Notes from Ken Brown, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

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Ken Brown

Hello, my name is Ken Brown. I am the Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Program in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. This blog will share my thoughts on work and life. Feel free to use the comment feature to send your thoughts, questions, and feedback. Happy reading and go Hawks!

Welcome the stranger

The Old Testament, central to both Judaic and Christian religious traditions, contains a verse that I heard a few times this weekend:

“You are to treat the resident alien the same way you treat the native born among you—love him like yourself, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (ISV, Leviticus 19:34).

I thought of this idea a lot this weekend because of the generosity and hospitality of Bob and Christy Walker, who hosted the Global Buddies at their farm house west of Iowa City. Its a beautiful home, and there were many of us there to share food and stories. The Walkers take this “welcome the stranger” idea to heart — they treat everyone they meet just as they do members of their own family. It’s a powerful idea and one that has the potential to bring healing and peace wherever it is applied. That’s not to say that it is easy or that it is a panacea, but I believe in the power of kindness to transform.

Thanks, Bob and Christy, for a great evening. If you haven’t met Bob, follow him on Twitter (@heyprofbob) or LinkedIn (

Young alumni workshops

I can’t say enough about the brilliance and dedication of our Young Alumni Board. They will be here on campus tomorrow (September 25) to give workshops to current students and host a reception. I recommend that any students, first year to senior, consider attending. Here are the details of the sessions:

3:30-4:20         Workshop Session #1: Finance (S107)

3:30-4:20         Workshop Session #2: Marketing (C107)

3:30-4:20         Workshop Session #3: Management (C121)

3:30-4:20          Workshop Session #4: Accounting (C125)

3:30-4:20          Workshop Session #5: BAIS (S207)

3:30-4:20          Workshop Session #6: Economics (W181)

4:30 pm              Reception (Howe Galleria)

Eid al-Adha

It seems like Islam is in the news a lot recently, courtesy of comments made during a recent Republican primary debate. If you don’t know much about Islam, you can read up on it on BBC’s religion page.

This Thursday is a major Islamic holiday — Eid al-Adha — that corresponds to an event common to the three major monotheistic religions: the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son to God. Abraham is a fascinating character at the center of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, a fact explored in detail by Bruce Feiler in his book, Abraham.

Why is all this relevant to business? It is estimated that 28% of the world’s population is Muslim including over 50% of those who live in Africa. There are currently 50 countries that are Muslim-majority. That makes Islam the second largest religious group in the world! If you want to understand global business, then understanding the Islamic faith will really help.

I’ll give you another reason to learn more. A conversation I had with some international students recently centered on food as central to exploring a new culture. Sharing food, or breaking bread as some like to say, is a great way to learn and have fun. The food associated with Eid al-Adha, and other Islamic holy days, is outstanding. Here’s one look:


What is Labor Day?

I hope you have enjoyed a great holiday weekend. I rested, swam in the neighborhood pool, and barbecued with family and friends. What a great way to spend a long weekend!

Before the holiday is completely over, I want to pause to ask what is labor day, and why is it a federal holiday? Labor Day celebrates the American worker and the labor movement that helped create safe and humane working conditions. Many of the things we take for granted in the United States — absence of child labor and and weekends off, for example — were fought and earned by activists who formed labor unions.

The History Channel has a great video on Labor Day as a national holiday (giving some credit to Canada).

Unions have been steadily decreasing in power and popularity in the US since the 1970’s. But we should remember just how important they have been for doing more than just raising pay; unions have helped save lives. There are many examples of companies that are thriving by collaborating with their unions rather than fighting them, including Southwest Airlines and (in the article below) Fruit of the Loom.

So as I enjoy my last bit of holiday, I’m going to toast the labor leaders who helped make the United States a better place for the working and middle class! And, in other countries were labor is working under terrible conditions, I hope that they are able to organize and win the working conditions that we now enjoy.


Eat free!

Free food today from 3-5pm on the PBB patio. Come join us!

As we wind up Tippie Launch week, there are lots of opportunities to learn about global programs, such as a Study Abroad 101 session from 2:30-3:15pm in W401 PBB. I encourage you to check the college calendar for ideas.

Also, looking ahead, September 24th will be the largest career fair ever held on Iowa campus. Over 160 employers from around the country are coming. Stay tuned for related events as these employers descend on campus. There will be many opportunities for mock interviews and networking! Its never too early to start preparing!

Welcome back! Start strong!

Welcome back from what I hope was a fun and productive summer. I hope the first day of classes went well. Its time to set a foundation for a great semester by starting strong. I have two suggestions: (1) Participate in LaunchWeek events, and (2) Set goals related to your classes.

First, starting Friday, August 28, we are into “Launch Week.” This event is designed to help you launch into a successful academic year. It begins with a dynamic “Ignite” session where you will hear successful upper-class students give short talks about what they’ve learned so far. The week continues on Monday with major information fairs. There are additional events Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. There is something for everyone, regardless of your current major, so plan to attend one or more events:

Second, I suggest you start strong by setting class-related goals. Goals motivate action, so I encourage you to set three goals this week, or add them to your other plans: (1) Read every class syllabus carefully once you get access to it, (2) arrive 10 minutes early for every class, and (3) introduce yourself to 2 people in every class and ask whether they would exchange contact information. Notice the theme here — “every class.” If you’ve signed up for a class, then honor that commitment and plan ahead so you can do well. The best way to make sure you will have a good semester is to understand every class’s policies and procedure (noted on the syllabi) and establish a network that will help you stay informed (including your teachers and peers).

In short, don’t be a Ferris Bueller this week!

Summer fun? Tell me about it!

What are you doing with your summer? I know students interning in Hong Kong, Paris, New York, Chicago, and even here in Iowa City. I also know students taking classes and working part-time. What great learning opportunities!

I finished trips to the Ohio, Delaware, New York, and Michigan. Up next — Beijing and Shanghai. I’m meeting up with some students and alumni there. If you have any tips for my trip let me know. I am bringing my 14-year old daughter with me so she can see these amazing cities.

After China, I’m back in the office for a while before more trips — Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver. I love to travel. If you have great summer travel stories, post them here or email me! Pictures are great, too. I post a few on Tumbler, Twitter, and Facebook and welcome you to connect with me there. My username is always some variant of kgbphd. Safe and happy summer to everyone.

Fun blog by Tippie alum — a Chicago insider!

One of my former students, Maddy Osman, recently reached out to me about a new project she started for people living in (or visiting) Chicago.

The project is a lifestyle blog called Chicago Cheap Ass. Despite the slightly abrasive name, the blog aims to show those living on a budget how to enjoy the city of Chicago. Maddy covers topics as diverse as food, transportation, entertainment and dating, and it has a companion Facebook page with current deals.

For those looking to start a blog, Maddy is happy to be a mentor. She has experience in the marketing and technical fields necessary to be successful. Feel free to reach out at If you’re local to Chicago and need a creative outlet, she’s always looking to feature interested writers as well!

Ken Brown has been teaching at the University of Iowa since 1998. Despite being born in Texas and growing up in Maryland, Ken is almost an Iowa native. His parents met here in graduate school back in the 1960's, and married soon thereafter. Without the fantastic programs here at the University to lure people from all over, Ken wouldn't be here today. Or be anywhere for that matter. View Ken's Tippie profile.