By Jada Butler
The College of Management is in its second year of its Dean Scholars program. First initiated in the fall of 2016 as a collaboration between Dean Robert Valli and Assistant Deans Raymond Pullaro and Graziela Fusaro, the Dean Scholars are a selective group of 25 students handpicked from a pool of high achieving high school seniors interested in studying business, management, and entrepreneurship at Post.
“Much is provided for them, much is expected of them,” Valli said. The second prong is to have the Dean Scholars act as first line ambassadors for the school. They help promote new initiatives to the student body, like through student run businesses and events during the Global Entrepreneurship Week; meet, recruit and mentor new students; and they represent the school within the community with businesses and government agencies, such as through the LIU-iQ Consulting firm.
At the start of the semester, there is a three prong goal put in place for the Dean Scholars, according to Valli. The first is to help accelerate their passions and skills – both hard skills like excel, presentations, and so that they can be most prepared for job interviews and jobs. “We begin with the end in mind,” Valli said. “And that’s a three letter word – J-O-B.”
The third prong involves tracking the scholars over a four year period to help them with core requirements, both inside and outside of the college. “We track them over four years and the expectation is that they will have four internships in four years. Some of them might be summer internships, or short internships [like] during accounting season for two months,” Valli said.
The deans start by putting the scholars in touch with professionals and VIPs that not only come through a Leadership Speaking Series on campus, but also to put them in touch with professionals “coming into town.” Last year’s group went to a luncheon with Colin Powell when he spoke on campus, and this year’s group went to hear former President Bill Clinton speak at the Tilles Center in October.
Second-year Dean Scholar, Dylan Silva, a senior business management major, works as a teaching assistant (TA) where he focuses on recruiting potential Dean Scholars for next year and on getting the current scholars involved on campus through different opportunities. “Dean Scholars has personally benefited me extensively,” he said. Last year, Silva interviewed with 11 different companies, all interested in what “Dean Scholars” listed on his resumé meant.
“The Dean Scholars program leaves me speechless,” Antonio Deodato, a freshman computer science major, Dean Scholar and Sanford Scholar [a full ride scholarship], and member of the baseball team, said. “The amount of connections they have made for us is greatly appreciated. Especially the events they recommend us to attend, [such as] Bill Clinton and IMA where we got to speak with a variety of companies, like Canon, for potential internships. I wouldn’t be able to get that anywhere else, especially with Dean Valli and Pullaro being able to be that close with us, by our side, guiding us through college. You don’t get that at another big school.”
“I got an internship with Meijer [a food market industry], which is the 16th largest privately owned company [in the U.S.],” he said. Silva worked as a business analyst for the company. At the end of his internship, he was approached by the CEO & President of the company, who is worth $18 billion, and asked one question: “Why LIU?”
“Essentially, because of the Dean Scholars program and what it has done for me. It has allowed me to take what I am learning in the classroom and implement it into real world use through different organizations on campus such as student run businesses [and] the investment firm, LIU-iQ.”
One of those faculty members is Dane Stangler, a visiting associate professor of marketing, who is the Vice President of Research & Policy at the Ewing Marion Kau man Foundation, which is considered to be the “mecha of entrepreneurship.” Stangler teaches ENT15 alongside Dean Valli for the first semester of the Dean Scholars program.
“I hope to create an environment of exploration, especially in the entrepreneurship side,” Stangler said. He wants the scholars to explore what entrepreneurship means. “You can’t turn around these days without seeing the word ‘entrepreneurship’ or ‘startup,’” he said.
Stangler encourages open discussions in class. “It’s hard to learn or teach management in a classroom setting. It’s actually impossible; it can’t be done,” he said. Management skills are something that have to be learned “on the job.”
“They’ve been teaching us the content you wouldn’t be taught [elsewhere]. How to present yourself in a professional environment, how to dress properly,” Deodato said. “It sounds simple, but it actually makes a big difference. It’s those very slight aspects that you hold for yourself that make a difference in the long run.”
Deodato is also in the Honors College. “We have great discussions on the content we read, we go really in-depth and relate it to now,” he said about his honors English course. The interdisciplinary nature of the Honors College goes well with the Dean Scholars program, according to both Dean Pullaro and Valli. “[We] are actively collaborating on how to get those academically high achieving students that want to do an honors program, write a thesis, do undergraduate research, and also want to do Dean Scholars, and how they can do that more efficiently,” Pullaro said.
“Students will be able to graduate with honors and dean scholars on their diploma,” Joan Digby, director of the Honors College, said. Dean Scholars who are in the Honors College will be able to write about their experiences in the program for their honors thesis, according to Digby.
Another area of focus in the dean scholars program is the concept of agility. The scholars are taught on how to deal with circumstance and changes within their environments. “The ground is always going to shift beneath your feet,” Stangler said.
“I think it [agility] is definitely more valuable to me now,” Danny Keane, a freshman, undecided, Dean Scholar and member of the baseball team, said. “I never considered how time consuming college can be. Going to class, studying and playing baseball is a lot at times. Being agile is valuable to have, without it I would be overwhelmed.”
This theme intertwined with a lecture from guest speaker David Bodde, a retired professor of entrepreneurship in the automotive engineering program at Clemson University, a theme developer for a hedge fund, Ark Invest, and a senior scholar at the Kau man Foundation in Kansas City. Bodde was one of several guest speakers this semester for the Dean Scholars program. He spoke about the “unknowable future,” and the direction in which technology and the market are going.
“In the unknowable future, agility is the only recourse you have. You can’t know enough to set your course,” Bodde said. He also spoke about artificial intelligence and how it is becoming a “game changer” in entrepreneurship.
“Forty percent of jobs haven’t been created yet,” Samantha Piccolo, a freshman marketing major and Dean Scholar, said. “The more you know about yourself the more you can go into your career and succeed through that,” she said.
The Dean Scholars program is in its second year and still growing. Dean Pullaro expressed that they are soon hoping to see an increase of 25 students a year to 50 students. The students in the program believe that the work, experiences, and opportunities available to them will clear a path to success.