In certain circles, he is known as Dr. Decade, but he doesn’t have a medical degree, and his real name isn’t Decade. What he does have is a guitar, and if you are sick of auto-tuned divas and boring cover songs, Doctor Decade says he has the cure. As he tells his audiences, “You name the decade, I’ll prescribe the song.”
When he’s not performing, Doctor Decade is Brian Pentland, professor of Accounting and Information Systems at the Broad College of Business, where he teaches in the MBA program. Whenever his teaching schedule allows, he appears in the Michigan State University College of Business alumni tailgate tent. Pentland compares performing at the tailgate to performing in the classroom: “In either place, you need to engage your audience. Sometimes it helps to be a little bit loud.” Pentland says he loves performing at the alumni tailgate tent because the audience appreciates the songs. “I never feel more alive than when I am singing,” he said.
Pentland is also an award-winning all-around academic. He was selected as one of the 2015–16 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award winners—one of the highest faculty honors at MSU—which he will receive at MSU’s 2016 Awards Convocation February 9. He has been recognized with Administrative Science Quarterly’s prestigious Scholarly Contribution Award (2009) and the Broad College’s Withrow Endowed Teacher-Scholar Award (2013). His record exhibits distinguished research, primarily in the area of organizational routines, and passionate teaching and mentoring of doctoral students.
Doctor Decade has performed cover songs in bars and on street corners for more than 30 years, but only recently has he added original songwriting to his repertoire. Since 2012, he has written dozens of songs, mostly about social media, technology, and academia. “It’s like any kind of writing,” he says. “You write what you know, and since I teach information systems, a lot of these songs just write themselves.” Some favorite titles of his include “Big Data,” “Retweet-It,” and “Things Are People Too.”
At all of his performances, Doctor Decade collects donations for the Greater Lansing Food Bank, and he matches whatever he collects. “The food bank is a direct way to help people in need, and even small donations are very helpful,” says Pentland. You can learn more about GLFB and donate online.