Dean Bejou launches "Tie a Tie" project

Bonnie Winston
November 29, 2011dean-bejou-launches-andquot One of the keys to success is dressing for it - a maxim that applies to men as much as women.So when Dr. David Bejou, dean of the Walter R. Davis School of Business and Economics at Elizabeth City State University, noticed that some young men at the university weren't quite dressing the part for class presentations, he launched a project to help.  After all, students would also need proper attire when traveling to collegiate competitions, interviews for summer internships and the new job. The result is Tie a Tie, a project through which people can donate ties and more for use by ECSU students, many of whom simply don't have the accoutrements of a more seasoned professional's wardrobe."Tie a Tie helps business students to better prepare for presentations, to gain confidence and prepare for the business world," said Bejou. Students enrolled in the ECSU School of Business and Economics are expected to wear professional attire on each Thursday. In essence, they are practicing for the future now. With the Tie to Tie project, Bejou hopes to motivate any student who needs assistance, to add ties to their wardrobe.Career counselors and fashion gurus alike note that when a person looks good, he or she feels good and exudes self-confidence that is evident in job interviews and overall personal appearance and demeanor.Bejou said that dressing professionally is essential for making a great first impression upon a potential employer who is looking to hire someone who can positively represent the company and interact with customers and other employees."The first impression is formed within 30 seconds of meeting someone," Bejou said. "If a student's attire doesn't fit the business' dress code, he or she will not get the job or internship no matter how good his or her grades and resume."Tie a Tie's first donation of 25 nearly new ties came from the closet of Julius Walker, an ECSU alumnus and member of the ECSU Board of Trustees, who learned about the need during an informal conversation with Bejou in October. Walker, an educator for more than 30 years who retired as superintendent of Washington County (N.C.) Schools in 2009, understood the dilemma of ECSU students. He previously was principal at the county's Plymouth High School, where some of the boys had clothes, but no ties for special occasions at the school, he said."They'd come to me and ask, 'Mr. Walker, do you have a tie I can borrow?' Or sometimes they had a tie, but didn't know how to tie it and ask me to help them with it," Walker recalled."So when the dean told me that some of our students at Elizabeth City State didn't have ties when they dressed up to visit other universities, or made presentations or went for job interviews, I told him I would donate some. Appearance is important and our students have to be the best," he said.Walker gave Bejou a selection of ties from his personal collection that has grown, he said, because of his work attire. He wore a suit and tie every day since starting his first job after graduating from ECSU in 1967."I just want to give back because people helped me," he said. "That's what life's all about."Bejou said students wore the ties for class presentations, job interviews, career planning workshops and internships.ECSU's business school also encourages students to adopt the school's Dress for Success Code, which means students dress in business attire every Thursday to attend classes. With the start of Tie a Tie in early November, students now can stop by Bejou's office and select a free tie - as supplies last.The neckwear also adds a polish and professionalism as students participate in university and community events, serve as speakers, moderators and event hosts, or volunteer as mentors at local schools and with various service organizations.Tie a Tie has proved so popular and appreciated - several students e-mailed notes of thanks to Walker - which it quickly has expanded to shirts, suits, shoes and other professional clothing for both male and female students. William G. Smith, a Tie a Tie donor and ECSU's vice chancellor for the Division of  Institutional Advancement, commended administrators for helping students prepare for the future through wardrobe professionalism."Neckties are the accessory that allows men to display their individuality in a professional way," Smith said. "Over the course of my 30-year career, I estimate that I have accumulated over 1,000 neckties. I donate them to charities from time to time," he said. "This time, I'm happy to donate them to the young men attending ECSU."For more information, or to donate articles to Tie a Tie, contact Bejou at the School of Business and Economics at (252) 335-3311 or dbejou@mail.ecsu.edu.