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  • Dan Price

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/22/2016 05:57:39 PM

    Dan Price, co-founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on January 21st.    Price has been in the news quite a bit for establishing a salary floor of $70,000 at Gravity and lowering his own salary to that level.  He's made many national appearances on that topic, so we are fortunate to have him in our own back yard and available to speak.  Of course, when we confirmed his visit back in February of 2015, we did not know he would have so much notoriety! 

    Despite the rain and resulting traffic, there was a strong turnout of nearly 350, which shows there is high interest in Dan Price and Gravity Payments.  The turnout was a pleasant surprise, and I wonder if it is connected to widening concern about income and wealth inequality in our society.  If so, Price may find himself getting pulled into the 2016 elections in ways he is not anticipating.

    Price was born in Michigan and grew up in Idaho.  He founded Gravity Payments in 2004 while he was a student at Seattle Pacific University, in response to seeing many small business owners being overcharged by credit card processors.  Today, a decade later, Gravity processes over $13 billion in credit card payments for over 13,000 businesses as it continues to disrupt the industry. 

    Along the way, Dan has received many awards for being a successful young entrepreneur -- Entrepreneur Magazine  Entrepreneur of 2014, Seattle Business Magazine  2014 CEO of the Year, GeekWire 2013 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Small Business Administration 2010 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Recent publicity for Price has not all been favorable.  He is being sued by his brother and co-founder for mismanagement of Gravity.  There are insinuations of domestic violence against his ex-wife.  We received feedback beforehand that Price should not be in the speaker series and a group of students handed out fliers saying the event should be boycotted because of allegations of domestic abuse.  As most people know, law suits are easy to file and accusations are easy to make.  Unless there is at least some evidence in the public domain to substantiate the claims, we can't be cancelling events on the basis of hearsay.  Rest assured if we had come to the same conclusions as these critics, we would not have hosted the event.

    Price titled his presentation, "More than a Business Plan: My Mission to Help the Little Guy or Gal Achieve Their American Dream," a reference to helping small businesses lower credit card expenses and his $70k initiative.  He started his remarks by talking about growing up in rural Idaho as the fourth child in a family of six.  He spoke about his "nerdy" transition from being home schooled to the public schools in seventh grade.  He explained how he formed a successful rock band and in the process met many small business owners who worked hard but did not necessarily have much to show for it, and that one of the challenges for them was the high fees they paid on credit card transactions.

    That was the catalyst to create Gravity Payments, of course, and the path of Gravity has by no means been linear.  The company was hitting its stride when the Great Recession hit in 2008.  Price wanted to stay true to his core values and not respond by cutting salaries or eliminating jobs, and rallied his employees to find a way through the recession by increasing productivity.

    By 2011 Gravity had bounced back and Price cited 30% profit margins, but he was taken back when an employee complained that he was being taken advantage of even though he was being paid "at market," and claimed that Price was proud to be making so much money and getting away with paying everyone else so little in market wages.  So for two years in a row Gravity made large across the board wage increases and in both cases profitability rose, suggesting the wage hikes led to higher productivity.

    Despite the raises, Price was seeing evidence that some workers could not keep up with the cost of living in Seattle. He was concerned that employees were making him rich and at the same time could not afford to pay the rent.  On a hike with a friend one day, he decided to go with the now infamous $70,000 minimum salary policy.

    In closing, Price said he wanted to be part of a movement where the purpose of business is not about squeezing out the last dollar of profitability, but that business serves a more noble purpose in terms of solving society's problems and needs.  He urged students to think about what their purpose would be and how they are going to serve society.

    In the Q&A, the first question asked was about how the new $70k wage policy seemed to be working.  Price said the short answer is that it is too early to tell, but anecdotally he thinks there is evidence it is reducing employee stress and increasing productivity.

    In a subsequent question on its impact on recruiting and retention, he said it had been a mixed bag.  Prior to $70k, they would get 50-250 applications for a position and be able to identify a few exceptional applicants.  Since the change they are getting thousands of applications and it is hard to pick out the gems.  He also mentioned they had been able to attract a "rainmaker" who had been a VP at Yahoo and joined Gravity because she was inspired by the $70k policy.  On the other hand, he admits a few people left the firm because of the policy and he regrets that.  He went on to say this was not a "100% all good" kind of decision.  He had to weigh it in the balance and make a call.  "HR is complicated," he reminded.

