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With the 2022-23 opening day just one week away, we’re wrapping up our back-to-school series with a Q&A from Barb Rau as she preps for her last semester as dean of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Business (COB). Learn the latest updates from the college as well as some good advice for first-year students (and all of us) about setting values.

What’s new in your college for the upcoming academic year?

The College of Business is welcoming five new faculty members this academic year, and we are very excited to have them on board! We believe they will provide excellent instruction and be wonderful role models for our students.

Benjamin Blake, assistant management and human resources professor, received his doctorate in management and international business from the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma in 2022. His research focuses on strategic and international human resource management, including global mobility, succession planning, careers and work accommodations.
Yinghsua Chao, assistant economics professor, received her doctorate in economics from the Stony Brook University in 2022. Her research interests are macroeconomics, labor and public policy. Currently, she is concentrating on research topics related to the U.S. unemployment insurance program.
Tianfang Li, economics lecturer, completed her doctorate in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2020. She is an applied microeconomist who specializes in topics on labor supply, microfinance, and development economics. She is currently working on projects of causal analysis and machine learning.
Puspa Shah, an assistant professor of management and human resources, received her doctorate in entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Missouri Kansas City. Her areas of research interest include entrepreneurial behaviors and creativity and innovation. She has co-founded a venture that facilitated the growth of small businesses.
Sarah Villaneuva, an assistant professor of management and human resources, completed her doctorate in management from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2022. Her primary academic interests are in the area of organizational behavior and human resources, including compensation equity, human capital theory and workplace performance, with special emphasis on veterans’ and women’s outcomes.

In addition, we welcomed Heather Veeser as the new director of our sales program. Veeser comes to us with loads of sales experience and a connection to our sales program as a past participant. She is working to find companies that would like to partner with us in supporting the development of sales skills in students from all across the University. Many students who are interested in fields within and outside of business could benefit greatly by becoming more comfortable with the principles of selling, choosing their philosophy/approach to selling, and using those skills to support either their own entrepreneurial work or work they might do for an organization. The program is not just geared for becoming “a salesperson” but to support all students who enter businesses or careers that require some component of sales.

What are you personally looking forward to the most about the fall semester?

Barbara Rau

There are always so many exciting things to look forward to but the highest on the list is always welcoming back students and faculty and welcoming new people into the COB family.

This fall we will be able to host candidates for the dean position and learn about their philosophy, vision and goals. We are all anticipating this as a great opportunity to identify a qualified, talented and genuine person to take the college forward and support the University’s mission.

We will be moving our Executive MBA program to the Oshkosh campus and giving those students the opportunity to experience some of the culture and sports events the campus has to offer during their “down” time from the classroom.

Finally, we are excited about the possibilities associated with a closer relationship with the Fox Cities campus as we look for ways to partner both in terms of class delivery and also related to access to entrepreneurship and small business development counseling.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year students about how to succeed at UWO?

I’m more cautious about giving specific advice than I used to be—I guess with age comes wisdom and wisdom guides but does not dictate. However, one piece of advice I do enjoy dispensing to anyone who will listen is something I came across in the book, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.

I would ask incoming first-year students to take a list of values (easily accessible online), print it, cut out the values, and do a paired sorting until they are down to just two that they feel most deeply about and can connect everything else they feel is important. Then I would advise them to use those two values to guide all their decisions and actions in life. It is not easy to simplify your values to just two but no one can remember a list of 10 values to consider when taking personal action. Two is easy.

Personally, I ask myself, “How can I handle this situation in a way that supports growth (my own or others) and compassion (for myself or for others.)” If you live your life guided by your two core values, you will experience less anxiety and self-doubt. You will find yourself seeking greater understanding of what those two values really mean when acted upon in the course of your life. In doing this, you know that you are headed in a direction that supports your sense of what is truly important to you. Mistakes become an opportunity to learn how you can better live within your values. Disagreements and conflicts become an opportunity to exercise your value system or perhaps reflect on whether your values are appropriately defined and aligned with the needs of others you care about.

Share something you learned over summer break.

I love the summer because it gives me time to read. As I kid, I would curl up in bed and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. These days, I’m more apt to listen to a book than to read it, just as a matter of saving time. (Doing the dishes or laundry while listening to a good book is great.)

I listened to several audio books this summer but one that really provided a great deal of insight and opportunity for reflection was, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Like many people my age, my mother is nearing the end of her life and finding the right balance between medicine, which could prolong her life and dignity in dying, is not easy. We don’t always want to look at these decisions until they are upon us and we can’t avoid it. The book is helping me to think about how I want to support my mother at this time in her life as well as how I hope to be supported as I age.

Another book that I am recommending is called, Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab. It is a more practical guide to understanding the importance of boundary setting in personal relationships that provides practical scenarios, examples and language to help one to set and maintain healthy boundaries. This is something that many people struggle with and do not understand very well so I greatly appreciated the practicality of the book.

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