Notes from Ken Brown, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Welcome to My Blog!

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!

Getting help?

Its the time of semester when the first quizzes and exams pop up, and students may realize “all is not well.”

From my own time taking classes, it was sometimes difficult to know exactly where I stood. Sometimes I overestimated how much I had understood the material. And a bad grade was a wake up call.

So what did I do when the bad news came? What should anyone do when they fail? Some great quotes speak to this:

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday. – Wilma Rudolph (Olympic athlete, fastest woman in the world in the 1960′s)

Here in Tippie, there are many places to seek help so you can learn the lessons of failure and get the boost you need to keep going. You could go to Youtube for instructional videos ( is one example for an important but mundane task) but I suggest that your peers (taking the same class), the TA, the instructor, and your adviser are your best bets. Reach out — they want to help! And then there are alumni, like the ones pictured here who were just here for the Young Alumni Board meeting (this subset representing Aegon, Edelman, Principal Financial, and Accenture).


You can get some great advice about how to succeed here at Tippie and beyond from alumni. How could you get in touch with an alum? If you’d like a alum mentor, shoot me an email ( We are exploring ways to connect current students with our alums!

Best resource for undergraduates?

What is the best resource for undergraduates to get good advice, tips, and “nuggets of knowledge” that can result in an internship, job offer, or transformative personal insight? Your parents? Your Tippie adviser? A Career Center counselor? Your professors? Each one plays an important role but I think the best resource is young alumni–professionals who were just in school and have made the successful transition into work roles.

Why are they so helpful? It’s quite simply really. First, they understand YOU because they are close to your age and have similar backgrounds and experiences. Second, they understand how to succeed in the transition from school to career because they just did it.

And in this vein, if you are an undergraduate student on campus today, you are in luck. We have our Young Alumni Board (YAB) in town today, and they will be hosting group discussions on their (and your) majors. All events are in the PBB from 2:30-3:30, and there is a reception after. I strongly encourage you to drop in for great advice. When you have a resource this valuable, you should take advantage of it. See you later this afternoon!

Accounting (C125)

BAIS (S121)

Economics (W181)

Finance (W107)

Management (S207)

Marketing (W207).

A reception with board members follows at 3:30 in the Howe Galleria.

What does a __________ do?

Like the deeply philosophical question, “what does the fox say?” a common question I hear around PBB is “what does she do?” Sometimes this is about a “lecturer” and sometimes about an “assistant professor.” Other times the question is about an “assistant director” in undergraduate programs. Here’s a quick run-down with specific examples that come to mind because these were the people who came out to help during Tippie Fest, our big start of the year celebration last Wednesday.

Lecturer. Jennifer Fuhrman is a Lecturer in Economics, and her primary job is to teach a variety of courses in Economics. She currently lectures and coordinates macro (ECON1200), which is a core course in our undergraduate program. She is also heavily engaged in developing economics teaching materials that are used all over the country. You can find her in her office most days, with the door open, ready to help students. I use Jennifer as an example because I was impressed with how hard she worked at Tippie Fest. Did anyone else notice that she stood out there for over an hour, in the hot sun, serving food to all comers? Other Lecturers I saw out there working hard at Tippie Fest – Kevin Felker, Jeff Hart, and Heidi Dybevik.

Assistant Professor. There wasn’t an assistant professor out during Tippie Fest serving food and for good reason. Assistant Professors are hired with doctoral degrees into a job that is a balance of teaching and research. And over the course of their 5 year contract, they are expected to conduct and publish world-class research; if they fail to do so, they lose their job. If they pass the hurdle and are awarded “tenure,” they are typically promoted to Associate Professor. With additional research and international recognition for scholarly work, they can earn the title of Professor. We had a Professor out there serving Wednesday — Maria Kraimer. Maria teaches courses in HR and she is well-known in business schools around the world for her scholarly work on international careers and other topics. She currently serves as the incoming President of an international association of Human Resource Professors. Not too shabby, and it makes it all that much more impressive (I think) that she chose to spend Wednesday afternoon serving hot dogs. She must like the students because I did not bribe her to be there! Cathy Cole showed up, too, and she is not only a professor in Marketing, but the Department Executive Officer (DEO), too. What’s a DEO do? We’ll have to cover that in another post, but think “department manager.”

Assistant Director (in UPO). Assistant Director’s in UPO have responsibility for advising students and running programs that enhance their educational experience. One example is Maureen Beran, who last week meet with students, attended numerous meetings, taught a section of Direct Admits, and coordinated the entire Tippie Fest event, starting with ordering the food (months ago) to folding and putting away tables after everyone else had left. Other assistant directors who were there at Tippie Fest, all balancing multiple demands that week, were Jennifer Blair, Racheal Kowbel, Matt Edwards, Mike Schluckebier, and Mark Archibald. Oh, and don’t forget Brooke Paulsen, who was also preparing for a nearly 300-person dinner party the very next day — the Direct Admit Business Etiquette Dinner. Here’s a list of the various duties of this amazing team:

Of course, not all jobs at Tippie fall into these three categories. Lynn Allendorf was serving, too, and she is the Director of the BELL. That’s also a story for another day.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for Tippie Fest and thanks to all of these folks, and a few more behind the scenes, for making it such a successful event. If you missed it, keep you eye on the college calendar because you don’t want to miss the next big event! If you check the calendar and find an event at 4pm on September 8 — email me or comment below with the name, and the first 3 who do so will get the choice of Tippie swag or a $10 Java House gift card.