    When asked to identify mistakes he made as a young entrepreneur, he noted that he used to see things as black and white and could be rigid in his thinking.  He said he has learned there are two sides to every story and the perspectives of others can be valuable.  He gave an example of an employment law suit that he knew he was right about and knew he would prevail in, but it also caused a lot of stress, distracted him from the Gravity business, and was expensive in terms of litigation fees.  Discretion may have been the better part of valor in that episode, he insinuated.

    He was asked if he has a routine to keep himself operating effectively, such as methods recommended by author Tim Ferrris in The 4-Hour Workweek . He admitted he was not a big fan of Ferriss, but reading the book had prompted him develop a few successful strategies to deal with unwanted phone calls and email - not strategies that Ferriss recommended, but some that he developed for himself, such as programming his phone to send a gushing request to be taken off the email list by typing the letters S-P-A-M in a reply message.

    Price gave expansive answers to the questions, something that seems consistent with his personality.  As a result, time ran out and no doubt our panelists and audience had more questions for him.  But that is ok, since we had students who needed to get back to their evening class! 

    It was a great opportunity for our students to hear from a young entrepreneur who has been in the news a lot these days, and that may not be changing any time soon!  

    Installation Ceremony 2015

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/25/2015 02:48:51 PM


    On November 20 th  we celebrated the excellent work of our faculty by installing three of our faculty members into endowed chairs and one into an endowed professorship.  In recognizing these faculty members, we are, by extension, also recognizing the good work of our entire faculty.

    We have the good fortune to have five endowed Chairs and five endowed professorships in the Albers School. Endowed chairs and professorships are a particularly important resource for a business school to have.  They are a valuable tool for attracting and retaining outstanding faculty.   If we are to attain our aspirations for academic excellence, we can only do so with a strong portfolio of endowed chairs and professorships.


    Dr. Marc Cohen was installed as the fifth Genevieve Albers Professor is Marc Cohen.  Marc joined the faculty in the fall of 2008. He earned a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and holds a joint appointment with our philosophy department. His academic work concerns business ethics, social contract theory, moral psychology, and more general questions in social/ political philosophy about what makes society more than an accidental crowd. The journals he has published in include the Journal of Business Ethics , Journal of Trust Research , and the Business Ethics Journal Review .  Prior to joining Albers, Marc worked as vice president and corporate strategist at Branch Banking & Trust Co in North Carolina, as assistant vice president in the Bank's middle market commercial lending group, and as a management consultant at Mercer Management Consulting.   Last year, he was a visiting scholar in the Department of  Management,  National  Sun  Yat Sen University in Taiwan while on sabbatical.  


    Dr. Lisa Zhao was installed as the third holder of the Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship.  The Johnson Chair was established by alum Kent Johnson in honor of his father, and Kent was able to join us for the ceremony.


    Lisa joined us this year from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, where she directed the Entrepreneurship and Innovation PhD program and taught undergraduate, MBA, PhD, and executive education courses. Before she joined UMKC, she worked at Cornell University and Michigan State University. She was also an entrepreneur and a consultant with startups and Fortune 500 companies.


    Lisa conducts research and teaching on new venture product launch strategies, new venture funding and exit strategies, innovation management, market-entry strategies, and statistical methods. She is the author of more than 20 articles in top academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal , Journal of Operations Management , Journal of Management , Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice , Decision Sciences Journal , Journal of Product Innovation Management , and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management .


    Dr. Jeffrey Smith was installed as the fourth holder of the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair of Professional Ethics.  Shrontz is the former CEO of Boeing and was able to join us for the celebration.


    Jeffrey joined us this year from the University of Redlands, where he spent twelve years and served as the founding Director of the Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society for Business Ethics and will assume its Presidency in 2017.


    His research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and business, currently focusing on the philosophical dimensions of corporate responsibility, examining whether recent calls for greater social involvement by corporations can be given a moral foundation, political foundation, or some combination of both. Jeffrey's work has been published in journals such as Business Ethics Quarterly , Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , and the Journal of Business Ethics , and he is the co-author of the forthcoming 8th edition of Ethics and the Conduct of Business .


    We also installed Dr. Peter Brous as the third holder of the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance.  Peter also was the first holder of the chair back in 2007 to 2011.  Dibee was a long time member of our finance faculty. 


