Dr. Franklin C. Ashby (B.A. ’76)
Dr. Franklin C. Ashby Q & A:
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS, WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE PROFESSOR, OR WHAT IS YOUR FONDEST MEMORY OF HOFSTRA?
I had a number of wonderful professors at Hofstra but my favorite was David Christman, the former dean of Hofstra New College. Dean Christman was very demanding, but he cared a great deal about all of his students and wanted them to excel. He inspired me to think critically and to write in clear, succinct sentences. I remember how thoroughly he critiqued my papers and how much I learned from his advice. I’ve written four books to date, including two business best-sellers. I attribute a good deal of the success I’ve had as a writer to Dean Christman and his high standards. I’ll always be very grateful to him.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AFTER GRADUATING FROM HOFSTRA, AND WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED THERE?
I began working part-time as a deputy U.S. marshal in Brooklyn during my junior year at Hofstra and remained a part of the agency for several years after graduating. It was an unlikely job for a quiet person like me, but an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I worked with Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Ford and future President Carter during their 1976 campaign stops at Hofstra. My familiarity with the campus led to my walking beside both men for a portion of their visits. It was a memorable experience, made even more so by the astonished looks on the faces of friends when they spotted me standing with President Ford in the Hofstra Fitness Center.
WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF SPECIALTY, AND HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK IN THE INDUSTRY?
I took the Dale Carnegie course in effective speaking and human relations after graduating from Hofstra and was extremely impressed by it. That led to my going to work for Carnegie as the sales manager in Suffolk County, and eventually getting promoted to Carnegie world headquarters as the company vice president of instruction and chief learning officer. I stayed in that job for years before writing my first book and starting my own firm in 2000. Today, I’m the CEO of The Leadership Capital Group LLC in Stony Brook, NY, specializing in business strategy, organizational cultures and senior-level executive development.
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER INTERESTS?
My wife, son and I are avid golfers and New York Yankees fans. I’m also very excited about the group of volunteer business authors, Fortune 500 human resources executives and college admissions officials I’ve assembled under the name Ashby Learning Systems. Our objective is to put a world-class college and career readiness process within the financial reach of every teenager and secondary school in America. I wrote an editorial recently for the Richmond Times-Dispatch called “An Affordable School Reform That Works,” that’s generated several hundred reactions from parents, educators and businesspeople excited about what we’re trying to do. I’m hoping to spend a lot more time working on issues of importance to young people in the years ahead.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CURRENT HOFSTRA STUDENTS?
Enjoy it all, take it all in, and commit yourself early to learning all you can from the amazing people you’re meeting. Your time at Hofstra will be one of the most exciting and stimulating experiences of your entire life, so trust in the process and make the most of it!
IN ONE WORD, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HOFSTRA?
HOW HAS YOUR DEGREE HELPED YOU?
My Hofstra B.A. in psychology provided a foundation for pretty much everything that’s followed in my life so far. I’ve earned an M.A., an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. since, but none of it would have happened without the guidance and inspiration provided by people like Herman Berliner, David Christman and Robert Sobel.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST REWARDING/EXCITING EXPERIENCE IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
I had the privilege of serving for six years with an extraordinary collection of university presidents, members of congress and Clinton administration officials while a member of the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials at The American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington D.C. My most exciting experience during that time was taking part in briefings for President Clinton and Secretary of Education Riley on legislative matters affecting American education. I’ve written fairly extensively on the subject of education reform and was honored by the chance to describe my ideas directly to the president and education secretary.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR SAYING THAT HAS KEPT YOU MOTIVATED THROUGH THE YEARS?
Yes, Emerson’s: “Every great and commanding moment in the annals of the world is the triumph of some enthusiasm.” I keep a copy of it on my desk.