A Thank You to Dr. Hitt

We learned this week that Dr. Hitt is retiring at the end of June.   A great deal has been said about his leadership and a great deal more will be said over the next several months as we celebrate the legacy of one of the most remarkable presidencies in higher education.  But I think  the best thing we can do for Dr. Hitt is to thank him.  So write him a note or add your thanks to mine by commenting on this post.  We will make sure he gets a copy of them all.

I want to thank Dr. Hitt for the unique institution he has created, the “can do” culture he has cultivated, the enormous number of lives he has changed, and the future he has provided to all of us who continue to work toward his vision and know UCF’s best days are yet to come.  The many years Dr. Hitt has devoted to UCF have been years well spent indeed.  So, thanks Dr. Hitt.  For our part, we promise to charge on!  

Opportunity Can Take You Places

My professional career has taken me from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Madison, Wisconsin, to Iowa City, Iowa, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Lexington, Kentucky, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orlando, Florida.  Sometimes I had to go in search of opportunity, sometimes opportunity took me along for the ride.  Either way, my address changed.

While roughly 70 percent of our alums stay in Florida, the other 30 percent travel far and wide. This week I’m in New York City and Washington, D.C., talking to alums about how they got to these cities and how we can get more of our students opportunities to live and work  there. UCF has almost 5,000 alums in NYC and more than 3,000 in the nation’s capitol. We have even established a Capital Markets Advisory Board in New York made up of highly placed alums who can help connect students with potential employers. We are hoping to create a similar board in D.C.

One of my biggest responsibilities as dean is ensuring we expand students’ horizons— that we help them see possibilities they didn’t know existed for them. Some of those possibilities are beyond Florida, like working on Wall Street or in the U.S. Treasury Department. To do this, we need to reduce the barriers people perceive to striking out in a new direction. Perhaps the biggest barrier is fear of the unknown. If you don’t know anyone in the town and fear getting lost in the crowd, you are much less likely to see a place as a viable choice for you.

The EXCHANGE, presented by FAIRWINDS Credit Union, is designed to give students a better picture of the careers that await them. Our initiative to build alumni networks in key cities is meant to help overcome fear of the unknown and ease the transition to new places when career aspirations take students beyond Florida. What I’m looking for this week, is a few alums who will act as guides for those Knights who are interested in joining them in a far off place. It’s how we all need to work together to extend the UCF brand and ensure our students have the opportunities that will take them places.

An Opportunity to Redefine Hospitality

My good friend Abe Pizam is retiring as Dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Abe is the college’s founding dean, has conducted research, lectured and served as a consultant in more than 30 countries and serves on the editorial boards of 20 academic journals. His big reputation is matched only by his big personality.  By any ranking you can find, Abe has built the Rosen College into a world-class operation. So, when the Provost asked me to chair the search to find the next dean of the school, I knew I had a big task in front of me.  It’s tough to find the right person to follow a legend who put his school on the map.

The good news is that Rosen is well positioned to lead the transformation of the hospitality industry.  With all due respect to Cornell University and Ithaca’s 300 hotel rooms, UCF sits in the heart of the hospitality industry.  Rosen has first class facilities, oodles of industry support and the best donor anyone could ask for: Harris Rosen.  It has amassed a faculty that meets Abe’s high academic standards and has a reputation for partnering with other units on campus to create innovative programming.  With advances in technology redefining many industries including hospitality, having an innovative, technologically-intensive university in the midst of one of the world’s great tourist cities offers the Rosen College tremendous opportunities to marry research advances with practice in ways that move the industry forward.

The search committee’s challenge going forward isn’t to find the next Abe Pizam (there is no other Abe Pizam), but rather a leader who can take the very unique assets of the Rosen College, Orlando and UCF and combine them into an educational experience that equips the next generation of hospitality leaders.  Reputation as the undisputed leader in hospitality education will follow.  If you think you might be up to that task, you can learn more about the position and how to apply by clicking here.

Should I Smile?

One of the best smiles at the College belongs to Professor Ze Wang.  She is a wonderfully warm optimist whose smile lights up a room.  But we’re a business school people, a smile isn’t an asset unless we can put some sort of value on it.  In a world where I frequently joke my faculty study what they don’t understand (e.g., I once had a faculty member who studied dual commitment; let’s just say he had trouble sticking with one relationship), Ze studies the value of her grin.  Does smiling make people think you are more competent or less?  Are people more or less likely to invest in your idea, if you smile?

If you think you have a winning smile, are considering developing one or think projecting grumpiness is the way to go, you might want to sign up for Ze’s talk at the Citrus Club Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. and learn about the value of your smile. Note that this is our first Dean’s Speaker Series to end your workday rather than begin it.  I’m not sure what Tiffany has planned to replace the bacon, but I’m sure it will be worth showing up at 4:30 p.m. to get a sample.

You can sign up for Ze’s talk here.