    Peter joined Seattle University in 1992, after four years on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University. He has published articles in the top finance and accounting journals, including the Journal of Finance , Journal of Financial Economics , Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis , and the Journal of Accounting Research .   At the same time, Peter has published several pedagogical papers in the Journal of Financial Education . He has taught on-site finance courses at Costco Wholesale Corporation and has served as an expert witness in over 30 cases based on his expertise in valuing employee stock options or business valuation. Additional areas of expertise include corporate performance measures, capital budgeting, corporate financing decisions, and real option analysis.


    It was great to be able to recognize these faculty members for their outstanding work!  Please join me in congratulating them!

    Jamie Nordstrom

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/13/2015 11:34:06 AM

    Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Stores, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on November 12 th .  Nordstrom was appointed President of Nordstrom Stores in May, 2014.  Prior to that, he was President of Nordstrom Direct starting in 2005.  A fourth generation family member, Jamie began his career in the stockroom of the Bellevue, Wash. store in 1986.  He  worked  in  sales  in  shoes  through  high  school  and  college, and   went   on   to   hold   numerous   positions   with   the   company   in   store   and   buying management.

    Jamie started his remarks by reviewing the history of the company and the work of the three previous generations of Nordstrom's to get it to where it is today.  I take that back - he actually started his remarks by referencing the release of the company's latest earnings report that day, which had triggered a 20% drop in the stock price, so it was clear that being at Seattle University was going to be the best part of his day!

    From its very beginnings as a shoe store, Nordstrom has focused on gaining customer loyalty, not around price, but around service.  With that philosophy, it became a very strong brand in the Northwest.  But in 1971, in order to facilitate the transfer of the company from the second to third generation, the family took the company public and that required growth.  Thus began the nationwide expansion of Nordstrom to where today they have 320 locations in the US and Canada.

    Despite the results of the last quarter, Nordstrom has to be considered one of the best retailers out there. Jamie provided insights on how they see customers changing and how they are responding.

    Not all the Options - in the good old days, the customer went to the store and selected from the available options.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone for a wider selection.  You must get better at providing more options (like locating items from other stores).

    Informed Customer - in the good old days, you could tell a customer anything about an item and they would not know the difference.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone and know more than the sales associate, including prices at the competition.

    Price Transparency - in the good old days, you would watch the prices of your competitor down the street.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone and find the price anywhere.  All the more reason to compete on service, not price!

    Jamie noted that when competing on service, one has to realize that the definition of great customer service is changing over time.  Same day shipping and curbside pickup matter today but were not expected in the past.  He also cautioned that customers are not so much looking for speedy  service, as they are looking to control their time.  He gave a great illustration of how in the good old days, you would call for a cab and wait and wait, wondering when it would arrive.  Now you can use Uber and you can see exactly when the driver should arrive.  Both could take the same amount of time, but you feel better about the wait for Uber.

    In the question and answer session, he was asked when Nordstrom would be expanding outside the US and Canada.  His answer was -- not any time too soon.  They first have to get it right in those two markets and Asia and Europe seem to be well served these days.

    When asked about preserving the culture of Nordstrom, Jamie said he likes their strategy of combining long time employees who have worked their way up (like him!) with new hires that bring new skills and experience at other organizations.  The culture is to be nice to one another and support one another in taking risks and trying new things.  While being nice internally, they also like to pound the competition and win!  They emphasize that retailing is a "team sport" and you need to be part of the team. 

    Interestingly, he mentioned that our previous speaker, Alan Mulally, former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, came to Nordstrom several years ago and spoke of his "One Ford" strategy.  They realized that Alan was also talking about their culture, so since then then they have started a "One Nordstrom" campaign!

    When asked about the future of on-line retail, Jamie responded that e-commerce is in its infancy.  He also noted that from 2005 to 2010 they ran the on-line business as a mature business, managing expenses and net income and not spending for growth.  That changed in 2010 and now they are investing heavily in their on-line business, which has become their engine for growth.

    A question was posed about which customer the company should be focusing on.  Jamie noted that few customers buy only high end items. Instead, they mix and match items of different price points, so you will often see someone with $30 pants and $400 boots.  It's not about getting all of someone's business.  Instead of price, customers are really looking for something new  (as I write this, I am wearing my new  brown pants from Nordstrom for the first time!), so Nordstrom aims to provide the hottest and latest merchandise.

    When asked about his leadership style, Jamie responded that the best leaders support people to be more successful.  They make others believe they genuinely care about them and are invested in their success.

