Episode 29: How to Instill Pride and Keep Employee Morale with Dr. Sherry Rankins

Who is Dr. Sherry Rankins and the key takeaways in this episode?

Dr. Sherry Rankins is the Associate Vice Chancellor at University of Arkansas, Little Rock, where she currently works on  Student Success, Retention and Online Extended Learning. She received her PhD in Rhetoric, Composition and Linguistics at Arizona State University.

In this interview, Dr. Rankins shared her thoughts on various culture related topics and how it relates to her role. We’ve discussed:

  • Her personal journey and how she got to where she is now
  • What inspired her to pursue her studies and her career in education
  • Her thoughts on culture and its impact in company morale
  • Why she thinks companies and businesses need to pay more attention to their employees
  • The role of millennials and why she takes a different kind of approach in engaging them

The Questions

[12:35] How do we engage the employee morale and encompass the millennials that you’re now inundated with every day, because we don’t see them like you see them?
Answer: I look at millennials just a little bit separate from how do we engage. And I think the first, the thing that you said on that is morale. And I think that for me as an administrator, it’s always been about grassroots. I believe that everyone should be involved in the decision-making that impacts the culture and the climate of their positions. And there are some things that we have the power to have other people help make decisions about.

[21:28] What you feel company culture is and what you’re going to deliver to us, out of the education system?
Answer: I think that this word can be defined in so many different kinds of ways. But I see it as the climate of the institution, and it’s what makes people want to work here. And it makes students want to come here. So it’s the synergy that you expel from the institution. And it comes from the people, and it’s evident in the space. But it’s the pride you see in the students. And so, whenever you’re at the grocery store or whenever you go to the beach, look at the 20 year olds and see if they have on their college-wear. Those are the students who come from a place that have got really strong company culture. And how is the institution instilling the pride of the institution in them? And do they understand the traditions of the school and have they had the opportunity to be a part of the history of the institution?

[26:13] What is the most common mistake you see emerging businesses and entrepreneurs make as we try to bring your students into the workforce?
Answer: Not paying attention to their employees. I think sometimes we get so set on what the goal of our institution, the function of our institution. And we forget to think about the people who, not only we serve, but the people that do the work for us. How do we as a company take care of our people? And that goes from the individuals who service the buildings to the individuals who work in cashier services. Are people happy to work at your place? And if they’re not, why not? And what can you as the person who is the agent of change, what could you do to make that better? Often times, it costs nothing. People need to be appreciative and need to feel appreciated. And if we’re not greeting folks and saying, “good morning,” and asking them how they’re doing, they’re going to feel devalued. And I think it’s the biggest mistake we make is we don’t value employees as the individual human beings, and pay attention to what’s happening in their life and “congratulations on their baby,” and “I’m sorry about the loss of your mother.” They’re human beings. And they’re coming to a space where they have a lot of choices to earn money, to pay their bills.

Go To Quote for Inspiration

Book Recommendations:

  • Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

What Dr. Sherry Rankins Wants Her Company to BE:

  • BE Innovative
  • BE Empowering
  • BE the Game-changer

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Dr. Sherry Rankins:

Connect with John on

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

John: Dr. Robertson, welcome to BE Culture Radio.

Sherry: Hi, thank you for having me.

John: I am just tickled to death to have you on our show. Just so my listeners know, I have known this lady her entire life. And I was so proud when she said, “Sure, I’ll come on your show.” So I knew her before she was Dr. Sherry Rankins-Robertson PhD. She is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Retention and Online Extended Learning in the University of Arkansas system. Wow! That’s a mouthful, Doctor.

Sherry: It’s a newly appointed title. I’ve been in this position for the last couple of months. And before that, I came to the university as the Writing Program Coordinator. And so, what the WPA does is I oversee all freshman compositions. So that was my previous appointment at this institution.

John: That’s pretty cool. And just so everybody knows, her mother has been one of my life-long mentors, my entire life. And so your mom will be glad to know that we’ve called you Dr. Rankins-Robertson four times now in the opening moment. So I’ll keep on calling you, “Sherry,” now.

