal classes on Friday.  (For you old-timers, the MWF class has pretty much disappeared in favor of MW and TTH classes because you can get more done in two 90 minute classes than three 60 minute ones.)  The day tends to be reserved for faculty seminars, meetings, and events involving alums and/or the general public. As a result, it’s not uncommon for me and the external relations team to have multiple events on Friday, sometimes at the same time.  Case in point, a few Fridays ago I had the Internship Invitational and the Alumni Golf Tournament running at the same time.  This Friday, we have the Dean’s Awards, Dean’s Advisory Board Meeting and the Joust Finals all going on.

As you might imagine, with so much going on, some Fridays it is difficult for me to make an appearance at all our events. (It’s not that I always have important stuff to say, but an event is a more important event when the Dean shows up–that reality just comes with the title.)  So, the team in its infinite amount of creativity and humor has created #FlatDeanFridays.  Flat Dean made his first appearance at last Friday’s Ambassador meeting.  As you can see, he got less than a respectful reception. (Harsh, is in big trouble–he’s the guy giving me bunny ears in the photo.)

Flat Jarley

Since then, Tina has been fielding several requests for Flat Dean appearances.  I am unwilling to share Tina with Flat Dean.  She has enough to do just taking care of me and my needs. So, I have decided to put Jessica Greene Dourney (JGD) in charge of requests for Flat Dean appearances.  Understand that there are rules for Flat Dean people:

 1.  Flat Dean only appears on Fridays.

2.  Flat Dean is only available for official College, Department, or Student Organization events.

3.   Flat Dean cannot appear anywhere near carbs or  alcohol, nor can he drive the golf cart–Marjorie would have a fit.

4.  Flat Dean does not sign documents or do interviews.

5.  Control over any images of Flat Dean in action remains with JGD.

6.  Jim Gilkeson is barred from access to Flat Dean– its just too risky.

7.  Flat Dean does not appear with Provost Whittaker or President Hitt as they might come to prefer Flat Dean to me.

8.   Flat Dean must be returned immediately after the close of the event.

9.   Copies of Flat Dean are expressly prohibited.

All that said, I have to admit that Flat Dean is a useful addition to the team.  I’m going to be out of town for Spring Graduation.  My daughter Maggie is getting married that weekend.  Dr. Ellis will be filling in for me, but I’m also sending Flat Dean. It is a Friday and he will be available for TASTEFUL pictures with graduates in the Venue as students wait to enter the ceremony… could turn into a fun new tradition.

Failure Competition Finalists

So, we are down to four.  Normally, we just do three, but we thought four merited a run in the Finals.  So, Priyanka Chandra, Matthew Richardson, Wade Smith, and Dylan D’Orazio, you have until 5 pm on Wednesday April 19th at 5 pm to get me your video.  We will run them Monday-Thursday of the following week– one per day with a vote for the winner on April 27th.

Good Luck.


Changing Mindsets

Universities, especially business schools, were designed to help people secure professional employment.  They are good at giving people skills through classroom instruction and co-curricular activities that large- and medium-size employers demand and at facilitating students’ transition to employment.  Witness our just-completed Internship Invitational where we helped 450 students meet about 50 employers eager to employ interns and identify future talent.  It was by all accounts a smashing success.

But a growing number of students are interested in being in charge of their own destiny after college.  Rather than work for someone else, they want to color outside of the lines. They want to start something: a business, non-profit or even a movement.  Maybe it is because job security is a thing of the past. Maybe it’s because the internet has reduced barriers to entry. Maybe it’s because these students came of age during the great recession and they don’t want to go through what their parents did.

Whatever the reason, these students are looking for a different experience that prepares them for a different world. Our response has been the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Blackstone Launchpad and the Joust — our “Shark Tank-like” business plan competition that’s open to students all across campus.  The semifinals are this week and involve student entrepreneurs from all over the university—-business students represent fewer than half of the 16 semifinalists. You can see the companies by clicking here.

Many of the student ventures taking part in the Joust were developed with the help of the Launchpad, Eli Squared and the Starter Space to name just a few.  Much learning and coaching goes on in these spaces. One might argue that for our entrepreneurial students, these activities provide them with at least as much valuable learning as traditional classroom training. Yet these activities go unrecognized on student transcripts and underfunded by university business models that see credit hour production as the vehicle for charging students and allocating funds to colleges. As demand for these experiences grow, we are going to need a way to fund these very labor intensive activities or they will collapse under their own weight.

To do this, we must expand our perspective on what competencies people need to develop to succeed in today’s world, how best to acquire them and how best to define success in the educational process.  We also need to recognize that public universities (and state legislatures) are especially risk-averse institutions that find discomfort in bold experiments. They prefer incremental innovation that can be linked back to tried and true methods. For entrepreneurial activities, perhaps we have one… Universities recognize that Ph.D. preparation is different than the other educational activities we have on campus.  It is largely an apprenticeship, and we have created dissertation credit hours as a way to monetize the mentor experience that turns students into scholars. Perhaps a similar approach could be used to help finance the transformation of students into entrepreneurs. Instead of completing a dissertation,  the culminating milestone could be the creation of a company with a minimum threshold of revenue.

Whatever the mechanism, we need to figure this out. The world is changing.  The mindsets of our students are changing. To drive change, we need to change, too.