    Finally, the question came about the stock price.  Jamie responded that it was a bad quarter, with growth coming in at 1% instead of the 6-7% range they had been seeing, and it is not uncommon for a bad quarter to show up.  The key to responding is to manage inventories through these ups and downs and he said they are very good at that.  He added he felt very good about their ability to handle a bad quarter.

    When it rains in Seattle, the turnout for the speaker series always takes a hit, but we had a very large crowd in attendance.  That shows you the power of the Nordstrom brand among our students!  Jamie is just one of four Nordstrom's at the top of the organization.  Would the turnout have been any different if it were Blake, Erik, or Pete?  Probably not, and the message would surely have been the same!  It was an evening of great insights on the retailing industry!

    Want to see a great picture?!

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/6/2015 09:39:53 AM

    This picture features all the people who have served as chair of our Department of Accounting in its 45+ year history!  What a great picture!  Dave Tinius was the first and longest serving chair of the department.  Bill Weis also served during some of the earlier years.  After the completion of Dave's 18 years, Susan Weihrich followed Dave.  She handed it off to Bruce Koch in 2006, and this year Bruce  passed the baton to Chips Chipalkatti.

    One thing for sure is that the department has benefited from outstanding leadership over the years!  Each of these individuals has made significant contributions to the progress and development of our accounting program.  Thank you Dave, Bill, Susan, Bruce, and Chips!

    Accounting Chairs

    Alan Mulally

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/29/2015 04:19:19 PM

    Alan Mulally, retired President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, recently spoke to students in the Albers School on the theme of, "Strategic & Operational Leadership and Working Together."  There were nearly 350 in the audience on October 28th.

    Mulally's prepared remarks largely followed themes in the book American Icon, by Bruce Hoffman, which chronicles Mulally's work to get Ford back on its feet after the Great Recession. Mulally served as President and CEO of Ford Motor Company from 2006 to 2014.  Through his One Ford plan, he led Ford back to being a leading auto company worldwide and number one in the US market.  He is also widely recognized as the Detroit CEO who did not go to Washington DC to borrow money during the Great Recession.  Judging from the audience reaction to that fact, it is an important aspect of his reputation today as a successful business leader!

     Mulally SU Seal

    Prior to Ford, starting in 1969 Mulally worked at Boeing, where he rose to become Boeing Executive Vice President and President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes before leaving to take over Ford.  Throughout his career, Mulally has been recognized for his industry leadership, including being named by Fortune Magazine  as #3 among the "World's Greatest Leaders" and one of the "World's Most Influential People" by Time Magazine.  Currently he serves on the boards of Google and Carbon3D.

    Mulally addressed some of the difficulties he faced when he joined Ford.  One major problem was that the company had become very regionalized, with divisions around the globe divided by geography, and this prevented the company from creating economies of scale.  A second problem was a culture of hiding problems.  When he introduced his green-yellow-red spreadsheet review system, and the company was poised to lose $17 billion, all the items were coming in "green," meaning everything was on track.  But of course, it could not be.

    Over time he worked to reshape the culture and get people to work together.  Later in the Q&A, he noted that leaders set the culture and it is one of the most important things they do.  He shared with the audience the culture he wanted to establish at Boeing and Ford:

    Ford Principles

    The key for him is that the leader must create an environment where everyone is working together.  Not only does the leader need to lead by example, but also must be quick to call out those who are not respecting the principles.  He said that leading is like gardening, taking good care of your people like you would take care of your plants.

    One of the most important reflections of the night was successful leaders move from "I to we" and "Me to service."  Those six words are very powerful and so consistent with what our students hear from us!  Leadership is about how you are enabling others!

    It is also clear that Mulally's success as a leader is very much tied to the business plan and the business plan review (BPR) process.  The BPR brings everyone together frequently and is an important tool for accountability and transparency.  It also is a mechanism for people to help each other identify and fix problems, and so is an important part of "Working Together."  It lets everyone know what is going on and gives everyone the opportunity to contribute.  In answer to a question about responding to unexpected events and shifts in the environment, Mulally noted the BPR is the perfect tool for responding.  Updates are a routine part of the process.

    When asked if he had any suggestions for achieving work-life balance, Mulally said he thinks of a diagram with many overlapping circles that represent family, work, community, faith, etc… that sit inside a larger circle that he labels as "One Life" and "Life's Work."  Those smaller circles overlap and compete and you must figure out what is important to you.  Then look at your calendar.  Are the priorities on your calendar?  If not, start scheduling accordingly!