Sherry: Yeah, I appreciate that actually. It’s uncomfortable. So yeah, “Sherry” is the best for me.

John: Okay. Now, Sherry, before we get started, can you share with us your story about you?

Sherry: Sure. Well, I received my PhD at Arizona State University in Rhetoric, Composition and Linguistics. And I also worked at Arizona State as a non-tenure track faculty member for about eight years. I built family writing programs there along with prison education programs and a business writing program. And then, some colleagues and I built an award-winning first year composition program that is all online for ASU Online. And then, I came to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock which is actually where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. So I returned to my home institution to work as administrator. And I was really thrilled by that. Because when I went to get a PhD, my hope was always to get a job like this at a place like this. And so, it felt really like coming home to a dream job.

John: Okay. You’ve reached the pinnacle of your career.  You’ve done great. But what we want to know, we want to know about you and what made you the woman you are today, the professional you are today? Because it started long ago, because I’ve watched you grow up.

Sherry: Yeah, so I had the opportunity to become a young mother when I was a freshman in college. And I became mother to Madeline, who is now a freshman in college. And I think that whenever life provides you the opportunity to bring in—let me think about that for a second—to be the ambassador of another human being at such a young age, it takes a lot of tenacity and persistence. So during my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I worked three jobs and my family was critical in helping me take care of Madeline. And so, work ethic has always been as important as any other value set in my home when growing up. And so you had to pull your bootstraps up and get to work and stay more focused. And I think that that is what has put me on this path that I’m on. I think all the time, if I hadn’t had Madeline at 18, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am right now. And a lot of young mothers may think something different than that, but I know for a fact that she gave me a drive and something higher, a goal, to take good care of her. And I know oftentimes, when children see their parents succeed, they sometimes think, “That’s where I’ll move to.” And so, I always wanted to move the bar higher and so Madeline felt that. Anything in her life that she wanted, she would have. And before I became her mother, I always wanted to be a college professor and be married and have a child. I just did it a little bit out of order, but I still was able to do all of those things.

John: I’m not sure there are rules for order, Sherry. And this is a cultural show, and I want to ask you, as it sounds like you had a tremendous culture around you – because if people see you today, here you are, an Associate Vice Chancellor in a major university. You’re married to a golf pro, by the way, he’s a very good guy and a good golfer as well. Madeline is an astounding young lady and much like her mother. But there is more to it than that. You just didn’t come out of the box assembled. There was a culture around you as you’ve talked about. And let me just dig in a little bit. What was that culture?

Sherry: My father had this incredible work ethic. And my mother—I say this a lot, and maybe because you know her, you can appreciate that—but she raised us all like little boys, even though two of us were girls. She believed in “Rise and shine, and make things happen in the world.” There was no real excuse. So she raised the bar high. And sometimes, that has been a challenge because when you raise the bar so high, there has to be an opportunity to reach that and have accolades, and then continuing to raise the bar. But I know that she did it with the very best of intentions because she had big dreams for us, and she wanted it for us. And so, I’m grateful to have individuals who invested a tremendous amount of resources into my education. And education was the mantra at my home. It’s what would change your path. My father came out of a blue collar family, where he worked his way through his company. And he knew that education would provide me the opportunity to have a different starting point. And so, I’m grateful to both my mother and father for those attributes they’ve given me. But I have an incredible brother and sister too, and as someone who has siblings, you know that you come inside that culture with those individuals and they drive you just as much as you’re being driven by any other external source. And they support you and love you and see you along the way. And so, back to what has made me, I remember a particular moment in time where I was delivering the news to my parents that, as a freshman in college, I was going to be a mother. And my sister was my advocate. She was the one who was the champion of “Sherry needs to continue to go to school.” And so I’m always grateful for the guidance that she has given me. And my brother is logical and he helps me make good decisions. And so, I feel like I was given a really good team to start out on life. And I think I’ve built a pretty good team for myself. My husband, he is the yin to my yang. He is very calm and giving and loving, and I’m headstrong and moving 190 miles an hour. So I think it has a lot to do with not so much just what you do in your work life, but also the people you surround yourself in your personal life. And I’m grateful to have good family and friends who love me and care about me. So I think those things are important part of your individual culture as a human being.

