Second-generation Gator, lifelong learner and college dean
J. Michael Weber, Ph.D., is the dean of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College. He has a 25 year career in academia, with significant experience in undergraduate and graduate business program development and growth. He recently shared with us his experience being an HHP student and his lifelong connection to the Gator Nation.
I was a typical freshman when I arrived to the University of Florida in the fall of 1984. I was excited to start my collegiate journey, but I did not have a vision for my professional future or an applicable major. I took the idea of “having fun” seriously, and I lacked real academic focus. I bounced around between a few different majors, but nothing really stuck. That is, until I took my first course in HHP, LEI 2000 – Intro to Recreation. I was hooked – I found my major. I fell in love with learning, and it became a lifelong endeavor.
The faculty at HHP were and are amazing. They molded a completely unfocused kid into a responsible and professional adult. I got an amazing job as the director of recreation at Sea Pines Plantation (Hilton Head) before I even graduated. I had to take a couple of days off work so that I could attend graduation. That seemed so “adult” at the time.
While I eventually left the recreation and hospitality industry, I still attribute my academic success to the faculty at HPP. They helped to instill an appreciation and aptitude for learning that carried me into my next academic journeys and career. I later went on the get my MBA and then a Ph.D. in marketing.
I am currently the dean for the Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College. My 18 year old self would have never dreamed of being a dean or a professor. But, I would tell that young man – “Anything is possible, just follow the opportunities”.
Throughout my journeys, I attribute my success to my parents, as they are my heroes and my inspiration. I am proud to say that they are both Gators (James M. Weber, ’66 & ’68 and Carolyn Fogle Mullins, ’66). I was actually born in Gainesville and lived on campus in Flavet Village – married housing. I suppose it was destiny, fate, and a requirement of my parents that I would also become a Gator. I am thankful for that legacy.
I just moved back to Florida and have not been to campus in 15 years, so I look forward to visiting campus, touring HPP, and hopefully attending a football game this Fall. So, if you see an “old guy” walking around with his patient wife (Sherrie), pointing at buildings and reminiscing, that guy is probably me.
[Profile added in March 2021]
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