    I told him afterwards that I like that diagram because it aligns with my view that it is not about work-life balance, it is about work-life integration  and how to make what is important to you fit together.

    He then told the audience about the "family meetings" they used to have in the Mulally household every Sunday, which were really BPRs.  There were certain rituals built into those meetings, one being that everyone came in with their schedule for the week.  Then they figured out how they were getting to ball games, music lessons, dance class, etc… and he was able to put that into his calendar!  Apparently, the kids complain bitterly about those meetings today, but he says they hold their own family BPRs now!

    Alan Mulally is arguably one of the most successful business leaders of our time.  His awareness of the importance of culture and teamwork, combined with his ability to establish a compelling vision and plan and execute around that, while tying that all together, is really very distinctive.  This made for a compelling and inspiring evening for our students!

    AACSB Honors Two Albers Alums

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/16/2015 01:24:20 PM

    To celebrate its 100 th  Anniversary, AACSB has identified 100 graduates of business schools worldwide as Influential Leaders.   AACSB is the premier global accrediting body for business schools.  These graduates are being recognized for their innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, business impact, and influence on social change.  The honorees come from schools in 21 nations and span 20 different industries.   The Albers School was fortunate enough to have two alumni selected -- H.E. Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar and Gary P. Brinson.  It is a distinct honor to have two or our alums in the group because there are so many deserving business school graduates out their having a positive impact on our world!

    Mohamed Alabbar is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the Middle East and has had a major impact on the economics of the region. He graduated from Albers in 1981 with a degree in business administration and returned to Dubai to take a position in the Central Bank of the UAE as manager of banking supervision. He came from a poor family and was the first in the family to earn a college degree.  Later, he was appointed director and general manager of Al Khaleej Investments, a government-owned investment company with significant real estate interests, and through this position he established his presence in the real estate sector.

    In 1992, Alabbar established Dubai's Department of Economic Development, which had notable success in opening doors to the private sector, initiating innovative public policies to strengthen the trade and business segments and establishing a culture of transparency and openness. In the process, he established a close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, and he later became one of Sheikh Mohammed's trusted economic advisers.

    In 1997, Alabbar helped established Emaar Properties-Dubai's largest real estate group. Emaar's projects include some of Dubai's most notable landmarks, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall. Alabbar also facilitated a partnership with Giorgio Armani and established Emaar Hotels & Resorts LLC in an exclusive deal to launch a collection of luxury hotels in the designer brand's name. He is also known for creating the annual month-long Dubai Shopping Festival. Today, Emaar is not just active in Dubai but has initiatives in 18 countries around the globe.

    Alabbar is well known for his pioneering role in positioning Dubai as a world-class city. He has been recognized for his business acumen and his influence in the Arab region in many prominent publications: Arabian Business, fDi Magazine, Fortune, Euromoney Magazine, and Advertising Age. Alabbar has put his status and leadership abilities to good use by serving as a member of the Dubai Executive Council and the Dubai Economic Council, as well as vice chair of the Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL).

    In addition to his impact on the regional economy, Alabbar has also created several corporate social responsibility initiatives and supports various local organizations, such as the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. Focused on the need to promote affordable and low-cost housing, Emaar Properties undertook the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged village of Ngelepen in Indonesia. Alabbar also initiated a social housing project in Egypt, the Beyout residential project for the economically underprivileged. Finally, Alabbar has supported SU by serving on our board of trustees and making generous financial gifts to support university initiatives.

    Gary Brinson graduated from the Albers School in 1966 with a degree in finance.  Growing up in Renton, WA, he worked his way through SU working at Oberto Sausage.  After graduation, Brinson earned an MBA from Washington State University. He was set to enter the PhD program at Stanford but was instead encouraged by Yale professor Eli Shapiro to join a portfolio management group at Traveler's Insurance for a year or two. He decided to veer from his academic plan to try his hand at investing.

    Through the 1970s, Brinson rose to become CEO of Traveler's Investment Management Company. He became interested in investing globally, which was quite novel at the time, and joined First Chicago Bank to pursue that interest in 1981. By 1989 Brinson and his coworkers bought out their investment group from First Chicago and founded Brinson Partners.

    In the mid-1990s Brinson Partners was acquired by Swiss Bank, and subsequently Swiss Bank acquired UBS. Brinson took over as chair of UBS Asset Management and led the group until 2001. According to published reports, Brinson was overseeing the management of approximately $1 trillion, a very large amount at the time.

