Congratulations to Pacesetters and their Families

I had the privilege of attending the Fisher Pacesetters Awards yesterday at the Blackwell. (No, I am not a Pacesetter, so the ceremony was not for me. I was invited because I was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society.)

Pacesetters are selected from the top 2% of Fisher students, then candidates are further winnowed down to those with demonstrated leadership abilities. To be selected as a Pacesetter is a real honor.

(I want to pause to shout out to Jackie Trolio, Working Professional MBA, WPMBA Council officer and Pacesetter award recipient.)

Sitting in the audience, I started to think about what it takes to attain that level of achievement. I decided that no one, however preternaturally talented, could do it alone. Sitting with me, filling the room to capacity, were the families, friends and partners who supported the young phenoms emotionally and probably financially.

Without detracting from the credit due to the students, I want to acknowledge the families who stood behind them and groomed them for achievement; who kept engaged in their lives; who encouraged and mentored them to take on new challenges; who picked them up when they fell; who guided them to the opportunities available.

I’m sure these are not the first or the last honors they will receive. Please join me in congratulating the students along with their parents who more than deserve the glory obliquely reflected their way.

Buckeye Fever

If you haven’t spent much time in Central Ohio, it’s difficult to appreciate the scope of Buckeye Fever here.

Ohio Stadium During a Pre-Conference Game

Ohio Stadium seats over 100,000, and is quite often full. That’s a larger crowd than some professional teams, and the Buckeyes frequently set the NCAA record for attendance.

In addition to the fans in the stadium, an additional tens of thousands attend nearby block parties large and small. Beyond that, many more watch from home or from bars. If you do go out, but are not in the OSU area, this metro area of 1.5 million is eerily quiet and traffic is light, as everyone is planted somewhere cheering on their team. (If you don’t care for the hoopla, games are a perfect time to go grocery shopping – there are no lines anywhere.)

The local newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, dedicated its entire sports section and a large teaser on the front page after a win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles – it wasn’t even a conference game, and the result was pretty much a given (so where’s the news?). Whichever local television station has the game typically dedicates at least an hour afterward to coverage, including an extended interview with head coach Jim Tressel. Several of the local news broadcasts have daily segments on the Buckeyes, are there are at least two radio stations that have mostly Buckeyes content all the time.

It is often said that professional sports could never make it in Columbus, due to the Buckeyes absorbing all of the demand. That’s not entirely true, as we now have a moderately successful hockey (NHL) team, a soccer team (MLS), and a minor-league baseball team (AAA). But past attempts at arena football never caught on (although it did last four years before the entire league folded.) An NFL team would have a hard time pulling attention away from the Buckeyes.

The picture above was shot at my very first Buckeyes game. It was a great experience, being there in person and feeling the energy multiply. I have a ticket to four more games this year, including the all-consuming and all-important Michigan game. I have a wedding to go to this week (Indiana), but I’ll be at the others (Penn State, Purdue and Michigan).

Growing up in Columbus, I should be used to this by now. But it still amazes just how aligned the entire city is behind the Buckeyes. The fire hydrants in Gahanna, a suburb, are painted scarlet and gray.

A friend of mine, whose undergrad is from OSU, tells a story: She had a great job interview in New York. She had researched the company thoroughly: their history, achievements and challenges. She knew the industry. She was ready. She had it cold. The first question was, “how about those Buckeyes?” But she hadn’t studied for that one and went away disappointed.

If you don’t like football now, you’ll have to learn to when you get here. It permeates the culture in central Ohio. I’ll bet you can even find Buckeyes-themed fine art at the Gallery Hop.

If you don’t want to spring for a ticket, you can always watch at the VC or at one of the many block parties such as the one shown below. But you need to make the acquaintance of  your Buckeyes one way or another.

A giant mob peacefully waiting for the Buckeyes game to begin

Varsity Club

The sign at the Varsity Club on Lane Avenue
The Varsity Club on Lane Avenue

So enough history. Let’s talk about beer.

As you can imagine, our schedule in the Working Professionals program is a little bit different from that of students in the Full Time program.

Since there are no classes on Friday, the “day kids” start their weekends on Thursday at around 6:00pm, and they often do so at the Varsity Club.

This is the time that most of us working stiffs are just starting class. By the time we finish class around 9:45, they have generally moved on. So they take the first shift, and we take the second.

The Varsity Club is really close to the Fisher campus, just across Lane Avenue from the parking lot many Fisher commuter students use – so it is a convenient meeting place.

Due to its convenience and the friendly owners, the Working Professionals MBA Council organizes pizza parties there periodically as networking events. There is usually one on the first Thursday of the quarter, and there is a pretty good turnout – considering some of us have staff meetings in the morning. Of course, the Council does supply the pizza, and we business students know the value of free pizza.

During these networking events, we fill the place up pretty well:

The Varsity Club patio full of WPMBA students
The Varsity Club patio after Fisher evening classes let out
The Varsity Club patio before classes let out
The Varsity Club patio before Fisher evening classes let out

The VC also gets pretty busy around and during football games, or any sporting event. My wife and I watched the US tie England there in the World Cup along with a pretty good crowd.

Because we have less time to have fun, we tend to take it seriously.

With busy lives and intense classes, it’s critical to unwind once in awhile. And since we working professionals don’t spend much time on campus outside of classes, it’s important to make time to get to know each other and make friends. These networking events are the perfect time to do that.

The Great Emancipator

I’ve just returned from a trip to Washington, DC as part of a program called Washington Campus, which is a for-credit program you can take through Fisher – and which I recommend. I’ll talk more about this later.

I took the opportunity to go the Lincoln Memorial and look up at the Great Emancipator.

The Great Emancipator
Lincoln looks off to the horizon

You may not know about the important connection that Lincoln has to The Ohio State University. And you may be even more confused when you remember that the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (which would become OSU) was founded in 1870, after Lincoln was tragically assassinated in 1865.

Well, in addition to his enormous legacy in preserving the union and advancing civil rights, Lincoln contributed to another of America’s enduring sources of strength – our great public university systems.

The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 offered federal lands in order to create and fund new universities – institutions dedicated to teaching and developing the important technologies of the day, agriculture and engineering.

Typical other universities at the time emphasized classics and professional training such as law. So the addition of these research universities all over the country contributed greatly to the advancement of science and engineering and to the high standard of living we enjoy today.

Lincoln was president when Congress passed the bill and his signature made it law. Having been raised a farmer and being the only US president ever to have a patent, you can imagine that Lincoln must have taken a particular interest in the arts it encouraged.

So as you advance in your knowledge and your career, remember that the opportunities you enjoy were put in place by those who came before. Try and leave a legacy of learning for those that will come after you.

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” – John of Salisbury

And next time you are on campus, look for the Lincoln and Morrill towers that were named to honor the giants that made our great university possible.