Stetson Think Tank Retreat

On March 19th – 20th, 2014, Stetson University – Center at Celebration hosted the Stetson Think Tank Retreat, a group of experts in their respective fields that provide a great gauge, and source of influence, to help guide our continued innovation and relevancy. They have increased our innovative and strategic thinking exponentially along with enhancing our current and future program deliverables.

Clay Maxwell

Clay Maxwell

Clay Maxwell, from Peer Insight, facilitated the two-day event using a design-thinking format. Clay is a gifted enabler of organizational growth, with extensive experience in corporate innovation, human-centered design and entrepreneurship. He has led innovation and service design work across numerous industries with clients such as Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, Colgate-Palmolive, Emerson and Merck. Clay brings a capacity for sharp analysis as well as keen creative insights. He complements our business strategy offering with his analytic rigor, as well as his ability to wrangle the numerous moving parts inherent in taking a service offering to market.

During the two days, aspirational thinking and a leadership development approach were the cornerstone

Think Tank Group

Think Tank Group

to specifically building upon the 16 previous months of collaborative work and efforts of the initial Think Tank members of 9 which now has evolved to twelve creative thought-leaders in every business segment across the US and internationally.  A result of the work was evident! We created a stronger connection between the Think Tank members and key University stakeholders that would assist in our efforts of elevating our executive programs into something much broader and relevant for today’s business executive.

Greg McCan

Greg McCann

Greg McCann, co-creator of the Think Tank said that the Think Tank was created with the intent to help us in three ways. First it was meant to give us an international perspective on what leadership development is and could be. Secondly, we wanted to further enhance the practice of incorporating ongoing innovation into our EMBA and all of our graduate programs. Third, we wanted to further explore how innovation in the graduate curriculum could inform executive education programs we offer to the business community.

Spreading Cheer from Orlando to Thailand

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The Stetson Executive MBA experience is about much more than your academic life. The cohort environment creates an instant network and family atmosphere in which we take every opportunity to celebrate events in our students’ professional and personal lives!


This month, Executive MBA student, Ray Harpel, in Cohort 10 got married in Thailand!


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Ray and Nan with the money tree!

To celebrate this special moment, the cohort prepared a surprise celebration during lunch before they took off. The festivities included wedding decor, cake, and a money tree to help send these “newlyweds” off in style to Thailand for their wedding ceremony.


Congratulations Ray and Nan! We wish you all the best in this next phase of your life!

Ray & Nan













Melania Lavezzi, EMBA Class of 2010, Releases a Children’s Book

Melania Lavezzi and Melbi, who served as inspiration for the book.

Melania Lavezzi, a Celebration resident and a graduate of the Executive MBA Program in Cohort 6, releases her first children’s book in both paperback and an e-book version available now on Amazon.On December 20th, you can download the Kindle edition for free for 1 day!  Go to and search “Mom, dad, can we get a dog?” Click on the Kindle edition and enjoy with your family! In addition, the book can be borrowed from Kindle owner’s library until the end of February.

Book Description: “Mom, dad, can we get a dog” is written by a dog trainer and is the story of two children, CJ and Sofia, that want a dog.  Their parents know that owning a dog is a long-term commitment. For this reason, the wise parents try to expose the children to the canine world as much as possible. During their adventures, the family learns how to behave around dogs in order to be safe, how to have fun with dogs and how to be responsible dog owners. At the end of the book there is a quiz that reinforces the learning experience.

Congratulations to Melania for this incredible accomplishment.

Alumni and students, please keep sharing your successes with the EMBA team. Your fellow hatters, cohorts, faculty, and entire Stetson “family” enjoy celebrating with you.

Executive MBA Cohort 9 Visits Deland Campus

Cohort 9 creates memories in Deland – Next visit will reward their MBA accomplishments at Graduation, May 2013

Stetson University’s Executive MBA class of 2013 visited the Deland campus, a ritual that occurs at least once during their 19-month graduate program.  This year, cohort 9 had the opportunity to collaborate with the Roland George Investment students, enjoy a conversation with Provost Paul during a catered lunch in the Carlton Union, and further their graduate studies by interacting with 3 faculty members in the fields of Finance, Integrated Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Strategy.