Tippie Fest

Top three things to do at Tippie Fest, being held today (Wednesday) from 3 to 5pm on the PBB patio:

1) Pick up free Tippie swag from one of the 30 or so student organizations with give aways.

2) Get a free snow cone from the Tippie Senate.

3) Take a selfie with your favorite professor (maybe Professor Colbert?) or staff member (Mr. Schluckebier?)


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Thinking back to OnIowa!

We made it through the first week of classes, which included critical milestone events (like Admit One) and kicking off new readings, new project teams, and so much more.

I’m still processing all that happened in the week leading up to classes. For example, I’m still thinking about OnIowa! and the fun that our new students had just before classes started. I know I enjoyed meeting students at various events, including Group #316 at the Excel lecture just over a week ago. Their leader, Xuan (Rita) Wang, is a Finance student who also serves as President of OASIS, The Organization for the Active Support of International Students ( This is the second year running that at Tippie student leads this campus-wide organization. We have so many great leaders at Tippie! Thanks, Rita, for your service to OnIowa! and your work on behalf of international students all across campus.

oniowa group 316OnIowa informal chat

A crazy week of meet and greet (updated)

New students begin arriving at the start of this week, and many formal programs began Tuesday, including the Iowa Edge (which is run as campus-wide program but our own Brooke Paulsen is on the steering committee). Racheal Kowbel and I both presented to these students at various points this week. What a great program and a great group of students! I said they could ask me anything, and one of the participants asked for my shoe size. During one of the lunch programs for Edge students, Professor Jon Garfinkel showed up to meet and greet. Thanks, Jon!

Then OnIowa! began on Wednesday, and most of the UPO staff have at least one role in this university-wide program. UPO hosted an open house for students (great job Melissa and Brooke and all the other staff who showed including ice cream servers Maureen and Vicki) and helped coordinate a BizHawks learning community event (Mark Archibald knows how to work a great crowd). I gave the official “how to excel in your classes” lecture to 2 groups of 120 students or so. Mike Schluckebier meet with many students and took a few awesome selfies, and some of our best faculty showed up to say hello, including Kevin Den Adel, Tom Walsh, Nick Street, Nancy Abram, Erik Lie, and Erin Johnson [updated]. Who am I missing? It was an all hands on deck week, and I think I saw our own Shari Piekarski in 6 locations at once! Great job everyone. Check out some of the pictures on Twitter:

Welcome new students. We are truly excited you are here and can’t wait to get to know you better. As we told you in the Excel lecture — you MuST PrEP! First student who remembers and comments to the blog with the correct meaning of our acronym wins a $10 Java House gift certificate!


What are you excited about?

One of our neighbors is starting at Iowa this fall, and she is moving into her dorm Monday. Moving in early gives her a couple extra days to get settled, so when OnIowa! starts, she is already familiar with campus. Truthfully, she grew up here in Iowa City, so I’m not sure she has much to learn. I think she is just too excited to wait. And she is not alone. You can actually feel it in the air in and around Iowa City. People are excited and the place is buzzing with positive energy. Its about football, sure, and our neighbors had a great party with Herky and the cheer squad as a pre-season tailgate and send-off. But that excitement also comes from the start of new classes, new friendships, and new challenges. The start of fall semester is a time of renewal. What new beginnings are you most excited about this fall?


Neighborhood Party Complete with Herky and Cheer Squad

Dean Brown, Herky, and Professor Kristof-Brown

Dean Brown, Herky, and Professor Kristof-Brown


Its been a hectic week and I have done little by way of preparing for my classes. Still, I am so happy with the conversations that we’ve been having this week. Every day is further confirmation that this is a great team, and one that is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. Am I happy? You bet, and to prove it, check out this Jib Jab video produced by some of my colleagues in Australia for me:

A few miscellaneous things about our office staff that I learned this week:
* Rachael Thompson Kowbel got married earlier this summer, but after a quick honeymoon, has been in the office working like crazy to get ready for the fall semester. She is the hardest working newlywed I know.
* Mike Schluckebier can do some serious baking, as proven by his O’Henry bake today. Because of his skills, I’m going to have to work really hard to NOT gain weight working in this office.
* Pam Bourjaily, who is one of the most poised and sophisticated people I know, offered a wide smile when her mystery Lego gift was revealed to be a butcher with a huge meat cleaver. My healthy respect for her is now tinged with a little fear.
*Maureen Beran and I have a great deal in common, including both having lived in London. But she is much younger and has a lot more energy than I do. This is a good thing for the students and her family, as she is constantly on the run and full of great ideas!
* Brooke Paulsen is any student’s best advocate. She is so dedicated to student success that I could imagine her fighting off a gang just to help a new student register for classes. She is a gentle soul but watch out if you mess with her students!
* Deone Pedersen has more relatives living in Denmark than I have relatives living anywhere. If you ever need to know anything about Denmark, come to the front desk for an insightful, first-hand account.
I have more meetings coming up — Vicki, Melissa, Jennifer, Matt, and Mark. Also, I’ve been talking regularly with Shari, Shari, Susan and will share my “lessons learned” next week.
I wonder what they have learned about me this week?

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.