Coming This Fall

I spent last Wednesday planning the next six months with my team. This is a biannual ritual. We plan July through December in June and January through June in December. These two sessions determine 85-90% of my schedule for the year. In between these meetings, we just do.

This fall is a key semester for us because it is the first time in my six years here that we expect to see every student in the building. Our two new collaboration halls are scheduled to come on line meaning that every student taking a college core or common program prerequisite course will be in the building at least five times during the semester. We will know what kinds of students are with us on any given day — pre-business, primary core, secondary core and what kinds of co-curricular activities they most need to succeed in the college. This will allow us to target specific services (e.g. advising, tutoring) and events (e.g. , Exchange talks, internship invitationals, mentoring opportunities) to students that will help round out their experience and engage them in inventing their future.

It also means that students will be expected to do things in these classes rather than just listen to lectures. The new rooms hold up to 200 students organized into groups of five to eight who will be charged with engaging problems and finding solutions.

So, students, when you come to class this fall, expect to find a very busy place with lots going on both inside and outside the classroom designed to help prepare you for life after college. To take full advantage of this, schedule some time to explore what’s going on in the building, get to know a few of your fellow students and engage in the kinds of activities that are going to get you to the one. The mindset that got you to the college – passively watching lectures and just showing up for exams to demonstrate what you know – won’t serve you well going forward. You will need to become much more active to succeed. Fortune favors the bold in the college. It will not be enough to show us you think. You will need to show us you can do every time you visit us.

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Stop Whining- Learn to win at failing

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen or whine when it knocks on your door, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the fourteenth  installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others. It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.

While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.

Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Friday July 6th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It.

A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider. I will select three finalists by July 9th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 pm on July 20th.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting July 23rd with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday July 27th.

The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck

The Next Big Thing?

A big part of my job is to think about what the college should look like five years and ten years from now and then get us there. To do that, I need to understand where business and society are heading and separate hype from fundamental change. Over the years I’ve learned that the marketing is usually way ahead of the reality, but being behind, well that’s really the killer.

I also know that college students tend to be early adopters… they typically embrace new ideas and products well before they become mainstream. Some of that hunger for “new” comes from youthful exuberance, but it also comes from an environment that emphasizes inventing the future and provides people the opportunity to connect the dots through dialogue with a very diverse community.

So I’m interested in hearing from my readers about what they think will be the next Big Thing– the idea, or invention that is most likely to change the world in the next decade. Ideally it would be something that will impact how we prepare our students for what lies ahead. But any new idea or invention that you think might influence your life and is worth my time exploring is what I’m looking for. Just leave your response as a comment on this blog post. Who knows, your suggestion might help shape the college over the next ten years.

There is No Downside to Civility

I make it a habit not to comment on current events or politics. But the Roseanne Barr story, like the Kathy Griffin story before it, got me thinking about the general rise in incivility in public discourse.  Social media is part of the cause.  It’s a lot easier to troll people than look them in the eye when you are saying nasty things. It’s also driven by the desire people have to get attention and build a brand in an increasingly competitive and crowded landscape.  Both Roseanne and Kathy are comedians who make a living out of provoking people.  But as these stories demonstrate, even in the business of provocation there are limits.

I mention this because I’ve perceived an increase in incivility among students in the College.  The vast majority of our students are very polite.  It’s one of the strengths of our culture and it’s one I want to preserve and strengthen because good business practice, perhaps unlike politics, is driven by civility.

This does not mean people can’t disagree.  People hold different views.  Sometimes they are passionate about their position and present it with conviction. To do so civilly and gracefully is a sign of strength and professionalism. It is also way more likely to get you the desired result.  In fact, universities were created to be safe places where people can do just that.  All voices must be heard in scholarly debate and peaceful social progress cannot be achieved without mutual respect.

Conversely, I have never seen a person persuade someone else by being rude or uncivil. It just increases the likelihood of a similar response. In extreme cases it leads to damaged reputations and lost opportunities. So whether it’s frustration over grades, academic progress, or not getting credit for a class because you showed up late, students might want to pause before they speak, email or tweet and ask themselves what their reaction says about them. I think they will find there is no downside to civility.