Coincidentally, the Deland City holiday parade was in full swing, so as the Executive MBA students toured the beautiful campus, the sights and sounds of holiday music, laughter, and joy filled the air.  Crystal Koepke, Walt Disney World, manager shared “this experience was one of the highlights of my graduate experience.  Being able to participate in strategic discussions, seeing how investment decisions are made by the Roland George students, and seeing Stetson University’s Main Campus gives me a greater appreciation for what I’m about to accomplish – my MBA”.

The Roland George Institute Program experience was dynamic, said Wendy Lowe, Assistant Director.  The Director, Dr. Ma and his undergraduate students, prepared student research on 3 global companies that was presented to the Executive MBA students and Board of Trustees.  This information was evaluated and a final determination of the viability of the students’ recommendation to purchase shares based on their findings was made.  The Executive MBA students were extremely impressed with the high quality of the research conducted, the apparent confidence and ability of these undergraduates to field and address questions from executive level students and finally the conclusive process that is conducted in the Roland George Investments Program.  David LaRocque, Senior IT analyst at Genworth Financial, enjoyed returning to his Alma Mater.  David shared, “I had a great sense of nostalgia and pride returning to campus as a graduate student with my Cohort.  I look forward to returning to Deland in May to graduate with my Cohort”.  David will officially become a “Double Hatter”, meaning he will have both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stetson University.

Provost Paul shared numerous opportunities to stay connected to Stetson University upon graduation in May 2013 including career services, participating in additional course/class offerings, attending alumni events, enjoying football tailgating and games, and by continuing to share their “Stetson story” with others.  Students were encouraged to continually challenge themselves to learn, guide, and engage in the community to be “Lifelong Learners”.  By engaging in such activities, continued professional and personal growth will occur and have a profound impact.

Executive Students “Support Systems” Impact Success

 Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 10 students participated in our 1st “Family Day” in late October, co-hosted by Dr. McCann and Dr. DeMoss and the Executive MBA team.  The event was held for two purposes:

1) To be introduced to the cohort’s “support system”

Pablo Chavez and his wife, Kristen

2) To hear from both students and their respective “support system” the impact the Management & Leadership course has had on their personal and professional lives over the past 2 months.

The Management and Leadership course, scheduled at the beginning of the EMBA program, provides each student the opportunity to craft a Personal and Professional Development Plan while receiving faculty facilitation, expertise, and suggestions from an “executive coach”.  The students will use this Plan as they practice these goals and work/life behaviors during their 19-month EMBA Journey and beyond.  During this process, each student noted the significance of their “support system” and how these individuals will be instrumental in their practice, journey, and overall success. Therefore, we felt that it was extremely important to wrap these members into our larger “learning community” as quickly as possible!

The students’ “support system” arrived and shared lunch and a discussion regarding their signifi

Judy Ashbrook and her daughter, Kelsey

cant other’s growth since starting their Stetson Executive MBA program on August 10, 2012.  Guests included spouses, fiancées, children, cousins, mentors, alumni from their respective workplace, and even an undergraduate professor, Dr. Allan Hall, who recently retired to Celebration and was the instructor to one of our EMBA graduate students. 

This event was definitely another “learning opportunity” in which all participants benefited greatly. 

  • Students introduced their peers to their support system
  • “Support system” members felt validated in their role as “coach” and “supporter” and the significant appreciation of their student
  • Stetson course facilitators, Dr. Greg McCann & Dr. Michelle DeMoss, were able to glean progress made based on the students diligent efforts and ongoing “practice”

 Wendy Lowe, Assistant Director, shared her understanding and significance of the “support system’s” role in the EMBA experience having once played that role herself.  Wendy encouraged family members to stay involved and as a result of this time together, the EMBA team will be formalizing the “Support System’s” participation in upcoming events with all current students and their families and future cohorts.

New EMBA Focuses On More Than Education

Dr. Greg McCann leads a discussion with the executive students and their “support system” members during “Family Day”.

Begin with “know thyself,” the ancient Socratic wisdom.

