Parting Words

Retiring Albers professor looks back on illustrious 47-year career

HarrietStephenson_3602
Story by: Harriet Stephenson
Published: 2014-07-14

In June Harriet Stephenson, longtime Albers professor for whom the business school's Entrepreneurship Center is named, retired following a 47-year teaching career at Seattle University. How do you sum up an illustrious career chock full of memories and momentous occasions in a few hundred words? By asking Harriet to share her story in her own words.

When asked to write about a few memories of my SU days, it seemed easy. What would I talk about? Should it be words of wisdom or humorous reflections? How about a mix of both?

There was the time we were able to put together one of the first study-culture tours to Japan with significant help of an organization that was providing scholarships-$2,000 per participant-and we put together business people, students and faculty for the tour. I was the "lead"-it was really Bill Taylor and Al Mann who saved the day with language and culture-and it was a fascinating trip. Shortly after we returned I received request to meet with Father Bill Sullivan. Really looking forward to receiving his congratulations on putting our business school in front of the globalization trend with such an innovative tour. That did not happen. I had not followed the requisite protocols and procedures. It could put the university in very bad position. Please do not do that again. Sigh. Bill Sullivan and I had some very good interactions after that.

As a female professor in a business school, you could have no excuses. (Former Professor) Hildegard Hendrickson and I were adamant about no excuses.

Another fond memory is how important to my own growth and fulfillment co-founding a nonprofit microfinance organization was-what better way to learn about what works and how it is done.

Or how much it meant to be able to co-lead with Professor Chris Weber a study tour to Ghana after vetting the start of The Village Net microloan program in Ghana. We were able to explore the program's reach in Kenya-very exciting with a Masaii village and a Kamba village. I will be spending some of my "retirement" time there continuing the great work that we started.

Now on to the "words of wisdom" I can impart: You have to live each day as if it were your last, as if each person you see you will never see again. You don't want to regret not having told someone how much they meant to you while they are physically and mentally with us. We each need to know we make a difference. I am very grateful to SU colleagues, staff, students, alumni and those from the community who provided me such fulfilling opportunities these past 47 years. A huge thanks to you all.


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