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!

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?


The irreverent (and brilliant and funny) physicist Richard Feynman once said, ““Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

This quote captures my first week, and my plans for my second. I am reading a lot, asking lots of questions, handing out Lego mini-figures (inspired by my recent trip to Denmark) and overall  doing a seriously unsystematic job of learning. I am a student, studying hard to better understand how we can better serve the other students in our building and around our state.

Lego Mini

My Lego Mini-Figure — Cleopatra?


Sometime in the future I will bring some discipline and structure to my thinking and study, but in the meantime, I’m following Feynman’s advice. If you would like to learn more about him, visit this page:

First Day on the Job

Today was my first “formal” day on the job. Although I have been thinking about the transition and the challenges of the role for almost a month, today was the day when my desktop computer, office art, family pictures, and books were moved. Even though the Undergraduate Programs Office is only 2 floors away from my old office, and it’s in the same building where I’ve worked in for 16 years, it felt like a big move. Okay, it was a big move in the sense that I have a ton of stuff and I could not have moved it all in a week if I tried. I am grateful to Rick and Fletcher, our office wizards, for transplanting everything in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

I was welcomed by a series of warm conversations and chocolate zucchini cake (which was surprisingly terrific thanks to Brooke and her 3-year sous-chef protégé). A great day all around and further confirmation that this is a team filled with gracious and hard-working people.

For the rest of this post, I want to say a few words about Tippie alum Jason Sissel, pictured here, whom I had the chance to visit with in San Francisco last week. He was the first former student (or student for that matter) that I met with after signing on to be Associate Dean. It was fitting to have lunch with Jason that sunny day.


I met Jason when he was a student seeking experiences in research to broaden his skill set. He was in the inaugural Hawkinson Scholar class and was always looking for opportunities to learn and grow. That passion to learn took him to Wall Street where he had a successful career at Morgan Stanley and Robert W. Baird & Co. Even these challenges weren’t enough, and Jason left Wall Street to start his own non-profit organization. His organization, Endure to Cure (, supports athletes in their efforts to perform small miracles for children afflicted with cancer. The organization’s website says it best — this organization was founded, “… to contribute, inspire, and give hope to kids who suffer from various forms of pediatric cancer.”

Jason was in San Francisco with his wife, Shana, to participate in the San Francisco marathon and accompany a group of kids and their parents to the San Francisco Giants batting practice and game. Jason is more than fulfilling the mission of his organization. He is an inspiration to me, the faculty, staff, and students here at Tippie, and so many others around the country. If Jason can walk away from a successful job on Wall Street, then I can, at the very least, walk away from a traditional faculty job to help serve the Tippie community.

Getting ready

I am honored to be taking over Lon’s position, a transition that was just finalized this week while I am away from campus. Technically I don’t start until next week so I’m sitting in an office at San Francisco State University. I just finished a meeting with the Associate Dean here and am looking out the window at a beautiful campus quad with crooked evergreen trees and California wild flowers, but my heart is back in Iowa City. When I return next week, I’ll post my first “official” blog entry as Associate Dean.

In the meantime, know that I have been deeply committed to Tippie since my first day on campus in 1998 and that my heart and mind are already back there, digging into the challenge of this critical job for our college. Feel free to comment with a question or suggestion for how I might use this blog. I already know that my first formal entry, to be posted once I’m in the office next week, will be about a Tippie alum and friend, Jason Sissel, whom I reconnected with while here in California. Jason used to work on Wall Street but I doubt you can guess what he is doing now. Stay tuned to find out….

I am Leaving the Tippie College of Business for the “Big Dance”

Sadly this is my 909th and final blog post.  As of July 1, 2014, I started working for the University as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of University College.  The Tippie College has started a search to find my successor as Associate Dean for the undergraduate program.  During a meeting last week, I ran into President Mason who welcomed me to the “big dance.”  Although I look forward to my new job, I will certainly miss Tippie, our students, and my staff and faculty colleagues.  Tippie has been home for me since 1999.  I guess someone will have to take my picture out of the Undergraduate Program Office window.

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.