    Brinson has been very active in the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR), the organization that oversees the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. In 1999, Brinson received AIMR's Award for Professional Excellence. Other recipients include John Bogle, Warren Buffet, and John Templeton. Brinson has further distinguished himself as the recipient of the FMA's Outstanding Financial Executive award and the Graham and Dodd Scroll.

    When CFA Institute Magazine  ran a cover story in 2003 about living legends in the investment profession, Brinson was one of seven individuals featured in the article (along with Buffet and Templeton).

    Although Brinson never made it back to Stanford to pursue a doctoral degree, he has published research that any Stanford professor would be proud of. During his career, Brinson championed several important insights that are seen as conventional wisdom today but at the time were quite revolutionary. Perhaps his most influential work was a 1986 article in the Financial Analysts Journal  explaining that asset allocation is the predominant influence on portfolio return variability.

    Today, Brinson works chiefly with the Brinson Foundation, which he founded to support charitable causes that work to encourage personal initiative, advance individual freedoms and liberties, and positively contribute to society in the areas of education and scientific research. As of 2013, the foundation distributed over $41 million via more than 1,200 grants to nonprofit organizations.  Brinson has also supported SU by establishing an endowed chair in finance, the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance, which recognizes a retired faculty member who was influential in Brinson's development as a student.

    These are two inspirational roll-models for our students.  Both came from humble backgrounds and were the first to earn a college degree in their families.  Both went on to have major impact on their professions, and both have undertaken major philanthropic activity to support their communities.  We are proud to have them recognized by AACSB as Influential Leaders!


    Ben Bernanke Visits Campus

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/16/2015 12:00:33 PM

    Ben Bernanke, former Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, spoke on the Seattle University campus on October 15 th .  The event was sponsored by Town Hall and was part of Bernanke's tour promoting his new book, The Courage to Act .  He was interviewed by former Washington Governor Gary Locke.  The book is about how Bernanke led the Fed through the Great Recession.

    By the way, this is not the first time we have had a monetary policy maker on campus.  Previous visitors include Mark Olsen, when he was on the Federal Reserve Board, and John Williams, current President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    Bernanke comes off as unpretentious, unflappable, and unassuming.  He seems like a guy who would be easy to get along with and is a baseball nut.  Most of what he said in the interview is probably in the book (I have a copy but have not read it yet), but there are probably a few things in the 75 minute interview that are not.




     Locke asked some of the predictable questions.  Why bail out Bear Sterns but not Lehman Brothers?  Answer - Bear Stearns was not a bail out, it was an arranged acquisition and they could get no one to buy Lehman (it was too far gone) and they had no other strategies to deploy.  It was not a case of wanting Lehman to fail to teach the market a lesson.  It was a case of not being able to do anything about it.  Now that we have Dodd-Frank, there are other ways to handle this scenario that will lead to a better outcome.

    Why assist Wachovia but not our local institution, Wamu?  Again, not the same situation, and in the case of Wamu, the FDIC and Chair Sheila Baird were focused on minimizing losses to the FDIC trust fund.  That is a different objective then stabilizing the economy.  Bernanke also admitted that JP Morgan got a sweet deal in the Wamu acquisition.

    What about AIG - why bail them out?  Aren't they just an insurance company?  At that time, the Fed was concerned about the connections that AIG had with so many other firms.  A collapse of AIG would cause contagion across the system was what the Fed feared.  In this case, the government was able to lend funds to AIG to buy time for it to sort itself out.  The strategy worked and AIG is a going entity and has repaid its borrowings.

    Bernanke also explained that the heart of the financial crisis was not sub-prime lending.  There was not enough sub-prime lending to take down the system.  The real problem was how the problems of sub-prime lending triggered investor panic.  Many financial institutions, including banks and investment banks, had become dependent on short term, uninsured borrowings.  Those funds abruptly dried up as lenders panic.  When liquidity disappeared, that threatened the many financial institutions that had grown dependent on that funding.  He claimed the Fed understood the possibility of a collapse of the sub-prime market, but did not see the contagion effect.

    The former Fed Chair also argued that too much of the burden of economic recovery was placed on monetary policy, as very little was done on the fiscal policy side.  Congress could not come to an agreement on the appropriate use of fiscal policy tools, as right wing politicians balked at their use.  When the Fed did everything it could to drop interest rates, pushing short term rates essentially to zero, it was still not enough.   Thus Quantitative Easing became necessary, with versions 1, 2, and 3.

    When asked why the resulting increase in bank reserves was not causing inflation, Bernanke explained that the banks are not using the reserves to increase the money supply, thus inflation is not rising.  Instead, the Fed is sterilizing the reserves by paying interest to the banks.  In essence, the banks are using the reserves as an earning asset rather than using them to make loans, which would normally result in an increase in the money supply.  This seems to be a little understood point by the media, most elected officials, and the general population.  Certainly any Presidential candidate who talks about imminent inflation is disclosing their ignorance and giving insight on their fitness for office!  If more of these folks would have taken a macroeconomics course, it would be easier for them to understand! :}

    Bernanke also noted that the huge increase in the Fed balance sheet resulting from Quantitative Easing is not as scary as it looks.  He suggested the Fed's strategy would be to hold these securities until maturity, at which time they would leave the Fed's balance sheet (and Open Market operations would be used to offset any undesired change in bank reserves).  You want to know when the Fed's balance sheet will shrink - find out the maturity of those QE holdings!

    While telling the QE3 story, he explained that as a known baseball nut he was invited to a Washington Nationals practice, and the manager introduced him to star outfielder Jason Wirth.  Initially, Wirth seemed unimpressed, but when the manager emphasized his role as chair of the Fed, Wirth surprisingly responded, "What's with QE3, anyway?"  I'll bet that story is in the book!

    In the Q&A with the audience, Bernanke was asked if the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act contributed to the Great Recession.  He replied that it did not and he did not think there was a need to reinstate a separation of commercial and investment banking.  For one thing, he said, if you look at all the institutions that experienced the greatest problems - Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, Wamu, Countrywide, etc… -- none of them were mixing commercial and investment banking.  Only Citibank could be said to have been doing both.  Moreover, some of the new rules in Dodd-Frank discourage the mixing of the two activities.

    When asked if he could do it over again, what would be different, he expressed regret at not doing a better job of communicating with the public around why they needed to take certain actions, such as assisting large financial institutions but not assisting struggling Main Street businesses.  They tried, but just did not succeed.

    When asked how the Fed should respond to financial bubbles, whether that is housing prices or tech stocks, he implied that the Fed should not be trying to pop bubbles.  Instead, it should forecast the worst possible outcome of the bubble and be prepared to address that situation.  A bubble is not likely to have large system wide effects because the impact will be concentrated on relatively few affluent investors and a particular sector of the economy.  It is a bit different with home prices, because there are so many home owners, but if a drop in home prices does not trigger investor panic, the down swing is likely to be manageable.

    When asked what he was most concerned about in our economy, he said he was actually quite optimistic about our economy.  That said, his biggest concern was the growing inequality in income and wealth.  He noted it was long term trend that began in the 1970's and it was not a problem that could be turned on a dime.  It would take a number of years to fix, with improved education and changes to our tax and welfare system being the most obvious tools.

    When asked if the large amount of debt held by China was a problem, he responded with a firm no.  That China is willing to hold our debt is a good sign, and they are doing it in order to manage the value of their currency.  He could have added it does not give them any foreign policy leverage over the US, in fact it is probably just the opposite.  Remember the old adage, "When you owe the bank a little, the bank owns you.  When you owe the bank a lot, you own the bank!"

    He was also asked if US households were once again accumulating too much debt?  He said he did not and that households and business for the most part were being quite cautious.

    Finally, he was asked about attempts to increase Congressional oversight over the Fed, such as the new audit that is being proposed.  He said the Fed already has plenty of audits.  The only thing this legislation wants to do that is new is to review monetary policy decisions, and that is just elected officials inserting themselves into monetary policy.  He noted, if you like the way the Congress has handled fiscal policy, then you should get them involved in monetary policy.  Not an inviting prospect for this audience.

    I am a great admirer of Ben Bernanke.  Even with the benefit of hindsight, I think he did a masterful job as Chair of the Fed in navigating the Great Recession.  I don't like that firms like Goldman Sachs did not take a haircut with their AIG holdings, but maybe that was impossible to pull off.  And he continues to have the right take on issues.  Whether it is debt held by China, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, keeping Congress out of monetary policy, financial bubbles, or the growing inequality of income and wealth as our greatest challenge, I think he is on target.  It was great to have him on our campus!


    New Eastside Campus is Open!

