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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

Operational Excellence in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe

Posted by Michael Urick on Mon, Jan 6, 2020 @ 12:01 PM

Over Christmas break, I had the opportunity to see the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” in the theater and really enjoyed it. I especially liked the scenes where Mr. Rogers (played well by Tom Hanks) referred back to the songs that I remembered on his show from my childhood. I have come to know these songs and other Neighborhood of Make-Believe songs well. My daughter loves the “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” show (produced by Fred Rogers Productions) and I enjoy the music because I like how several of the songs are slight updates of Mr. Rogers’ originals. My family and I listen to Daniel Tiger songs all the time – and in them I hear a lot of Operational Excellence (OE) principles. After listening to these songs, I believe that OE is alive and well in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. In this blog, I will share how some of the lyrics to Mr. Rogers’ and Daniel Tiger’s songs illustrate the OE philosophy.

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Topics: fred rogers, Saint Vincent College, SVC, Michael Urick, Daniel Tiger, Saint Vincent, Operational Excellence, blog, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Faculty Blog, Dr. Mike Urick, svc blog, Mr. Rogers

The Summer of A Touring Musician

Posted by Michael Urick on Mon, Aug 12, 2019 @ 09:08 AM

Many people who know me as a professor and researcher are often surprised that I also lead and play music with a jazz/early rock/horn band called Neon Swing X-perience. Likewise, many people that know me as the vocalist and trumpet player for the band might also be surprised of my academic career. Yet, through many years I’ve tried to balance both roles and this summer was no exception. While I taught a summer class, helped to effectively recruit one of the largest classes our Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program has welcomed and worked on a half dozen research publications, I also found time to tour with the band.

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Topics: Michael Urick, teaching, professor, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, mike urick, Dr. Mike Urick, band, performing, Neon Swing X-perience

Problem Solving: Start at the Source

Posted by Michael Urick on Wed, Apr 3, 2019 @ 12:04 PM

Recently, Dr. Gail Fairhurst (a friend, mentor and colleague of mine from the University of Cincinnati) visited Saint Vincent to give a guest lecture on her research. While her comments were primarily about how to be an effective leader through focusing on communication style, she also talked about the nature of problems that leaders must solve. I am reminded of some research of hers that I read in which she identifies problems as “wicked” when they are challenging to describe, difficult to solve and closely related to other problems. She and her colleagues term these to be problem “knots” because they are often tangled together in such a way that multiple problems relate to, confuse and add to each other (Sheep, Fairhurst, & Khazanchi, 2017).

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Topics: Faculty, problem solving, Michael Urick, SVC faculty, saint vincent faculty, professor, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Faculty Blog, mike urick, Dr. Mike Urick

Teamwork, Collective Memory and Jethro Tull

Posted by Michael Urick on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 14:01 PM

When do teams begin and end? We see team membership change all the time, whether we’re talking about sports or a workgroup. My favorite baseball team is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  As anyone that follows the team knows, they have had quite a bit of turnover in players (for example the recent unfortunate trade of Andrew McCutchen, one of my favorites), yet they remain the Pirates. This team did not end when McCutchen left. Nor did it begin when he joined their ranks. In other words, the existence of a team can and likely will continue even when membership changes. I can think of several work teams that I’ve been a part of, including in my role as director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program here at Saint Vincent, where members leave the team and new members come on board, all while the team continues along in its purpose. 

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Topics: Operational Excellence, organizational culture, management, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Dr. Mike Urick, Andrew McCutchen, organizational behavior, Jethro Tull, Master of Science in Management

The Importance of Theory

Posted by Michael Urick on Fri, Nov 9, 2018 @ 17:11 PM

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working on co-editing a three-book series on leadershipThe first book focuses on leadership theoryThus, I’ve recently been reflecting on the importance of theory in academia 

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Topics: professor, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Faculty Blog, Dr. Mike Urick, theory, academia

Decision-Making and Complexity

Posted by Michael Urick on Mon, Jun 4, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

In my May blog, I shared with you one way in which students in the McKenna School systematically examine the ethicality of decisions on the basis of various moral frameworks. While students have many other assignments in which they further refine their own moral principles throughout their studies at Saint Vincent, analyzing decisions made by others is useful in shaping a student’s viewpoint.

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Topics: leadership, leadership in college, effective leadership, professor, lifelong learning, blog, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Faculty Blog, mike urick, Dr. Mike Urick, decision making

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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