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NBA Point Guard, Harvard Business School Professor Demonstrate Class at N.C. A&T

09/26/2019 Academic Affairs, College of Business and Economics

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 26, 2019) – About 200 North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University students spent Wednesday afternoon in a demonstration of a Harvard Business School course that may be added to the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) curriculum, thanks to the efforts of Piedmont Triad native and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul.

Paul, through the Chris Paul Family Foundation, and Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse, Ph.D. partnered with CoBE to present case studies about entertainment, media and sports to the students.

CoBE Dean Kevin James, Ph.D., said the class offered an excellent chance to examine the decisions that take place behind the scenes of billion-dollar business contracts and projects that shape society.

“We are hoping students will learn more about the careers available to them in the sports and entertainment industries, how they can pursue them, and how their skills translate to every large organization that has business function no matter the industry,” James said. “The College of Business and Economics is always looking for partnerships that provide unique opportunities for learning and diverse experiences for our students.”

Paul kicked off the course with a group of 50 students in a fireside chat-style session, encouraging them to create and maintain direct human connections, which have a more lasting impact than social media communications. “Always make that contact and give your first and last name,” he said.

Next, Elberse engaged those students along with about 200 others in CoBE and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication to analyze Disney Studio’s tent pole strategy of producing and marketing movies. Afterward, she asked them, “Did you feel like you were at Harvard?” adding, “You guys crushed it!”

Taylor Rooks, host of Bleacher Report’s Take It There with Taylor Rooks, concluded the session with Paul and Elberse, eliciting comments from the students. One said he liked the fast pace of the class, especially with the large volume of information they were given to study in advance. Another said he enjoyed hearing terms like “exponential growth” used in the context of real-life business situations to help him understand the concepts.

Paul said his goal is the make the class a permanent offering at A&T. He said he found out about Elberse from his friend, fellow NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, and took her summer class in 2016 with his older brother C.J. Paul, NBA superstar Pau Gasol, actor and musician LL Cool L, and actor Channing Tatum.

“What makes the class special is the human interaction,” Paul said, noting that some of the professionals identified in the case studies Elberse teaches participate in her classes to provide their insights in person. “That’s something no book can tell you.”

Paul said he learned the importance of service to others and the value of lifelong learning from his family. But when you’re trying to perfect your jump shot as a child with dreams of playing in the NBA, he said, you don’t think about having to learn about 401(k) retirement plans. Elberse’s class opened his eyes to opportunities that exist both during and after his basketball career.

“If I’m looked at as only a great point guard, I did something wrong,” he said.

Paul said although he is probably the first member of his family not to attend a historically black college or university, he wanted to bring the dynamic experience of Elberse’s class to A&T where two of his cousins graduated and a third is a student. Even while attending Wake Forest University in his hometown, he said, he would come to A&T’s homecoming.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “You can get an unbelievable education at HBCUs.”