Joe Talty loves seeing business students walk across that commencement stage.
In his role as program manager in the Collat School of Business Graduate School of Management, he provides administrative support for the school’s online master’s programs and interacts a great deal with the students — many for whom graduation is their first visit to campus.
“Many of them will travel from several states away,” said Talty, who started at UAB four years ago as an administrative associate for the Department of Accounting and Finance. He also earned his master’s degree in business administration from UAB. “It’s very cool seeing them explore our beautiful building and campus — what was previously just an idea of a place they interacted with from their computer.”
Running an online graduate program takes patience, skill and determination, and colleagues say Talty’s creativity in negotiating and problem-solving is key to its success. Those qualities have earned Talty the Employee of the Month honor for August.
“Joe’s credibility, preparation and personality with such a positive attitude helps him excel in these situations.”
Talty’s job is much larger than working with third-party vendors and managing enrollment and student advisory services, his co-workers say. He always is searching for opportunities to improve services, expand course offerings to meet student needs and revise the online schedule to make it smoother and more conducive to student success.
“Joe’s creativity in resolving issues and his abilities to work with all the involved constituencies are critical to a smooth operation,” says James Byrd Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance and director of the graduate accounting program. “Sometimes negotiating to reach an acceptable solution is difficult, but Joe’s credibility, preparation and personality with such a positive attitude helps him excel in these situations.”
There is a kind of art to finding the perfect balance when working on class scheduling and other administrative details, Talty says. His secret to success isn’t so much of a secret, he adds — though he studies trends and historical data to estimate needed resources, the real key lies in collaboration.
“Talking with students helps me keep a finger on the pulse of what students want to get out of their program.”
Talty works closely with the administrative director of the campus programs, department chairs and program directors and relies heavily on communications with students and rest of the Graduate School of Management team, he said. “Talking with students about their professional interests and goals can provide many helpful insights when in the planning phase for a semester. It helps me keep a finger on the pulse of what students want to get out of their program.”
Talty’s big-picture goal is to make sure Collat is the best business school it can be, and he takes a sense of pride and ownership in his role, says Paul Di Gangi, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems & Quantitative Methods and program director for the graduate management information systems program.
For example, Di Gangi says he and Talty conduct an annual review each year. When they noticed their admissions GPA and other academic statistics weren’t being reported correctly for national rankings, which are critical for student recruitment, Talty worked with Di Gangi, graduate school administrators and UAB Information Technology to discover the missing link in the information exchange and identify ways to report the data more accurately.“Joe was motivated to show the world how special our graduate program is and the quality of our students,” Di Gangi said. “He is truly a Blazer that is powered by his will to excel in his job, including going above and beyond his typical or expected duties.”