John: Well, as I like to say, that’s your tribe, Sherry. That’s what makes you who you are. If you have a good tribe, that tribe supports you and carries you. Now, I want to change gears a little bit because I want to jump into culture. And I want to talk about the culture at the university you’re currently at.

Sherry: Yeah.

John: And I want you to tell us a little bit about that. How is it reflected across the student body and how is it reflected in the interaction with the faculty?

Sherry: So before talking specifically about our culture here, I just want to acknowledge that all universities are so very different in terms of culture. And I’ve worked in three different university settings and they all had different kinds of cultures. But oftentimes your older universities, those are the places where you’re going to see things like statues and buildings with people’s names on them. They have oftentimes more of a hierarchical culture. Things oftentimes happen a little bit more top-down and change is really hard in a culture like that, because it’s deep-rooted and it’s been that way for a long time. And so, when I arrived at this institution, I think we were pressured because I kept saying, “But why is it that way?” And the answer was always, “Because we’ve always done it that way.” And I don’t mean to be a resister, but I am a resister in instances when it doesn’t make sense. “It’s not good for our people, why are we doing it?” And so, I think that at our institution, there is a little bit of residual – that kind of culture. There are some other cultures that exist within our institution and other institutions that mimic these kinds of cultures. And those are ad hoc cultures that are more programmatic. You’d see a problem, you’re trying to respond to a problem, and we have several programs here at our institution where there is that ad hoc culture where people come together to serve the needs. And so, I think you see a lot of that oftentimes at community colleges. Things are very fluid and they’re oftentimes nimble and they change fairly easily. And I worked in a community college when I started my career. And then, sometimes within an individual office, you’re going to see something more of a familial culture. And I think our institution actually recently had a report that was written about us. And we had more of that familial culture. And I think that there’s some good  in that. People take care of each other and they care about each other. I think sometimes the familial culture can hurt an institution in the sense that, not that people are looking out for each other, but they are extending offers, favors, courtesies to one another, in a way, because of their history. And I’m a firm believer, as you know – I’m an egalitarian, and I believe that we all come to the table equal regardless of our rank or our status, or our background, or our education. And that we deserve to be valued the same. And so, I think that our institution embodies all of these different types of cultures. We’re right now in a pretty big culture shift. And we recently – we have a new provost and she’s making some cultural changes. And I think those are difficult for some individuals. And I think there are a ton of people here that are ready for change to occur. And they’re looking for innovation and they’re excited about what’s going to happen.

John: So would it be safe to say, Sherry, that you dare to ask why?

Sherry: All the time, yeah.

John: And the other part is “Everybody’s valid and everybody matters.”

Sherry: Absolutely. Yeah, every morning the lady who services my building, her name is Donna. And every morning, I greet her. And I just think again, people forget where they come from, John. They forget that someone helped them get to be where they are, and they’re little people. It took all the little people to help the big people get where they are. And don’t forget where you came from. So I think it’s important to acknowledge those folks.

John: As what my mother reminds me all the time, you will see the same people on your journey as you ascend and as you descend. And all those that you take care of will help pick you back up as you fall.

Sherry: That’s right.

John: So I think it’s important that all of our listeners gather that at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, you guys experienced quite a change. And you shared that with me offline.

Sherry: Yeah.

John: And I know it’s challenging and I know it’s rewarding. But I want to ask you from a business perspective, because this is what our listeners want to know, what are some of the things that business owners can learn and what can we take to the table as we build our companies and build our teams, and build our cultures? How do we engage with  employee morale and encompass the millennials that you’re now inundated with every day? Because we don’t see them like you see them.

