Fuqua Faculty Conversations

In addition to nurturing business minds and expanding global thinking, Fuqua professors conduct ongoing, valuable research. However, like most academic research, the circulation is often limited to academic journals. So when Fuqua's Development and Alumni Relations team asked Professor Shane Dikolli to share his research with alumni, he jumped at the opportunity.

In response to the Alumni Council's initiative to provide more lifelong learning opportunities, the school created Fuqua Faculty Conversations (Read more about this here. The Dean's Office selected Dikolli as professor for the inaugural session.

"I was excited to act as a conduit for connecting faculty research with alumni," Dikolli said. "I had the opportunity to present alumni with knowledge in a unique way that they probably hadn't seen before."

Dikolli already had a presentation on his subject, "The Effect of CEO Traits on Firm Policies and Outcomes," but to make it most accessible to alumni, he transformed it into video format for Fuqua Faculty Conversations. Dikolli opted for a 60-Minutes style video to showcase his research and its connection to other research happening at Fuqua.

"The multimedia team was very helpful and patient," Dikolli said. "I know I gained a lot from it. I gained knowledge, and by performing in front of a camera, I have become a better presenter."

The initial video was posted online for alumni to watch as a "pre-reading" assignment. A week later, Dikolli hosted an interactive session that was streamed live online. Alumni submitted questions via e-mail prior to the event and via Twitter using the hash tag #fuquaalumni during the live session. Dikolli responded to questions and expanded on his research to further the conversation.

"Even though I didn't actually see or talk to them, I really enjoyed interacting with the alumni," Dikolli said. "We're an institution that is always trying to create knowledge and add to the stock of knowledge. Fuqua Faculty Conversations was a great learning tool and an efficient way to maintain the connection between the school and the alumni."

Since the videos were posted, Dikolli has observed a tremendous increase in interest for his research. So far, he has seen 14 separate press mentions. Dikolli's research and the associated Fuqua Faculty Conversation have led to local as well as international stories in Denmark, Canada, and Australia.

"We're also seeing good alumni participation around the world," said Katie Thomasson, Associate Director of Alumni Relations and manager of the Fuqua Faculty Conversations project. "It's an interesting way to get research content to alumni anywhere in the world, and provide these lifelong learning opportunities outside of Durham."

Since Dikolli's Fuqua Faculty Conversation, Development and Alumni Relations has hosted bi-monthly sessions with several professors in a similar format: a pre-recorded video followed by a live session. Visit the Fuqua Faculty Conversations website to view Dikolli's and other presenters' videos.

With more than 6,000 views for the 2012 videos and positive feedback from the community, the school will continue hosting Fuqua Faculty Conversations, during alternating months with the Career Management Center's alumni career workshops.

Although Fuqua Faculty Conversations are primarily for alumni, Thomasson encourages alumni to share these within their personal networks.

"This research is relevant to people's professional lives," she said. "Some alumni have viewed the sessions in conference rooms with their teams and colleagues at work. It is a learning opportunity for businesses, and it allows Fuqua to showcase our world-class faculty and the educational experience."

"The Fuqua Faculty Conversations are a terrific opportunity for the school to be able to say to alumni, 'We still care about you,'" Dikolli said. "We want you to share in the knowledge we disseminate, and Fuqua is proud of our alumni and faculty."