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Gene Smith spoke to business students Feb. 5 at Gerlach Hall about his experiences and successes 

By: Stephanie Webber, OSU Lantern staff writer
Posted: 2/12/09

The Fisher College of Business Black MBA Association has invited four black leaders to speak to the Columbus community as part of its Black History Month speaker series.

Jay Johnson, president of the Black MBA Association, said the speakers will focus on how their challenges and experiences relate to black history. The speakers have diverse professional backgrounds, ranging from athletics and education to finance.

The series, called “Black Leaders and their Impact on Society,” featured Gene Smith, athletic director at Ohio State, on Feb. 4. Smith is the first black athletics director at OSU. Students, faculty and staff attended his speech.

“These are opportunities for everyone to consider how race impacts people’s lives,” said graduate student Kimani Phifer.

It was the first time Phifer had heard Smith speak, and it made her look at her career from a new perspective. “He emphasized not to worry about your next job, but rather focus on doing your best at your current job. This is a different approach than what we are taught in the business world,” Phifer said. Graduate student Lisa Barclay attended Smith’s speech, and it also inspired her to look at her career differently. “All students in higher education have a responsibility to leave the world a better place. You can give back and help others be successful no matter where you are in your professional journey,” Barclay said.

J. Tracy Robinson, executive director of the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, spoke yesterday. Richard Dent, senior vice president of Limited Brands will speak on Wednesday, and Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University will speak on Feb. 25.