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Doctoral Business Students and Graduates at ODU and Around the Globe Use Computer Technology to Share Experiences

"Are you there? Can you hear me? We're going to get started as soon as we can."

Dressed in a blue shirt that matches fellow executives of the Old Dominion University Business Administration Doctoral Student Association, Asligul Erkan speaks into the microphone on her computer inside a Gornto Center classroom.

With her in the classroom are fellow ODU business administration doctoral students, faculty of the College of Business and Public Administration and alumni of the program. On the other end of the computer are eight graduates of the university's doctoral business administration program, scattered throughout the world.

With some minor technical difficulties ironed out, the second annual Teletechnet Alumni Program of the ODU Business Doctoral Student Association gets under way.

"We'd like to welcome everyone today. We have eight alumni who have joined us live from around the world," says Erkan, a doctoral student with a finance concentration, who is from Turkey.

For the next few hours, the doctoral business students - part of a fraternity of only 100, but one that is growing every year - share experiences with alumni in the room and around the world via Adobe Connect, aided by staff members from ODU's Office of Distance Learning. They speak about achievements of students in the program and notable appointments for business doctoral graduates.

Co-sponsored by the ODU Alumni Association, the event was started last year by Chuck DuVal, a business doctoral student who graduated in 2012 and is now teaching at the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, Fla.

Impressed by the accomplishments and professionalism of his fellow business administration doctoral students and graduates, DuVal wanted to try to find a way to foster and bolster the connections between students and the department's far-flung alumni.

The inaugural meeting, held on April 8 last year, featured two students from overseas, connecting remotely. Erkan said the fact that so many graduates of the program wanted to participate in this year's event, held Friday, April 26, reflects positively on the growth of the Business Administration Doctoral Student Association.

Gilbert Yochum, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, addressed students and graduates at the meeting and complimented the business doctoral students on their initiative. "It's a great privilege to be asked to speak to you. Students of this program and its graduates are doing a lot of great things," he said.

Yochum, in his 38th year at ODU, said he loves seeing students come through the college and then go take on the world. "I have taught 15,000 students. I get to see them head out in the world and be successful," he said. Yochum added that the current doctoral business students will soon join their peers in pursuing successful careers. "I'm incredibly proud of all of them. They are great people, becoming great academics already."

Then Yochum made a surprise announcement that he was donating $3,000 of his own money to create a fund for doctoral business administration students to travel for academic opportunities. He challenged the alumni in the room and worldwide to join him in making a donation, to help their future professional colleagues make their mark.

John Ford, professor of marketing and department chair of the four business administration disciplines - marketing, finance, strategic management and IT - immediately took up the challenge, pledging his own $2,000 donation to the new student travel fund.

"This meeting is a really important opportunity for students and graduates to make connections," Ford said.

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