MURFREESBORO – Let’s put in business terms what Colby Jubenville does at MTSU.
Better yet, go ahead and label it customer service. One description calls that “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”
It certainly can apply to the student experience on the collegiate level. First, the consumer — i.e., the student — comes to MTSU, pays tuition and receives the teaching and learning to earn a bachelor’s degree.
There’s even the possibility of added value by earning a master’s degree in a certain program. But what happens to the student after he or she graduates?
If MTSU or any other major university is worth its salt, then what happens professionally to the student as they enter and advance in the workplace after graduation is paramount. It’s a crucial component on judging the success of getting a degree, especially at the postgraduate level.
Enter Jubenville, who was director of the leisure and sports management master’s degree program at MTSU from 2002-10 and now serves as Special Assistant to the Dean for student success and strategic partnerships in the department of health and human performance.
Fancy title, sure, but it’s all about getting back to basics of business and that of customer service by providing a variety of services after the sell that is known as graduation.
“We recognize as a university the value of coaching people towards their individual success and helping them create a bigger future,” Jubenville said. “It’s a way to coach and mentor students one-on-one and then build strategic partners that recognize the value of student success.
“That is a critical piece in how colleges and universities are being evaluated today — the success of their students. Not only are they graduating, but what are they doing after they graduate?”
To borrow the term used by the Better Business Bureau in grading MTSU for what its postgraduate students are doing professionally after receiving their master’s degree in leisure and sports management, then it would be a BBB accredited business.
Locally, it has key staff members at MTSU athletics to Tennessee Titans to Nashville Predators to the Nashville Sports Council. Around the country, MTSU’s leisure and sports management grads hold prominent positions from Talladega Superspeedway to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to Louisiana Tech athletics to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to Arkansas athletics.
“The concept is simple: Be the best at what matters most,” said Jubenville, who was followed as director of the leisure and sports management by Rudy Dunlap after accepting his current role to market the program locally, regionally and nationally.
“These kids come to a college campus for one reason. They want to create a bigger future, and they don’t know how to do it. What we have to become really good at is getting in a boat with them, understanding what they want to become and then helping them take the steps to become that.”
Success stories abound
That’s exactly what happened to Marco Born, a star tennis player and NCAA doubles national champion at MTSU and graduate of the leisure and sports management program. He worked his way to being director of marketing for MTSU athletics before becoming senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Louisiana Tech last August.
“I decided to enroll in the sports management program because of the partnership Colby had with (MTSU) athletics at the time,” Born said. “It allowed me to go to school and also learn firsthand how college athletics works, and I gained great experience working and being in the program.
“After I graduated, Colby always was willing to talk to me and gave me great advice. He encouraged me to stay connected and emphasized networking more than anything, and it has been great advice. I continue to stay in touch with him, and he will always be a great mentor for me.”
That’s because Jubenville spends much of his time other than teaching classes building networks for the program. That means not only getting off campus and meeting those in leadership roles at businesses and universities around the region on a personal basis, but also gaining their trust that Leisure & Sports Management graduates can hit the ground running in their jobs.
Case in point is Paige Cuiffo, a nine-year Nashville Predators employee who was recently promoted to corporate partnerships account manager.
“Dr. Jubenville helped me get my foot in the door with the Nashville Predators,” she said. “One of his former students, then an employee with the Preds, spoke to our class, and he immediately introduced us. Within a couple of months, I was starting my internship here.
“Nine years later, I have worked hard, gained respect and built confidence that has boosted moves up the ladder within the organization. I attribute my success to Dr. Jubenville’s efforts in helping us to network and bringing real life experiences into the classroom.”
About the time Jubenville arrived at MTSU in 2002 to run leisure & sports management, Thomas Patterson was graduating from the program. But their interaction both professionally and personally has grown over the years as Patterson advanced up the ladder while working for the Nashville Predators, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Braves and now as senior director for consumer marketing & ticketing at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Having that relationship with Colby has been a big windfall for me,” Patterson said. “From my initial steps in the sports industry and every decision I have made since, he has been a great sounding board for me. There has always been conversations about if a certain job is the right fit for me.
“I can’t say that every professor would take the time with all the students to make sure they made the proper connections once they have graduated.”
An award for his work
Growing up in Mobile, Ala., and getting an undergraduate degree in history at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., Jubenville always knew he wanted to parlay his love of sports into a profession.
After starting a football program at Belhaven College in Jackson, he got his master’s and doctorate degrees at Southern Miss before taking his first professorial job in 2001 at Eastern Kentucky. He’s settled into MTSU nicely and found a home in Murfreesboro since 2002 with wife Katie, son Jack (13) and daughter Mary Burke (10).
Last month, Jubenville was named the 2015 YP Nashville Impact Award winner for his work helping others develop their professional careers. He will receive the award at a ceremony held by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce on July 30. It honors an individual dedicated to community leadership and development of young professionals.
Jubenville also writes a blog for the Washington Times newspaper on self-reliance.
“One of the things I told those students I recruited earlier on was, ‘I am going to help you to go where you want to go. The only thing I need for you is when it is somebody else’s turn who comes from the network and the program, I need you to help them to get where they want to go,’ ’’ Jubenville said.
“The most interesting thing for me has been to see those people that truly had no direction or focus or clarity about what they wanted to accomplish. The ‘ah ha’ moments for me are when they call me or send me an e-mail and they say, ‘I just got promoted, or I just got hired with Talladega, and I am the director of consumer marketing.’ That’s when you know that what you are doing really matters and is making a difference.”