Sherry: Yeah, so I look at millennials just a little bit separately from “How do we engage?” And I think the first – the thing that you said, that is morale. And I think that for me as an administrator, it’s always been about grassroots. I believe that everyone should be involved in the decision-making that impacts the culture and the climate of their positions. And there are some things that we have the power to have other people help make decisions about. For example, in my job as the Writing Program Administrator, if there’s a reason why someone cannot make the decision, help make a decision about what books they’re going to use or what time they’re going to teach, or what courses they’re going to teach. We know that there are certain courses that need to be taught. But it’s a more effective system to have an open conversation. And make sure that people are doing the things that they love and they want to do. So I believe in empowering your employees whenever possible. I also think about the importance of engagement, and not to be top-down and not to make decisions without consultation. Things have to happen quickly sometimes at a university, but specifically at businesses. And that’s why we have things like upper administration, so that they can be accountable for the decisions that are made. But I know that there’ve been several times where we’d have to make a decision. And when we talk to faculty and staff, and students, we see a different light and a different land. So I think for the engagement part, I don’t know. I think here’s the thing, education is not about a degree to me, it’s about an experience. And if you’re at a place where you’re just getting a degree, then you’re not truly getting an education, because you’re not having that experience. And I think that that experience allows us to change our path. It changes our minds. For me, it certainly has changed the cycle of my family for me. So I think that we need to engage, not just with each other. And I think that’s my primary responsibility as a supervisor, that’s the word we don’t even want to use. I say, “Team Lead.” As a team lead, my job is to be here to advocate and to serve the people who report to me, the people on my team. So I think those are some important things that we need to be thinking about as businesses. How do we care for our employees and how do we provide them  with opportunities to engage with their staff? Because we need to see the human side of people. And we need to have opportunities outside the work place to come to know them a little bit. As far as the millennials, well, I’ve raised one. And I know that you have a couple of millennials that you’ve raised. So I think that the shift in the workforce is that we need to be more focused on productivity rather than time. If we try to manage time, you can tell someone, “You have to be here from 8 to 5.” And they can physically be there from 8 to 5, that’s like saying, “Show up for class.” When I teach, I don’t have a class attendance policy. I have a participation policy. And that is if you’re not engaged, you’re really not present. And so I focus much more on productivity with the millennials we work with, and allow them to bring themselves to the job. And then, I think this is a critical component and I see a lot of this on UA’s webpage. So I’m really impressed with the work that you guys are doing. But it’s about collaborative space. Doing some research on your company gave me a lot of opportunity to think about—and you can see, but maybe your listeners cannot—but the physical space around me, in my desk, it’s heavy corporate furniture. We have leather chairs. We have small round tables for short discussions. But what would this space look like in a different kind of environment? And when someone walks into your office, they get a sense of who you are and what you do and what you value without even speaking to you. And so I think that there’s an important aspect of how we’re building space at the university to engage collaboratively. And the classrooms that worked in the ‘70s, they don’t work now. You can’t have a bunch of little, small desks like elementary in rows, because they’re not children. They’re adult learners and they need to have collaborative spaces. So I think those are some ways in which we can engage with millennials. I don’t know if I answered your question.

John: Yeah, I think you bring us some great points because as the millennials come into the market place, the entrepreneurs and business owners and emerging companies want to know how do we build a culture around them? What do we need to do? And to your point, when people walk in and see your facility, that speaks to who you are.

Sherry: Absolutely.

John: This says, “I am dated. I am with it. I get it.” And the millennials get it real quick. As you said earlier, I raised a couple of millennials, now I’m not sure I raised them. I’m pretty sure they’ve raised me because they’ve really opened my eyes to a lot of different things in business. And so, my background allowed me – as I talk all the time, I have these amazing sisters who allowed me to just let go and just take it in, and be present and go with it. So, Sherry, to that point I tried to tell people in business all the time “You are what people see.”

Sherry: That’s right.

John: You can tell people you’re something else, but you’re not.

Sherry: That’s right.

John: Because the culture is part environment and part you. And then when it doesn’t align, they don’t think I have an alignment. Well, if you don’t have an alignment, go back and get aligned and then you can meet your goals.

Sherry: Right. And I think that there’s a way that we can help people be accountable and be transparent, but also provide them the opportunity to do what they could do really, really well. I mean, if you even just look at something as basic as the way in which we submit work in the work place, that has changed over time with technology. And the flexibility of being able to provide information in different kinds of ways, and those are some of the things that I always view whenever I came here: “Why do we do it this way?” Again, it’s just because maybe nobody is asking that question very much. I think Google is probably a fairly good example of a company that has catered to the millennial generation if you look at the way they set up their company, that there is opportunity for you to go and have a little down time, that there are coffee shops and there are exercise facilities. And it’s not a sit-at-your-desk, 15-hours-a-day, help-out-as-much-as-you-can mentality. And that’s the reality for a lot of companies right now. And I think it’s why we see an extraordinary number of hard issues in people in their 50s and 60s right now, because they have been working that way for too long. And we need to change that, I think.

John: Well, Sherry, let me ask you this question. Because I had this discussion with Nick Bulwin, our PR Marketing Guru here at BE Furniture. And Nick and I were having a discussion about the millennials. And I said, “Well, hold up a moment, there’s a tremendous amount of us baby boomers. And they’re across the country and we get it. And we want to be included.” And by the way, we have the wealth to drive and grow. So if you don’t build an inclusive environment and it’s only catered to the millennials, what happens to us over here, us baby boomers, that we get it but you ignored us? So how do you bring that together?

Sherry: I don’t think it just starts with focusing on one generation. I think it’s a matter of bridging the gaps between the generations. I think here at the university, the common goal that everyone of us has is that we seek student success. That’s what we want to happen, as we want students to be successful. And I think that’s regardless of what generation any of us come out of. So I think that it’s coming together and looking at—it’s uncomfortable for some people to think about the idea of changing, for example, today, you can see I have a suit on. That’s part of the attire that I wear as an administrator. However, I’m here in semis a lot. I have on a baseball cap and blue jeans and a T-shirt. And students see me and they’re like, “Dr. Robertson?” Yes, Sherry, yeah. It’s me. And they’re sort of taken aback by seeing me in my normal state. But I think it’s important for people to see that. There are little things that we do on campus, for example, you’re talking about bridging us together. Our students just did something called a “Polar Plunge.” They were doing a fundraiser for doing some service in another state. And they asked administrators to come and be a part of it in the dunking booth. I’ll send you the link so you can watch. It’s entertainment for you.

John: Of course, it will be.

Sherry: So anyway, all of us just got up there in our business clothes, and we just went into this water that was filled with ice cubes and plunged to help the students. I think that is the connection for me with my students. And my students tell me all the time, “You don’t seem like this real starch kind of person.” It’s because every day, I remember that I was once there. And you know and you look at the mirror, that’s how you know how old you are most days. But on the inside, you still feel like this young kid who’s 20 years old at the university. And so I remember what it’s like to be them. And so, I try to listen more than I talk. I think that’s a really important thing whenever we’re dealing with the younger generation. Hear them, and remember where we were when we were that age.

John: Okay. So you’re educating this millennial group. So define for our listeners what you feel company culture is and what you’re going to deliver to us, out of the education system?

Sherry: I think that this word can be defined in so many different kinds of ways. But I see it as the climate of the institution, and it’s what makes people want to work here. And it makes students want to come here. So it’s the synergy that you expel from the institution. And it comes from the people, and it’s evident in the space. But it’s the pride you see in the students. And so, whenever you’re at the grocery store or whenever you go to the beach, look at the 20 year olds and see if they have on their college-wear. Those are the students who come from a place that have got really strong company culture. And how is the institution instilling the pride of the institution in them? And do they understand the traditions of the school and have they had the opportunity to be a part of the history of the institution?

John: Can you tell us a story where the culture helped accelerate the university at one of the schools you’ve been in?

Sherry: Absolutely. So I was at Arizona State University from 2004 until 2012. And I worked on a variety of programs. But Arizona State ran into some state deficit cuts, $200 million was cut from the university budget one day. And so we had to become more innovative in the way that we approached education. And we did that in online education. And Arizona State Online, they have five campuses, four of them in physical locations. Their fifth campus is ASU Online. So that campus is not a place students physically go to. It’s a place they visit through their machines. But there is a physical location where faculty members can go and we get support from instructional designers. And when you’re in that space, you’re really excited about being a teacher. All of the walls are either glass or they’re white board markers. And people write on the walls, and they communicate with you in a different kind of way than you’d expect someone at the university is going to communicate with you, but it’s open space. And that culture to me made me feel really excited about being a teacher. They had a recording studio, where you’d walk in and it was sort of like you’re on the news. They would take the mic and wire it up your shirt and put it on your lapel. And you would just talk to your students and they would build short, two to three minute videos. They would embed them in your course shelves, and a student’s connected with you because they saw your face and they heard you. And I think the best and a really important part of online education is finding the ways in which you will connect with your students. And Arizona State University helped provide me with those learning opportunities.

John: We talked a little bit about facilities, the physical nature of it. How does it affect the student, the enrolment, the engagement? And how does it reflect the culture of the university you’re at today?

Sherry: So I think that the facility is an important concept. Our Chief-of-Staff here in the university–I’m on a team with a variety of faculty and staff. And our Chief-of-Staff the other day was talking about what it would look like if we turned this university into what looks like a learning space. And so she was talking about concepts like the benches across campus. What if those looked like open books rather than just benches? And what if when you went to the cashier’s office, instead of it looking like the bank, that it looked like some kind of learning space. And when you wait to talk to financial aid or advising, you’re sitting in a space that feels a little bit like the DMV, but why? Why do we build those spaces in ways that that serve the function of what you’re trying to get into rather than a space in which you live in? And so I think that in our university, but all universities have a message to students, that we are a space of learning and engagement. So I think that’s what attracts students when they come to their campus visits and they say, “This place looks really cool, mom.” And they feel the hype of the students. And they see activities on campus, and we have a group of students. They are called “The Lawn Chair Club.” And they actually have hammocks that hang in the trees. And I see them on campus. They just move around from place to place. And I just always think that’s super cool. And we have a couple of musicians that just pop up in different places on campus and play music. And I think that that is necessary to show that we have young people here. And they are learning and they are living here. And I think that those kinds of things help serve the culture of a learning institution. It’s to make it feel like a space where people want to be. If it’s just, you move back and forth like little robots between the library and places, the buildings where we have classes, then I think we’ve failed them. I think if their lunch cafeteria feels like a cafeteria rather than options where you can get Chick-fil-A and get Taco Bell, and get what they want. Because you and I are probably too old to be eating that kind of food, but they’re not.

John: I want to eat that food, it just doesn’t like me.

Sherry: Me neither.

John: Now, Sherry, what is the most common mistake you see emerging businesses and entrepreneurs making as we try to bring your students into the workforce?

Sherry: Not paying attention to their employees. I think sometimes we get so set on what the goal of our institution, the function of our institution. And we forget to think about the people who, not only we serve, but the people that do the work for us. How do we as a company take care of our people? And that goes from the individuals who service the buildings to the individuals who work in cashier services. Are people happy to work at your place? And if they’re not, why not? And what can you, as the person who is the agent of change, what could you do to make that better? Often times, it costs nothing. People need to be appreciative and need to feel appreciated. And if we’re not greeting folks and saying, “Good morning,” and asking them how they’re doing, they’re going to feel devalued. And I think the biggest mistake that we make is we don’t value employees as individual human beings, and pay attention to what’s happening in their life and “Congratulations on the baby,” and “I’m sorry about the loss of your mother.” They’re human beings. And they’re coming to a space where they have a lot of choices to earn money, to pay their bills. They chose to work at your company for a reason. What are they doing in education for us? And how are we valuing them as agents of educational experiences?

John: Nice answer. I want to take you to the lightning round now, Sherry. So here we go, buckle in.

Sherry: Okay.

John: Is there a book that changed your life?

Sherry: Yes. Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions.”

John: And why is that?

