Next to baseball trivia, my mind is filled with song lyrics (then historical figures and events, then dean stuff, then to Suzanne’s dissatisfaction, her honey do list). I am a great admirer of the ability to turn a phrase and succinctly communicate in memorable fashion the power and emotion of ideas and events. One of my contemporary favorites is Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. I saw him a few years ago in Las Vegas where he confessed that the song These Little Wonders was inspired by a walk with his dog in the rain. Rob didn’t want to go at first because he was grumpy and it was pouring, but the little guy wanted it so badly and loved it so much that the moment stuck.

These little wonders

These twists and turns of fate

Time falls away,

But these small hours,

These little wonders still remain

Rob Thomas

I was reminded of these lyrics Friday at lunch with David Withee and Blaine Strickland. I met David via alum Merrell Bailey and David was now introducing me to Blaine. Blaine is in commercial real estate, teaches at two well-known schools up north, and has done some work on socio-economic trends in Florida and what they will mean for higher education. David knew that I would want to meet Blaine.

As the conversation unfolded and we discussed the need to find a viable business model for higher education, Blaine revealed that he had a son at UCF who had experienced both the very large lecture capture environment and more traditional face-to-face classes. He then went on to describe an interaction his son had with Cameron Ford. Blaine’s son went to see Cameron on the spur of the moment. Cameron reportedly said that he had to hurry to a meeting across campus, but if Master Strickland had the time they could walk together and talk along the way. They did.

I do not recall the substance of the discussion other than it was an issue with a class assignment, but from both the look on Blaine’s face and his recount of the impact of the encounter, that one interaction with Cameron changed Blaine’s son’s perception of UCF: a big place became small; faculty became approachable, a sense of new possibilities became apparent and a parent had affirmation of his financial investment. One invite to walk together across campus: little wonders.

P.S. Just in case it’s unclear, Cameron is the puppy in my version of the story, Blaine’s son is Rob Thomas.

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at post appeared on January 7, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley.