Shaka Smart Talks Leadership at Investors Circle Event

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Despite the recent resurgence of rumors saying Shaka Smart is leaving VCU for another high-caliber college basketball program, the beloved coach is here to stay.

Last week, The VCU School of Business Foundation hosted a dinner for the school’s Investors Circle at the Jefferson Hotel. Invited to Tuesday night’s dinner was Coach Shaka Smart, who participated in a Q-and-A session with moderator Dr. Jean B. Gasen, Executive Director of the School of Business Center for Corporate Education.

The theme for Tuesday night’s discussion, “Instilling Leadership On and Off The Court,” had Dr. Gasen ask Smart questions regarding the basketball team, Smart’s impression of the student athletes he’s mentored, his coaching philosophies and core values on and off the court.

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Having graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon University and earned his master’s in Social Science from California University of Pennsylvania, Smart developed a love for quotes from historical figures. Playing off his well-known admiration of poetry, history and motivational speaking, many of Dr. Gasen’s questions were preluded with quotes from writers and historians such as Sun Tzu and Robert Frost.

Dinner guests had an opportunity to see and hear Smart in a much more intimate setting with the coach answering questions with personal vignettes, recalling stories about being an assistant-coach at Florida University and Clemson and learning to become a leader and mentor for his student-athletes.

Smart also talked about his own family and being a father to his two-year old daughter Zora as well as being heavily influenced by his mother who raised him and his five siblings as a single parent.

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When asked by a dinner guest what the greatest feeling Smart has felt as Head Coach, Smart replied that it hasn’t been winning and earning accolades, but instead seeing the student-athletes he watched grow and develop make something of themselves.

“Last week when we were recruiting in California, me and the team were watching Troy Daniels with the Houston Rockets on TV in the playoffs,” Smart said. “I don’t think I had ever been more proud watching him play.”

During Game 3 of the Houston Rockets playoff series with the Portland Blazers, VCU alumnus and A-10 record holder for the most three point field goals in a game, Troy Daniels hit a game winning three-pointer with 11.0 seconds left on the clock.

“I know Troy is going to succeed – in basketball or whatever he does – because he’s a hard worker and knows how to follow directions,” Smart said. “I know it sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.”

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After the dinner and discussion period, guests and members of the Investors Circle were invited to meet and take pictures with Smart.

For members of the Investors Circle, events and dinners such as these provide social and recreational outings for the network comprised of local businesses, charities and VCU alumni.

“It was fantastic. I completely enjoyed it,” said Davenport & Co. Senior Vice President and Head of Business Development Clay Hilbert. “We were founded in 1863 here in Richmond. We’ve been here a long time and we’re happy to be a part of the growth here in Richmond. I think VCU has done a phenomenal job in helping improve the city. We’re big supporters of the School of Business.”

While some members of the Investors Circle are individual donors, many local companies and businesses, such as Davenport & Co. donate to the school and offer invitations to Investor Circle events throughout the year to their employees.

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Brandon Hey, a VCU alumnus from 2011 and current underwriter for Markel Insurance, said he was invited to Tuesday night’s dinner through his employer.

“It was a great event and so well put together. I really enjoyed it,” Hey said. “He [Shaka] was a very good speaker. I liked how he applied his coaching staff, the outside work force and the students into his answers.”

Individual memberships costs for the Investors Circle begin at $1,000 and Corporate at
$2,500. For more information, please visit go.vcu.edu/InvestorsCircle or contact Katy Beishem at 804.827.0075 or kbeisheim@vcu.edu  

To read the event coverage from the Richmond Times Dispatch, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

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