This week, CoachSark.com chatted with University of Washington Foster School of Business lecturer Jack Rhodes for our weekly Competitor Tuesday feature. Rhodes graduated from UW in 1961 and after a long career in business returned to the UW in 1999 to teach business. Among other duties, Rhodes also is the Director of the Sales Program at Foster, a role that he was appointed to in 2003.
CoachSark.com: What’s better: being a student or a professor?
Jack Rhodes: Oh, this is a much better time in life. I have the best of both worlds. I have the opportunity to work with students and kind of feel like I am one, and at the same time, it’s an opportunity to give back a little bit of what I’ve gained from all these years and give them a kick start in life. It’s an opportunity to see the fruition of what you’ve done, see all the young minds and maybe track them once they have gotten into the real world.
CS: I know you’ve spent a long time at the school—you got your bachelor’s degree here and now you’re a professor at the University—what’s your fondest memory?
JR: There are a few of them. I got a lot out of the fraternity I was in—I was a FIJI here, and as a function of that I was able to start to network—which I didn’t know what it meant at that point in time, but it certainly at this time in my life has been apparent. I have to say connecting with the University on a smaller basis through the fraternal system was great.
The other things that came about to be honest, were that I was an avid sports guy. I was kind of discouraged with the fact that I didn’t make the basketball team as a freshman, but then I just got energized as a part of sports. Basketball and Football in particular were high on my list at my time at school. There was a group called “Sun Dodgers” which was a spirit organization that centered around getting students interested in going to sporting events, so I was pretty involved in that.
CS: As an avid sports fan, I’m sure you were immersed in the National Championship football team?
JR: How could you not be? We were very fortunate when I was in school to go to the Rose Bowl, and of course, the 1960 team was in our wheelhouse at the juncture, so of course, how could you not be excited about something like that?
CS: What was the atmosphere like after that?
JR: The atmosphere was always positive towards athletics. I grew up in Seattle, and it was always easy to get engaged, we didn’t have much competition from much else so it all centered around the University of Washington. The 1960 team was an extension of my younger years, and I was able to participate “so to speak” and it made it really, really exciting.
To go back though, my interest in Husky sports stemmed back to when I was eight years old. I used to walk to the games and sell enough newspapers to be able to earn a ticket to the end zone to be able to watch the game. In those days, you used to be able to buy a corsage for your mother outside the stadium which had a purple W on it—a gold corsage—and if I got enough money I would get her one of those. Of course I always told her I bought her those first, but I really did buy the ticket first.
CS: I know you said you played basketball, but did you ever play football growing up?
JR: Growing up I played all three sports: football, basketball, and baseball. But then I realized I was never going to be any good at football since I was about 130 giant pounds, so I became more active in basketball my senior year. I thought I would be more active in basketball in my college life, but it didn’t happen to be.
CS: What position were you?
JR: I wouldn’t say I was good in anything, but I was a quarterback.
CS: What Husky, past or present player, did you embody?
JR: If I start to name the players, you will have to open the history books, so I will save you the time.
CS: Given your role in the business school, do you ever feel like a coach?
JR: All the time. As a matter of fact, I just completed a selling team competition at Indiana University with four students, and we were fortunate enough to place first out of 21 universities. So that was all coaching. And that’s something when you have competitions, but when you have a day-to-day teaching basis, you’re always coaching. The students are trying to capture what they want to do, and it’s your job to give them the few words of wisdom on how to get there.
CS: Would you rather be scheming in the coaches’ box or in the thick of things on the sideline?
JR: In the thick of things, that’s an easy answer.
CS: What was the most rewarding part of your career between schooling and teaching?
JR: I was fortunate to be able to work in lots of different parts of this country. The excitement of that is the ability to see the different cultures, and see the ways people go about in business. And of course, when I left school, I hoped to work in the three major markets: Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. It was pretty exciting to say that I worked in two out of those three fairly early in my career.
CS: I’m putting you on the spot here like you do with your students: 30-second elevator sales pitch for the university – Go.
JR: The University of Washington is a place where students can come to really capture a culture that is unique. When I say a culture that is unique, we have a very diverse student body to begin with. So, we’re able to mix an international component into it, and we have great activities from the University’s educational standpoint, a school of business that is recognized on a national basis, and they also give us the opportunity not only to be academic, but to truly understand what is going on in the real world. When you couple that together with an athletic program that has been so successful for so long and the fraternity and sorority system as well as the residence halls which make the school so much smaller, it’s a package that’s difficult to refuse.