Blend with an array of business knowledge–innovative, theoretical, practical, academic. Stir in a diverse team of executives with close attachments and extremely personal commitments to success. Mix well with customized ingredients for human development and just a dash of boot camp intensity.

That powerful recipe is creating a “new” Executive MBA Program in the School of Business Administration, one that is changing lives and will produce exceptional individuals charged with remarkable energy and knowledge to focus on career success. Now in its tenth year, the EMBA Program is being infused with potent new elements to offer students something beyond “mere education,” something leadership is calling “development.”

“The (new) EMBA Program is broader, more inclusive and holistic than merely education,” say two top business professors who helped create the changes. “Development,” unlike usual classroom education, requires working with each practitioner to craft a values-based definition of success. It begins with one-on-one coaching and transitions to a team effort integrated throughout the 19-month program.

“EMBA professionals achieve success as they define it,” said Dr. Greg McCann, director of the school’s Graduate Council and EMBA faculty member. He and Dr. Michelle DeMoss, Marketing Department chair, have created changes to stay abreast of the needs of executives in today’s global business universe.

“We want to affirm the program’s strengths while building new and effective elements aimed at individual student needs,” said Dr. Thomas V. Schwarz, dean of Business Administration. “Personal coaching and mentoring are potent elements that can help catapult careers and give our school wide exposure for its innovative and intimate design and culture.”

The holistic approach develops the whole person, personally and professionally, because the two aspects of life are highly interdependent. Building and sustaining strong long-term relationships encourage quick response to individual needs.
A major linchpin of the program begins on the first day when participants start creating their Professional Development Plans, a month-long process that demands intensive, insightful review of one’s character, reputation, values, emotions, definition of success and a step-by-step action plan.

The long, detailed document becomes the catalyst for vital customized elements of the program energized through executive coaching sessions that guide and monitor progress. Every student is matched by commitment, personality, professional experience and expertise with an EMBA alumni mentor. Frequent mentor/mentee meetings lend constant guidance, feedback and wisdom to facilitate growth and development. Consultations with visionaries and global leaders will guide curriculum, rigor and relevancy of the program.

“Our intention,” said McCann and DeMoss, “is to empower each person to have a life-changing experience that leads to their development as a person, as a leader, and as a member of a team.” Cohorts are collaborative, not competitive. They share the core goals, learning values, reputation and behavior in communication, conflict resolution and mirror workplace teamwork. Members hold one another accountable. Success is shared.

Families are drawn into the EMBA experience to increase the comfort level and help create a sense of community for everyone involved. Advice for success is shared in discussions about the ripple effect of the program on practitioner/students, significant others and everyone involved in the process.

The members of Cohort 10 began work in August and will complete the program in spring 2014. Noticeable changes in their personal and working lives are already evident to them and others, they say.

“This approach to development and creative advancement is worth the personal investment,” said Peter Platt, a cohort member from Sanford and senior vice president of Jones Trading Institutional Services in Heathrow. “I am more than willing to pay for Stetson’s program.”

“This is the program,” said cohort student Mayra Santiago of Kissimmee, a workforce planning and leadership development manager for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It has changed my life.”

The EMBA Program is based at the Stetson Center at Celebration, Florida. Classes are offered on alternating Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit the EMBA Web site, call Wendy Lowe at (321) 939-7603 or email at Ask about informational sessions held several times a year.

by Ronald Williamson

Michelson returning to teaching

Dr. Stuart Michaelson is returning to teaching after three years of serving as director of the Executive MBA program.

Dr. Stuart Michelson, Roland & Sarah George Professor of Finance, announced he will be stepping aside from the Stetson University Executive MBA director role effective July 1, 2012, and is excited to get back to the classroom after spending the last three years as the dean of the School of Business Administration.

He will return to pursue his passion in educating undergraduate and graduate students in corporate finance and investments. During fall 2012, Dr. Michelson will be on sabbatical, continuing his academic research in behavioral finance and portfolio theory and serving as an editor for the academic journal, Financial Services Review.

