Dr. Daniel Robeson, a new Penn Yan resident, was recently named chair of the Division of Business and Management and the first director of business analytics for Keuka College. Robeson comes to the College from a prior post as founding dean of the School of Management at The Sage Colleges in Troy and Albany.
With graduate work focused in the area of “radical innovation” (also known as “discontinuous innovation”), Dr. Robeson is qualified to teach a number of subjects, ranging from quality management to macroeconomics to business strategy to finance. His professional background includes three years as a stockbroker, two years in banking, and almost 10 years in international business focused on management and quality assurance in large-scale start-up plants in South America for the former American National Can Co. (now Rexam National Beverage, London).
In 2000, Dr. Robeson transitioned into higher education, completing an MBA and then a Ph.D. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He began teaching courses at The Sage Colleges in 2006. He was appointed chair of the department of management, starting in June 2008 and a year later, was appointed founding dean of the School of Management at The Sage Colleges. His family ties to Italy Valley and Vine Valley, not far from Keuka Lake, can be traced back to the early 1800’s, and he can even claim a direct tie to Keuka College: his great-grandfather Charles Robeson attended the “academy” here, 1893-96, before it became an all-women’s institution.
Last book read: I found I can read about six to eight books at any one time, so that’s a complex question: “Big Data and Business Analytics” by Jay Liebowitz is a basic exploration of analytics, kind of a primer on what’s going on in both business and computer sciences, related to new ways to analyze large flows of data we now collect. That’s been an eye-opener.
Another popular press book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman is very much about the differences in the human mind, the decision-making processes which are fast and done heuristically, versus those that proceed at a slower pace and require more analysis, and how those two systems in the human brain can sometimes conflict with each other.
For pleasure, I really like to read Swedish murder-mystery writer Henning Mankell, who wrote the Wallendar series on PBS, or I like Daniel Silva who writes murder mysteries based in the Middle East but will take you all over the world.
While packing and moving, I came across Plato’s “Republic,” and picked that up. The other book I am reading now is “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy and I’m enjoying that one. I was recently in Russia and had the opportunity to go to Yasnaya Polyana and see his ancestral home and view the grounds.
Favorite quote: J.R.R. Tolkein: “Not all those who wander are lost.” I think it fits: I move around, I try different things, I learn by experience and that’s worked for me pretty well. So far, so good.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why?
Superheroes come to mind for me. In the Daniel Silva novels, his big character, Gabriel Allon, is an all-around spy, assassin, talented painting restorer, literary type. Not always a benign character, very passionate, maybe too passionate.
How would you incorporate fun components within teaching or within the structuring of an academic division? What makes that fun?: The day-to-day part, the mechanics, is not that fun for me, but what’s super gratifying is to see a student do a full cycle in their education, to teach them when they’re a freshman and have them again at the end of their program when they’re a senior and be able to note the change. Generally, they are much more poised, more focused and you can see that they’re ready to enter new careers and new worlds. That’s true at the graduate level as well, to see students in their mid-30s/early 40s mature and season up even on a two-week trip to a place like China. Witnessing the result of a person’s education gives me a lot of satisfaction I was part of that.
What are some goals you have for development of the coming Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics?: It’s early yet but to the extent we can get students into a Field Period ™ or ultimately, [jobs] that are more technical or quantitative with successful companies that are more established, that’s what I’m after. Within business and higher education, when students can describe meaningful work experiences in high-performing companies where the work is technical in nature, that’s the currency of the business and management realm. That’s what gets you the jobs, to be able to sit down with a hiring manager and say, ‘Let me tell you about my experience.’ That’s what gets you in the door.
What specifics might we see in terms of curriculum or other unique projects, partnerships or collaborations? I’m working directly for the president on that initiative, in collaboration with the provost, Dr. Paul Forestell. I envision there will be a curricular component to [the Center], that will be interdisciplinary and probably include some basics in computer science, statistics, information systems and business and perhaps health sciences. There’s not a whole lot of similar programs out there, but I’m looking at NYU, which has a business analytics center. Meanwhile, Villanova and the University of Cincinnati have interesting programs with lots of faculty from different parts of the college. The curriculum may be the hardest piece but in terms of the business side, we are looking at using the Center as a tool to leverage our new START-UP NY designation, the tax-free zone, to bring companies and their challenges right to Keuka College so that we can work on producing solutions. This could provide students research opportunities where they could gain experience and wisdom to ultimately, get better and more technical internships at the companies we bring in. Positions such as data architect, data visualization expert, business analytics specialist … those are the end point in my mind right now. Our goal is to do a lot of good for the business community, locally and in the larger cities in western New York. Right now, we’re building that capability.
Faculty members who teach in the Division of Business and Management bring significant, real-world experience to the classroom.
For example, take Rita Gow, associate professor of accounting, who came to Keuka College in 2005 after a distinguished career at Ernst & Young, a public accounting firm in Boston, Mass. She also worked for a Fortune 500 company, not-for-profit organizations including the Susan B. Anthony House (a national historic landmark), and a family-run insurance agency.
“Teaching is a different culture than I was used to, but I did what I tell everyone—persevere,” said Gow, who retired after the 2013 fall semester. “It’s OK to try new things, to take a chance and do something different. Change can be invigorating.”
In fact, change was the focus of the speech she delivered at academic convocation—her reward for being named Professor of the Year in 2011.
Gow said change “pushes us outside our comfort zone.
“But it’s good to step outside that box,” she said at the ceremony. “We all feel a bit of anxiety at some point—this is not necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate you.”
