Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event called “Tailgating with the Dean.” My experience was quite different from what most would consider tailgating — hanging out with friends huddled around a keg, the smell of barbeque while you grill, and the excitement that builds up to game time. I ended up tailgating with Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding! Not too many can say that when they talk about academic experiences! The experience was additionally enriched since my spouse was there by my side.

Typically, the tailgates I have been to are outside right before a home game and everyone’s anticipation builds along with the excitement. This was an indoor tailgate that I have to say, I don’t mind at all; especially, on a cold winter day as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees with a wind chill factor that felt like 10 degrees. I grew up in the North during my younger days, but I have adjusted quite nicely to the milder winters here in the South. =)

Duke Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding tailgating with students
The event was full since it included students from other Fuqua programs

As my wife and I entered the room, we could not avoid taking a pause and noticing the excitement within the room. Students, families, and friends huddled around tables buzzing, laughing, and chatting as if they all knew each other for quite some time. The room was surrounded by plaques of basketball teams — current and past — that captured the emphasis they put on team work, accomplishment, and dedication. And I don’t want to forget the most important element of tailgating — food and drinks! This event was catered with delicious barbecue and a full keg, which I definitely helped to empty!

As we sat down at a random table, we introduced ourselves and began to get to know those that we never met before. To my surprise, we naturally got to know those around us as there was also a mix of students from the Daytime and MMS programs. There were many interesting experiences and stories we got to share! Overall, the tailgate was a fun experience from socializing with other students, devouring the catered barbeque, and enjoying the drinks.

Duke Fuqua students attending a Duke Women's basketball game
Action from the game

But the thing I did not expect was meeting Dean Boulding and his wife. They made the effort to meet and greet each and every one of us as they walked from table to table. Not only that, but I actually was able to share some ideas with him regarding the Weekend Executive program. He not only listened, but offered great suggestions to implement. We did not share any drinks, but I sure did appreciate the unexpected opportunity to share some ideas! Overall, this was not your typical tailgate experience, but it had all the elements to make it an enjoyable experience.

Almost forgot … what is a tailgate without the game! We attended the Duke women’s basketball game, and I’m happy to report that Duke convincingly beat Miami, 82 – 43!

The men get their rematch against Miami on March 2, and I will be there! Go Duke!