The last Tweetback Thursday of the semester comes from our own Lonny Butcher who asks: “What role does/should the College of Business Administration play in service to the Central FL community? What has the Dean seen so far, what would he like it to be?”

Provocative question, Lonny. I don’t have a complete answer yet, but let me share some thoughts. As everyone on campus knows, President Hitt has a vision for UCF to become America’s Leading Partnership University. This is not a marketing slogan: it is a full blown effort. Helen Donegan and her staff have done a wonderful job fostering and coordinating the University’s diverse links to the wider community. They, especially Helen and EMBA alum Maritza Martinez, have opened many doors for me. And, wherever I go and wherever I speak, whether it be at a chamber meeting, civic group, or charitable organization, there is always a UCF representative there offering their time and talent through service on the community partner’s governing board. It is very impressive indeed.

As for the college, we emphasize community involvement and social entrepreneurship through our Cornerstone experience and reach out to the community through a number of our Centers, especially our Small Business Development Center and Institute for Economic Competitiveness. I am also aware of the individual efforts of many of our faculty to devote their talents and expertise to help a wide-variety of community projects and organizations.

What we lack in the college is “a branded community service effort.” We do not have a coherent approach to how we engage the community, nor do we have a strong sense of how this should relate to our wider strategic objectives and identity. Imitation being the highest form of flattery, I have taken a page from President Hitt’s book and have brought on Tiffany Hughes from our Executive Development Center to serve as our Director of Corporate and Community Relations. Tiffany and I have been meeting with community leaders from around the state for the better part of three months now to try to gain a sense of how we might best position the College to be a valuable resource in the community and partner with various organizations for our mutual benefit. At the risk of engaging in “deanspeak”: a key source of differentiation for the College is place. We must leverage the unique resources of the central Florida region to brand ourselves. This will require us to develop true partnerships: things that will add value for both parties and change the college as these partnerships evolve.

Where will this all go? Not sure, but I hope to have more to say about our strategic direction and the role of community partnership early in 2013. As always, I would be VERY interested in hearing from members of the College as well as the community on how we could best accomplish this goal.

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at post appeared on December 13, 2012. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley