During the past three weeks I have been humbled to be part of several events that I will characterize as inspiring which I want to share with you. The Bauer College Alumni Association (BCAA) hosted their annual meeting at Cemo Hall on August 18, 2011. The 300+ participants honored Mike Cemo, whose generous contribution has made it possible for us to enjoy the facilities at Cemo Hall. We also heard from Erin Blatzer, who along with Lauren Davis, Carolina Thomas and Jeffrei Clifton formed the team that was recently named the #1 overall global champions of the 2011 Google Online Marketing Challenge. This team of all-women MBA students worked with Professor Steve Koch, and secured first place after competing against over 4,429 teams from over 68 countries, becoming the first-ever North American team (and the only all-female group) to take No. 1 in the competition’s history. Interestingly, the team’s choice of the type of firm they wanted to promote through their ad campaign was a non-profit and a local one, the Houston Symphony, and this to me makes this recognition truly inspiring. Read more at http://bauerticker.uh.edu/recognition/behind-the-global-win/.
On August 21, Abdul Kalam, who served as India’s president from 2002-2007 visited Houston. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at India House and at the luncheon hosted on August 22, by Chancellor Renu Khator at the University of Houston. What can I give? this captures the message of President Kalam as he spends his time and energy inspiring folks all over the world to connect to solve the problems of poverty and illiteracy. More information at www.abdulkalam.com.
On Thursday, September 1, I met Cathy Tran, who is a student at the Bauer College working on her undergraduate degree in accounting. Cathy will complete her degree in two years and then take one more year to work on her Master of Science in Accountancy at Bauer. While Cathy did come here as a transfer, she transferred only one of her courses, essentially having to start from scratch despite her ‘transfer’ status. She has one more year left within her two-year degree plan and despite an aggressive timeline, she currently has a GPA of 4.0. Admirable as this record is, what was inspiring to me was Cathy’s goal of ultimately using her knowledge to help her father and sister and give back to charity. When Cathy left my office I smiled knowing that the solution to our problems lies in grooming and helping others like Cathy.
Associate Dean Frank Kelley and I took time last week to meet Cathy Tran, one of many Bauer students who truly inspire me.
On Sunday, September 4, watching Meet the Press on NBC, I was inspired by the story of Joseph Kearns Goodwin, a Harvard graduate, who, on September 12, 2001, gave up a lucrative job offer to enlist in the army. As he described,
Looking at my life, I realized that I had been afforded basically every advantage that a free and prosperous society such as ours can yield. It seemed only fair, right and just that I spend some time giving something back to the great country that had given me so much.
What inspires you? Let me know.
August 7, 2011 was a sad day in the history of the Bauer College. Arthur Warga, who served as dean of the college for almost ten years from 2001 to 2011, passed away after a valiant battle with cancer.
In many ways, Arthur could very well have said what Winston Churchill said –
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
Arthur Warga made history and he certainly wrote an important part of the history of the Bauer College. Whether it was building nationally ranked programs, or attracting the best researchers, whether it was investing in student services, or growing the Bauer Honors program, he was, as I often reminded him, easily satisfied with the very best.
I was privileged to have worked with him as a colleague, a co-author, a boss, a mentor, and in many ways he was like an older sibling I never had. Arthur taught us to dream and dare, to dream bold dreams and to dare big challenges and to accept nothing but the best.
Those of us that knew him well knew that to Arthur it was never about him or about individuals, rather it was about the institution, fancy titles fade away and what really matters is learning, who really matter are students. If we can allow this thought to inform our actions going forward, then I know we will honor Arthur Warga’s legacy and everything he lived for.
Arthur loved celebrating our students at commencement. Here, we are gathered with Associate Dean Bob Casey, left, before the ceremony began.
With the final steel beam in place, the University of Houston and Bauer College celebrated the Topping Off Ceremony for University Classroom & Business Building on July 14.
It is referred to as the ‘topping out’ ceremony. The big beam that goes on top of the building is signed by workers and everyone else present and raised to the top. The Classroom and Business Building (CBB) which is being built next to Cemo Hall was ‘topped out’ on Thursday, July 14, 2011. It was a historic moment in many ways. Enrollment growth at the Bauer College and an almost desperate need for more classrooms, meeting rooms for students and student organizations and faculty offices had built a strong case for a new building. It had been a heated discussion topic for years, had been vetted by two rounds of administrators and was finally turning into a reality.
Construction had proceeded at a brisk pace, and we cannot thank the workers enough for toiling through the 100 degree Houston heat. They are building not just a physical structure but a legacy that we hope will last for 50 years at least. That led me to think about what lies ahead for higher education in general and business schools in particular.
What will the learning environment look like in 50 years? Will technology rule the day, making physical meeting spaces extinct? Will students participate in a global classroom where the instructor leads a discussion from the CBB and have students from Houston to Hanoi, Beijing to Bangalore, share ideas and questions? Will students be able to pick and choose courses from different institutions and universities and load them into a global education shopping cart that earns them a degree or not? If information becomes freely available, what will be the value-added component of a degree? What do you think?