Under his leadership, the academics, organization and structure of the program were enhanced and strengthened. Students on the Celebration campus not only increased their business acumen, but they also traveled the world: Dubai, Hong Kong/Vietnam, Johannesburg/Cape Town, and Istanbul/Budapest. Immersion in such destinations increased the students’ understanding of international business and its application to their own corporate careers. The cultural experiences and opportunity to bond with the cohort have made a lifelong impact. Stetson Executive MBA cohorts continue to thrive as they collaborate and partner in their Executive MBA journey.

Dr. Michelson, while serving as director, notes his fondness of all those involved in the program and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to work with the talented executive students. His dedication will be missed but not forgotten.

The new dean of the School of Business, Thomas Schwarz, will be meeting with our current Executive MBA students on July 13, 2012, and eagerly awaits the opportunity to continue the Stetson Executive MBA brand of quality, service and unparalleled support.

Schwarz to visit Celebration

You're invited to meet Dr. Schwarz during a special lunch, July 13.

Dr. Thomas Schwarz, the new dean of the Stetson University School of Business, started on June 1. He will be visiting the Celebration campus and Cohort 9 on July 13. Alumni are invited to join Cohort 9 for lunch and to meet him. Simply RSVP to Wendy Lowe, Stetson University Executive MBA program coordinator, at Schwarz will also be invited to our next Advisory Council meeting.

Below is an article posted by Stetson University when Schwarz’s appointment was first announced.

Schwarz to join Business School in June

March 08, 2012

Stetson University has selected Dr. Thomas V. Schwarz, professor and the Rick Muth Family Endowed Chair in Family Business at California State University Fullerton, as the new dean of Stetson’s School of Business Administration, effective in June.

Schwarz has extensive professional experience in both higher education and business. He has held an endowed professorship in Family Business at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business Administration since 2009. Before that he was director for nine years of the Family Owned Business Institute (FOBI) and the Center for Entrepreneurship at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 2002, he has also served as a visiting professor of entrepreneurship at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Decision Sciences Graduate Program, in Athens, Greece.

“Dr. Schwarz will focus on advancing excellence and defining distinction in our business programs,” said Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Paul, Stetson provost and vice president for academic affairs. ”Tom brings national and international knowledge, experience, and reputation, as well as strong strategic leadership skills and compelling vision for 21st century business education. We are thrilled to have him join our dynamic learning community.”

Schwarz earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in finance from Florida State University and also attended FSU for his MBA and undergraduate degrees. He completed post-doctoral studies in international business at the University of South Carolina and in family business advising at the Family Firm Institute.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join such a prestigious institution both for its outstanding history and its bright future,” Schwarz said. “Stetson lies at the center of growth and opportunity, and along with its staunch alumni, students, staff and faculty, its future is very bright indeed. It’s clear that these people care, and their desire is for excellence.”

Prior to joining Grand Valley in 2000, Schwarz worked in senior management and as treasurer for a family-owned manufacturing business and as an entrepreneur/owner of several other family firms. He taught finance at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and also held positions with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and in the futures industry in Chicago.

Schwarz is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in the fields of family business and entrepreneurship. His excellence and regard in the field resulted in the prestigious award of Fellow Status from the Family Firm Institute in 2010. He previously served on the Body of Knowledge Committee of the Family Firm Institute and was the Research Program Co-Director for the Boston 2004 and the Chicago 2005 conferences. He is also a founding co-editor of the organization’s publication, the Family Firm Practitioner. He has been a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the Family Firm Institute since 2009. He has served with the Family Enterprise Research Conference (FERC) since 2007 and was 2011 Conference co-host. Schwarz also received the Teaching Excellence Award 2003, 2004, 2006 from Athens University of Economics and Business; and an Honorable Mention Award from the 2007 Family Enterprise Research Conference.

His research interests include international family business, entrepreneurship and finance. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Finance, Family Business Review, International Journal of Emerging Markets, Journal of Banking and Finance, The International Small Business Journal, Journal of Asian Business, as well as others.  He is co-editor of the recent release of an 11-volume set titled, “Culturally-Sensitive Models of Family Business: A Compendium using the GLOBE Paradigm.”

