A motivated group of 90 Jones Graduate School of Business students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered shortly after sunrise at Pier 19 in Galveston June 7. Armed with sunscreen, hats, visors, sunglasses and Dramamine, the crowd was eager to board the 85-foot-long New Buccaneer fishing boat.
Leaving port at 7:30 a.m., the business professionals embarked on a four-hour journey into the Gulf of Mexico as part of the school’s second annual Deep Sea Fishing Expedition. “The point of it is to get off of campus, to get out into the Gulf, because we have that proximity,” said Mark Rudkin, Jones School executive director of marketing, alluding to Rice’s less than 50-mile distance from the gulf coast.
With blue skies and temperatures in the high 80s, the expedition’s June timing could not have been more fitting: It was National Fishing Day, and red snapper season appeared to be at its height.
After traveling about 65 miles into the Gulf, the catamaran-style New Buccaneer stopped at a couple of popular fishing spots in 150-foot-deep water. Fishing licenses were not required, and rods, reels, squid bait and stringers were provided. The New Buccaneer’s friendly deckhands were quick to lend a helping hand to both novice and seasoned fishers, all of whom were limited to catching two fish.
For recent MBA graduate Lindsay Deneault ’14 , the assistant managing director of operations at OwlSpark and a native of Virginia, the trip in the Gulf was a cherished first. “For me, Rice has been a lot of firsts. This is the first time I’ve ever been deep sea fishing, and coming from the East Coast and moving to Texas, the last thing I thought I’d be doing in Houston was deep sea fishing.”
The expedition idea originated with Jones School alumna Linda Potter, who earned her Executive MBA in 2013 and is an avid recreational fisher. “In 2012, (Jones School Assistant Dean for Degree Programs) Sean Ferguson asked me, ‘What are you going to do at break, for the summer?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going to go offshore fishing.’ And he said that would be a great event for Rice to get involved in and really interact with the alumni and other students and different programs.”
The boat returned to port shortly after 7 p.m. and attendees lined up to get their fish cleaned and fileted by skilled workers waiting just off the dock.
MBA alumnus Marcus Owens ’10, an experienced fisher, already had a plan for his two red snapper. He was joined on the trip by members of his family. “We’re going to barbecue or bake them,” Owens said. “We love seafood.”
For MBA student Keri Wittpenn the trip provided more than an opportunity to carry home two hefty red snapper; it allowed her network with faculty, alumni and peers in an unusual and informal setting. “The moment that we left land, we had no cellphone reception, which was great because the only thing I was using my cellphone for was capturing memories,” Wittpenn said. “There was no texting, no Facebook, no Instagram, so you felt like you really got one-on-one time with folks.”