And motivation is what can help students who may be struggling in their classes.
“If a student is simply willing to try, work hard and persevere, they will succeed,” said Gow. “The College has had some fantastic success stories, including those who work for one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms or have done well in graduate school. We have had students work at both Ernst & Young and KPMG, and many have found success at both large and small accounting firms.”
Reflecting on her years at Keuka, Gow said “there are a lot of hard-working people [here] and I’ve been lucky to work with some really great students, like Joe DeBarr ‘12. He came to Keuka, while his twin brother went to SUNY Albany. Both were accounting majors. Every so often, I’d ask Joe how he liked it here and if he was considering transferring to Albany. Each time, he said ‘no’ [to the second part of the question]. While he enjoyed visiting his brother, the culture at Keuka was a perfect fit for him.”
After graduation, both brothers applied—and were accepted—to Syracuse University for graduate school.
“To me, this is a great success story,” said Gow. “It says that even though Keuka has a small accounting major, we have proven over and over that it is still rigorous enough to compete with a larger program.”
Gow said ”it’s been fun to see the students come in as freshmen and evolve into seniors. I like that I may have had a part in helping students grow, even if they are not accounting majors. I like that about my job.
“Sometimes, I’ll get a note, or card, or Facebook message from a former student thanking me for teaching them. It’s not always obvious to them at the time that they will use what they have learned here. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard ‘I wish I’d paid more attention in accounting…’”
If she had collected those nickels, she might have saved them and used them to visit her daughter, who will move to Capetown, South Africa.
“My husband and I might use Capetown as a jumping off point to travel some more,” said Gow. “We will also visit my son and his wife in Virginia, who have three daughters, including twins. They are all under 3-years-old.”
And while Gow plans to travel, Keuka Lake will always be home.
“We live on Keuka Lake and we love it here, so we plan to stay,” said Gow. “I am active in the community, including serving as treasurer for the Keuka Housing Council, and the board of the Yates Community Endowment Fund. I may also teach Accounting for Managers, a course I have taught before, in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).”
Alex Perryman, assistant professor of management and finance, was selected to serve as an NCAA Division III faculty athletics representative (FAR) fellow.
Perryman, who has served as Keuka’s FAR for three years, will represent Keuka and the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) at the annual FAR Fellows Institute Oct. 4-6 at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.
“It’s quite an honor and this is good for the College, for our student-athletes, and for myself,” said Perryman.
Perryman was nominated by Candice Poiss Murray, commissioner of the NEAC, as well as the FAR Institute Planning Committee.
“You put in for something like this but you think you won’t get selected. The really cool thing is now that I’m selected, I’ll be working with other Division III FARs, not just in the NEAC but across all of the NCAA,” said Perryman.
At the institute, Perryman will take part in a 360-degree leadership assessment process and will develop an action plan for implementation at Keuka.
The FAR Institute also provides an opportunity for fellows to bounce ideas off each other and examine the best practices of other schools.
“I like being able to see how other schools handle the situations we deal with, and how they get along with their athletic director and the others in the athletics department,” Perryman said. “We need to look at each others’ best practices and make sure our students are as successful as they can be.”
According to the NCAA, a FAR is “a member of an institution’s faculty or administrative staff holding faculty rank, who is designated by the institution’s chief executive officer or other appropriate entity to represent the institution and its faculty in the institution’s relationships with the NCAA and conference.”
As Keuka’a FAR, Perryman reviews and evaluates academic and general support services for student-athletes, conducts studies and monitors the time demands on student-athletes, and reviews student-athletes’ orientations, study hall sessions, classroom attendance, and final grades.
“Our student-athletes understand that, in my role, I’m looking out for them and trying to prepare them for when they graduate,” Perryman said. “Most of the student-athletes here have a big level of respect for me and what I do. Everything I do is for the benefit of our student-athletes.”
Another competition trophy has joined the collection in the division of Business and Management on the second floor of Hegeman Hall, as the Keuka College Enactus team brought back a symbol of its performance at Friday’s (March 22) regional competition in Baltimore, Md.
Members of the presentation team, which included six student speakers, two alternates, and two audio-visual coordinators, presented Ann Tuttle, interim chair of the division, with a first runner-up trophy Monday morning. Keuka finished behind the University of Virginia, York College, and Messiah College.
Enactus is an international, non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. The international organization formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) changed its name to Enactus this fall. (more…)
The Keuka College Enactus (formerly SIFE) team will sponsor a spaghetti dinner Thursday, Feb. 21 from 5-7 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in Penn Yan.
Tickets are $7 and can be purchased from Jordan Eaves, Enactus fundraiser coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Desiree Ford, Enactus president, at email@example.com. Tickets will also be sold at the door. Members of the College community may have dinners delivered to campus (in front of Ball Hall) at 6:15 p.m. or 7:15 p.m.
Proceeds from the dinner will help fund the team’s trip to Baltimore, Md. in March for the Enactus regional competition, which carries an invitation to the May 21-23 national competition in Kansas City, Mo. The Keuka Enactus team has qualified for nine national competitions in the past 11 years.
At the regional competition, the students will deliver a 17-minute presentation describing four community service projects they have completed this year, including a Campus Sustainability Initiative (CSI); One Piece a Week, which donates restored furniture to the Tompkins County Task Force for Battered Women to help improve living conditions; and entrepreneurial programs at Penn Yan Academy and PathStone, a private, not-for-profit regional community development and human service organization that provides services to farm workers, low-income families and economically depressed communities throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
For more information on the dinner, contact Eaves or Ford.