Schwarz will succeed Dr. Stuart Michelson, who plans to return to the Stetson classroom in his position as the Sarah and Roland George Professor of Finance.

Brain food for business executives

Nutritional therapist Alli Godbold has made it her mission to educate people about food and how it affects their bodies — brains included! She compiled the following list of “Brain food for business executives” for students like you. What follows is an excerpt of the Top 10 brain foods and a link to the full article.

Brain food for business executives

As a busy executive, you’ll know the importance of making the most of each hour of the day. But when you add studying for an Executive MBA to the mix of work and family commitments, there’s an even greater need to make every hour count.While studying for an Executive MBA is an exciting time of your professional career, it can also be stressful. There are the challenges of meeting deadlines, organizing time into an already busy schedule for group projects, and for many students, the requirements of travel as part of the Executive MBA program. Looking after your health and well-being is therefore paramount. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet will ensure your body – and mind – are in good shape to cope with the challenges of the Executive MBA. QS Top Executive gets top tips from nutritional therapist Alli Godbold on the best foods for busy executives.

1. The power of protein

Eat good quality protein foods at every meal. Ideally eat eggs for breakfast and chicken or fish for lunch and supper. Protein helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced which sustains energy.

2. Grab a healthy snack

Snack on raw nuts and seeds instead of biscuits and crisps. Nuts and seeds provide important nutrients, essential fats, protein and fibre – a far more nutritious alternative.

3. Avoid the caffeine

Drink herbal teas and water rather than caffeinated drinks. Tea, coffee and cola drinks cause energy levels to yo-yo up and down.

4. Keep hydrated

Drinking lots of water (including that in herbal teas) helps you to stay hydrated which is essential for good focus.

5. An egg a day

Eggs provide good levels of the nutrient choline. This is needed for the manufacture of acetyl-choline which is the neurotransmitter in the brain involved in memory.

Continue reading the rest of the article here.

Princeton Review lists Stetson among the nation’s best

Stetson University’s School of Business Administration has been named one of the nation’s best business schools in a new guidebook released Oct. 11 by The Princeton Review.

Stetson's business school is among the top in the nation, according to The Princeton Review.

The education services company compiles its guidebook of top business schools annually based on input from more than 19,000 students in Master of Business Administration programs accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, as well as statistical data received from the institutions.

The new 2012 edition of the book, The Best 294 Business Schools, includes a profile of Stetson’s School of Business Administration that includes information on academics, student life and environment, the admissions process, statistical data and career placement services. Students highlighted Stetson’s small class size, personalized education, accessible and supportive faculty, modern facilities, flexible schedules for working professionals, and global focus, including opportunities to study business abroad during short or semester-long trips.

It highlights Stetson’s traditional MBA, Executive MBA and accelerated MBA/Juris Doctor (law) degrees. The profile notes the proximity of the university’s Central Florida campuses in DeLand and Gulfport/St. Petersburg and satellite center in Celebration to metropolitan areas including Orlando, Daytona Beach and Tampa Bay.

“Stetson University’s School of Business Administration graduate programs are designed to bring post-graduate professional academics to the highest level,” said Dean of Business Administration Stuart Michelson. “Designed for both current and future business professionals, the curricula are focused on the real-world challenges and opportunities facing businesses today.

“The graduate faculty is committed to delivering the highest quality instruction in an active-learning, engaged environment. Small class sizes and professors who provide insight and an academic focus are key features of the Stetson experience,” Michelson said. “The international focus of our curriculum prepares the business professional to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global business environment.”

The Princeton Review profile on Stetson includes comments directly from students. “The atmosphere is collaborative, as most students are also ‘interested in diversifying their skills in both business and networking,’” the guidebook said. “For professionals the atmosphere is supportive, and students find they ‘can relate with classmates, since many also have full-time jobs.’”

Of the more than 13,000 business schools worldwide, Stetson’s School of Business Administration is one of only 177 that hold AACSB accreditation in the fields of business and accounting, and one of only 37 private colleges and universities that hold the accreditation in both fields.

Read the full press release here.