September 28, 2007

Disney executive to speak to business college

by Sun Min


CARBONDALE, Ill. — An executive from The Walt Disney Company will speak to the College of Business and Administration community at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Dan Cockerell, general manager of merchandise operations at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, will be the keynote speaker during the "College of Business Student Services Forum" on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 3:30 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. A reception will immediately follow in the International Lounge. The event is free and open to college students, faculty and staff.

Jointly sponsored by Disney and the SIUC College of Business and Administration "Student Experience Committee," the event will highlight the college's "student services" campaign.

"At the College of Business, we want to provide a premier student experience and that's why we invited Disney's Dan Cockerell to campus," said J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business and Administration. "Disney is renowned for its customer service and we are currently adopting the company's approach to creating satisfied customers, or in our case, satisfied students."

When he arrived at SIUC in 2006, Cradit convened the "Student Experience Committee," made up of faculty and staff, to come up with inventive ways to improve the experience of being a College of Business and Administration student. Cradit handed each member a copy of The Disney Institute's book "Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service," which outlines Disney's customer service strategies.

"Student Experience Committee" members also participated in a Disney Institute conference in Chicago, where they learned about communicating a compelling vision, building involvement and ownership, organizing for maximum involvement and capitalizing on change.

Last month the committee launched the first phase of the "student services" campaign. First, the school adopted "Student Service Standards," a document outlining ways to create an environment that will "enable future leaders to achieve personal and professional goals."

Second, the college hosted "customer service" trainings for student workers. They learned about the importance of being courteous to anyone who interacts with the college.

Third, new signage was added in Rehn Hall to help students find their way better. Fourth, the committee hosted a "Welcome Reception" for all new and continuing business students.

Last but not least, a second career adviser was added to the staff and the school is looking into getting more academic advisers, more jobs for students and more scholarships – all to better serve students.

"We want every student to come away with a positive feeling about their school," said Donna Margolis, director of the College of Business Placement Center and a member of the "Student Experience Committee."

"All of these changes are meant to empower students and enhance their learning experience," said Cradit.

SIUC College of Business and Administration ( is among the nation's most reputable business schools. It is renowned for its student centered learning environment, which is driven by an innovative spirit and enhanced by world-class research. You can view a video profiling the college at