John Elliott


Advice for Selecting a College: Shop for Best Fit, Not ‘Designer’ Name

“Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” is the title of an outstanding book by New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni.

After researching higher education in the United States, Bruni discovers and shares anecdotes of students who did not get into their first-choice colleges, and were better off as a result. His conclusion is uplifting.

Today, in our country, there are an amazing number of strong education opportunities that will serve students well. Yet students and parents spend too much time, money, and effort, coupled with stress and tears, seeking acceptance to the perfect, most-desired school. Continue Reading


The Small, Happy Life

I have previously shared my thoughts about graduation speeches and mentioned several excellent examples.  In that blog, I talked about the range of topics and advice in those speeches but I just read an essay by David Brooks—NYT, May 29, 2015, “The Small, Happy Life.’’—that I think enriches the discussion. David invited his readers to “send in essays describing their purpose in life and how they found it.”  He “expected most contributors would follow the commencement speech clichés of our high achieving culture; dream big; set ambitious goals; try to change the world.”Continue Reading


Coaches, Leading and Talent

Some may not like sports as a metaphor for life, and if you fall in that category, you might want to stop here.  But I think it can be useful, and I want to talk about three examples in sport and draw inferences to life.

I am the dean of the business school at UConn, so not surprisingly, I cite our Geno Auriemma as an example of leadership of the highest order.  Geno has coached the women’s basketball team since 1985 and, in the process, has garnered 10 NCAA championships. His championship record is unsurpassed among women’s coaches, and tied with legendary UCLA men’s coach John Wooden.  Geno headlines the “Geno Auriemma UConn Leadership Conference’’ and invariably talks about his experiences as a coach, and the teams he has been privileged to train. Continue Reading


Graduation, Commencement, Celebration and Satisfaction

It is that time of year: graduation, commencement, celebration and satisfaction.  At UConn, we find myriad ways to celebrate our students, by engaging graduates, their families and friends, our alumni, our faculty and staff.  As dean, I find I pay attention to what others say in these settings and invariably learn in the process.

This year, Professor Robert Shiller, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Economics and a Professor at Yale, spoke at our undergraduate commencement and received an honorary degree from UConn.  His message was powerful and important and dealt with “Business and the Good Society.”  He chose to remind our business graduates, that while some give business a bad rap, it is an engine of growth and promise.  Good business propels a rising tide that lifts all boats.  He found a nice balance between engaging our thoughts and our emotions.  He challenged all of us to engage with our world and to better it.  His talk is worth a read.

Let me share three other speeches that I consider landmarks: Continue Reading