Sherry: I read it when I was a young mother and she kind of gave me permission that it’s okay sometimes to just put the baby down a minute and walk away and let her cry for a second, that not every mother is so full of bliss and love, that being a mother is really, really hard. And it’s okay to say that it’s hard sometimes. And so Anne Lamott’s my favourite author and she also wrote a book called “Bird by Bird,” which is an important book for writers, but I think for people in general. And she talks about doing things step by step, just a little bit at a time and don’t take on the whole project. Just focus on one little aspect at a time. And so I think she’s just been influential to me.

John: And what quote do you go to for inspiration?

Sherry: So every day that my child got out of the car when she was little, I would always say to Madeline, “Be good, do good, baby girl.” And I believe in that. Be good to others and do good for everything around you. So I live by that mantra.

John: You have to. We tell Alex—our eldest is an autistic child—so we drop him off at his day program every day. And we say, “Alex, have a fantastic day.” And he turns around every day and he goes, “Hey, I am fantastic.”

Sherry: But I think that that’s the truth for Madeline, John, because every day I’ve said to her, “Be good and do good.” And she is a good human being and she takes care of what’s around her.

John: Yeah, she’s a good egg. I like her a lot.

Sherry: Me too.

John: What company do you admire the most and why?

Sherry: Honestly, I have to tell you, I recently went to an institute that Disney hosts, and I have great admiration for what they do as a company. When I saw the underside from the Disney Institute, of what they do in customer service, it’s incredible, the amount of energy and time, and effort and training that they put into providing a seamless experience for the visitors to their company. So I have a lot of admiration for Disney as a company.

John: It’s an amazing place. The most amazing place on the face of the earth, right?

Sherry: Right, happiest place on earth, that’s right.

John: I’ve only been there about 25 times. Alex’s favourite place in the world. We go every chance we get, every chance he gets, I should say. Alright. Sherry if you had to describe the university in three words, and because you’re on BE Culture Radio, you have to start it with “BE,” what would those three words be?

Sherry: I’m going to take four words. And I’m going to say BE innovative, BE empowering.

John: Okay. Give me one more.

Sherry: Oh, let me think for a second, sorry. I think like BE the game-changer.

John: Okay, I like that. Now, Sherry, if my listeners want to contact you, how can they contact you?

Sherry: Yeah, so they can e-mail me directly. I’m happy to talk to anyone. My direct e-mail address at the university is “sjrobertson—‘R-O-B-E-R-T-S-O-N’–@ualr.edu.” So e-mail is probably the easiest way to get in touch with me. But I’m happy if they want to call me as well. My office phone is area code (501) 683-7433. So they’re welcome to call me and e-mail me.

John: And any of the adults that want to continue their education, any advice for us?

Sherry: Yes, so there are really incredible online programs. You don’t need to just think about online. I think that you need to think about what best suits your needs. I think sometimes we’re fearful of technology and that gives us away. But we’re a metropolitan university. And our general demographic are primarily non-traditional students. We have lots of military students. And our institution is a place where folks can come and complete their education regardless of what age they are. Or they can start that education. And so, I think the first step is reaching to a university where you feel that what they offer is something that you desire. I know that there are lots of people who want to complete their degree. And one of the things I would look for is look for programs that may offer, it’s called “work-based experience.” So if you worked in management for 30 years, often times they offer credits toward that, so that you don’t have to maybe take some of the entry-level courses, because you’ve been doing that for a long time. And so, I would start with some of those things. I will quickly give a plug for the State of Arkansas. And that is, if you’re a resident in the State of Arkansas over the age of 60, you can come to school for free. So come and learn. Move to Arkansas and come get education.

John: Well, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock is quite fortunate to have Dr. Robertson as their Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs of Student Success and Online Education. And I am proud as I can be. I’ve known her, her own life. I can’t thank you enough. And Sherry, I never end the show without sharing with my guest my favourite quote which is from Maya Angelou, which is “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And I hope I made you feel welcome and part of my tribe. And again, thank you so very much, Dr. Robertson. That was for your mom. And I hope you’ll come back and visit us again soon. And tell us about your extraordinary progress that you’re making at the university.

Sherry: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

John: You be well.

Sherry: Thank you.

John: Bye-bye.

Sherry: Bye.