I had a new outreach experience yesterday. I can’t offer much in take-aways or lessons learned except maybe:
- Librarians are held in high-regard in academia;
- Academic leaders are interested in hearing about librarian contributions beyond our traditional roles;
- We need to keep getting our word out, not just speak to each other at library conferences.
My teaching partner Professor Nick Williamson and I spoke at the UNC Student Success Symposium in Raleigh. This state-wide event was sponsored by the UNC General Administration (GA), which oversees our 17 campuses. The goal of the symposium is to
bring UNC campus administrators, staff, and faculty together with key legislative decision makers for a one day convening, focusing on a better understanding and fostering of student success
The audience included members of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG), GA members, campus leaders, and state legislators.
The symposium began with a welcome from our new UNC President, Margaret Spellings, followed by a “policy makers” panel discussion. Their discussion was pretty broad in contrast to the next event, a “Speed round of five initiatives highlighting UNC institutions to enhance post-graduation opportunities”.
GA asked campuses to submit proposals for the speed round. The UNCG Provost collected ideas from our campus deans, choose four, and submitted those to GA. From the four UNCG proposals, GA choose the Export Odyssey class which Nick and I co-teach.
We had five minutes and one presentation slide to work with. All the speed round presenters were interesting, but ours was the only one that actually mentioned students by name (significant I think since this was after all a student success symposium). We were also the only business-related topic, which is probably why many members of the Board of Governments talked to us after the program. Most of those folks are now business people.
Below is the introduction of our talk. A 10-minute break followed the speed round, and Nick and I spent all of that time up front fielding questions or receiving well-wishes. We talked to members of the BOG, GA vice-presidents (such as the one for International Community & Economic Engagement), one of the state legislators, and our own UNCG Provost. There was interest in the possibility of expanding the program. But a couple of folks stopped me just to say they were happy to see a librarian on stage (I was most likely the only librarian at the event). One GA official said he hopes to see more examples of such librarian engagement in the future. I’ve heard similar comments when Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I spoke at the SBI conference recently, and when colleague Jenny Dale and I quizzed our campus deans.
Nick and I were invited to stay for lunch, but I had to teach at 2pm back in Greensboro. Nick said it’s always good to leave the audience wanting more, anyway. Nick and a former student of his who is now a member of the BOG plan to have lunch soon as a follow-up. I’ll go too if I’m free.
Opening of our 5 minute talk:
Good morning! The heart of UNCG’s Marketing 426, International Marketing (a class required of all marketing majors) is the Export Odyssey project. The goal of Export Odyssey is for the student teams to recruit a North Carolina manufacturer and then make that company’s first international sale, or make for that company a sale to a new foreign market. The students learn how to do this in only about 10 weeks. Student teams have make export sales of North Carolina manufactured products to foreign buyers. Examples include….
- $15,000 yarn density testing machine made by J.A. King of Greensboro, NC, sold to a trading company located in Mumbai, India.
- Industrial rollers used to impart ink onto beverage cans, sold to a Malaysian producer of beer. The exporter was Finzer Roller of Kernersville.
- Wine from the Noni Bacca Winery of Wilmington sold to an Australian retailer
- Pickles sold to the U. K. on behalf of Miss Jenny’s Pickles of Kernersville. That English customer later became a large scale, repeat customer. Miss Jenny’s Pickles became the 2014 North Carolina Exporter of the Year.
- And there are other examples.
Therefore the students in this class live out the emphasis of UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics on problem-solving, community and global engagement, and economic development, while also learning from a research-intensive, hands-on experience that has no direct counterpart in the United States, as far as we know….
[Then we talked about how Nick was inspired by a student to create the Export Odyssey project, the research we teach the students to do, and 3 student success stories.]