It’s the holiday season, so I’d like to share a Christmas story with you. As many of you know, my father is Chinese and my late-mother was an American (from Bethune, South Carolina). With this “mixed marriage”, there’s bound to be some cultural clashes in the household where I grew up. Here’s a short story about one of those clashes that haunted me for years.
When my father emigrated to the U.S. in 1948, he traveled directly to Waco, Texas and lived with a host family while he was attending Baylor University (seeking his Master’s degree). He had never experienced Christmas, and didn’t really understand the significance of it. But the faithful family he was living with adamantly held the holiday spirit, complete with a Christmas tree, lights on their home, presents under the tree, and a lunch meal on Christmas day. On that special day, the family was excited not only about Christmas but the arrival of their son–who was traveling home that day from abroad where he was fulfilling his military duties. To share the Christmas celebration, the family decided not to open any presents or eat lunch until after their son arrived safely home. He arrived that day in the early afternoon, so the family ate around 1pm and opened their presents at 3pm. It was an amazing reunion, but not without consequences….
Since it was my father’s first Christmas, he assumed that is how all Americans celebrated Christmas. So when I was growing up, every year on December 25th we’d eat lunch at 1pm, and open presents at 3pm. I recall as a young boy so many times on Christmas morning when friends of mine would be riding their new bikes, playing catch with their new footballs, and wearing new clothes, they’d ask me, “Alan, what’d you get for Christmas?” and my reply would always be the same, “I don’t know! I’ll tell you later.” Strangely enough, I’ve spent over 50 consecutive Christmases with my father and every year has been the same frustration–especially for my children (having to endure the same delays I had to when I was a child).
We’ve done it for so many years, that we’ve adopted the late lunch and late opening of presents as our family tradition. Considering my father is 88 years old, I wouldn’t have it any other way….
Happy Holidays and thanks for your support of the School of Business!
As Dean, sometimes I get the opportunity to do some fun and different things. Last weekend I traveled to Washington DC to visit with Jeff Fried–a prominent local attorney/sports promoter–and to meet leaders throughout the sports business industry, including HBO Sports, the Washington Capitals and Reebok, as well as cutting-edge businesses in event planning, boxing and sports promotion. The weekend was highlighted by a boxing match between Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan, the IBF and WBA light welterweight champion. Khan was a 2 to 1 favorite to retain his title against the local hero (Peterson). After a hard fought battle, Peterson surprisingly beat Khan on a split decision. It was an amazing fight (preceded by five undercards), and showed what a great city can do through sports and effective event planning.
My purpose of traveling to Washington was to meet with Jeff and discuss with him my tentative plans to begin a Sports Business Institute at the School of Business. (Jeff will be moving to Kiawah in 2012 and expressed a strong interest in becoming closely involved in the development of the Institute. He is an icon in the sports industry, and has represented such notable athletes as Riddick Bowe–former world heavyweight boxing champion, and Phil Ivey–former world poker champion.) The trip was part of my due diligence to evaluate the pros and cons of the proposed Institute. All in all, the trip was both enjoyable and informative. Jeff told me that he’s already lined up 10 world-class speakers to Charleston, once the Institute is ready to go. Stay tuned as the Institute continues to be developed….
Another part of my week was spent meeting with faculty, congratulating those who were tenured and promoted. These faculty are both excellent in the classroom and in scholarship, so it is crucial that the College make a longterm commitment to them.
Last night I had the opportunity to visit with SC Secretary of Commere Bobby HItt at President Benson’s home. I knew Bobby when he was manager of Corporate Affairs at BMW. Today (Saturday) he was the keynote speaker at our Fall Commencement ceremony and received an honorary doctorate from CofC. It is a well-deserved honor. I’m hoping that once he completes his responsibilities to the state, that he’ll become an Executive-in-Residence in the School of Business. He would be an excellent mentor to our students.
People often ask me, “What does a business school dean do?” I typically respond by telling them that I while I perform a variety of tasks, the majority of activities fit into five buckets. First, I have to be a strategic planner. That means that I need to constantly consider where we are and where we’re going. For those who know me, you know that our present and future direction includes globalization, increased graduate programs, faculty development, professional education, distance learning –and a continuous emphasis on our students. Second, I have to be a fund-raiser. Due to major budget cuts from the state of South Carolina, it is imperative that I raise funds to achieve our goals. I can sit around talking all about our plans, but without financial support from our friends then we would be severely limited on what we can actually accomplish. Third, I have to be a friend-raiser. Our business school has so many needs that can be satisfied by business community members and others who are off-campus, that it is imperative that I generate a significant pool of “friends of the business school” who are willing to serve numerous roles, such as lecturing in our classrooms, mentoring students, offering internships, giving plant tours, and much more. Fourth, I have to manage our budget. I need to ensure that we are properly spending our funds to best serve our students. Lastly, I have to be a motivator. In order to inspire our faculty, staff, and friends in the business community, I need to give them realistic optimism for the future. Of course, fund-raising, friend-raising and a sound strategic plan serves to motivate and create optimism for the future. At the end of the day though, everything I do is to satisfy one objective, and that is to create the best possible “ready to work” graduate.
Alan T. Shao, Dean
I want to welcome you to my blog. My plan is to share with our friends—on a timely basis–some of the more important things I do as Dean of the School of Business at the College of Charleston. I often meet with influential people who can help me move the business school forward. When I think back at my first 2 3/4 years at CofC, I have met some of the most amazing people that our friends should know about. I will also share with you my future plans for the business school. You can rest assured that these plans will continue to differentiate us from the others. While visiting my blog, I also encourage you to regularly visit other parts of our website to learn more about our undergraduate programs , exciting MBA and MS in Accounting graduate programs , and of course, our highly qualified faculty and staff . I’ll also share with you what’s happening with the fabulous group that comprises my advisory board (we call them our “Board of Governors”) who represents the business community in Charleston and around the world. Please check back here every Monday afternoon to read my latest postings. You’ll see why I enjoy what I do everyday as dean to strengthen our students, alumni, and School .