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 9/23/2015 11:52:18 AM

    Our new Eastside Campus location is now open!  We have moved from Bellefield Office Park to the Bellevue downtown area, just a few blocks from the Bellevue Transit Center along I-405.  The new space has been completely renovated to meet student needs and to fit the way our faculty members teach these days.  The new address is 200 112th Avenue NE, Bellevue and we had our official opening today.

    It is the first day of classes for the Fall, 2015 quarter, and the first class at the new Eastside campus will take place this evening!  We are really looking forward to life in the new facility.

    We had a formal ceremony this morning to mark the occasion, with Fr. Sundborg and Provost Crawford offering remarks.  Fr. Sundborg did the formal ribbon cutting, along with our Eastside Coordinator, Susan Early.

     Ribbon Cutting

    We would like to thank SU Facilities for a great design and build out, especially Steve De Bruhl, and Meriwether Partners for getting us a great location and lease, especially David Rothrock!

    We are starting the fall quarter with the largest undergraduate class we have ever had, and our graduate enrollment is up notably from a year ago!  Congratulations to our staff and faculty members for the successful work they have been doing to increase enrollment!

    Here are pictures from the Eastside campus, including some of the signage in the entry way and the four classrooms at the new facility.

     Classroom SE



     NE Classroom


    Indian Junket

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/27/2015 02:47:14 PM

    From August 19-24 I did a quick trip to India to visit the Xavier Labor Relations Institute (XLRI) in Jamshedpur, India.  XLRI is a Jesuit university in India that offers only graduate business programs, both at the master's and doctoral levels.  It has a strong reputation in the country, consistently appearing in the Top Five of business school rankings, but is less well known outside of India.  The purpose of the visit was to assist them with their effort to obtain accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an accreditation held by 750 business schools around the world, including the Albers School.

    XLRI got its start in the 1940's when Tata Steel asked the Jesuits to provide training to its managers on improved labor relations.  Tata was a company ahead of its time in terms of how it viewed the role of business in society and how workers should be treated as a precious resource.  The early leaders of XLRI were Jesuits from the US, but over time Jesuits who are Indians have gradually taken over the reins.  A few of those early Jesuits, now in their 90's, still live on the XLRI campus and I was able to meet them!

    Jamshedpur is literally a Tata company town known for its steel mills.  It is also a town that is hard to get to, as it does not have commercial airline service.  To get there, I had to fly to Delhi and take a flight from Delhi to the city of Ranchi.  Then you take a daunting car ride from Ranchi to Jamshedpur.  Most of the way it is a two lane highway with your driver constantly angling to pass the next car or truck and duck in just in time before oncoming traffic.   The drive is an important part of the Indian experience and hard to fully describe.  It's best to sit in the back seat and stare out at the countryside and not watch the road!

    Most of the distance from Ranchi to Jamshedpur shows evidence of building a four lane highway between the two towns, but it is a work in progress and no segment has actually been completed.  The locals say the expanded highway has been under construction for four years and because of corruption progress has been slow.  At the same time, there were a few segments of the journey when we drove on private toll roads.  These roads were well maintained and not very crowded, and show that India is more than capable of taking on its infrastructure problem, but there just does not happen to be a toll road for the drive between Ranchi and Jamshedpur! :}

    June 23rd was a Sunday, so I attended the 8:30 AM mass at the campus chapel.  I had been told earlier that almost all the XLRI students and staff are Hindus, so the fact that there were only about 75 in attendance was not surprising.  But about half way through the mass, I realized that the last time I was at a mass in India, Mother Theresa was there!  This happened in 1997 when I was a faculty member at Creighton University and helping to lead a study tour to India.  Back then, there were not a lot of Americans going to Calcutta, but those that did talked about attending the early morning mass at Mother Theresa's mission, and sure enough, when we did, she was there and we were fortunate enough to visit with her afterwards!  Ironically, the priest saying the XLRI mass referenced Mother Theresa's early morning mass attendance, noting that when asked about it, she replied that if she did not check in with the Lord every day then her work would "just be social work."

    While it was the monsoon season in India, most of the time the sun was out and they reported it had been a weak monsoon year.  Naturally, it was much more hot and humid in Jamshedpur than in Seattle, but one seems to spend enough time in air conditioned buildings and cars that it does not make much difference.  The only time it rained was on the drive back to Ranchi as my trip was coming to a close, and that was intermittent and caused no problems with the driving.

    The flight from Ranchi to Delhi proved to be interesting.  As we approached Delhi, the pilot announced the presence of thunderstorms and we would have to do 15-20 minutes of circling until the storms cleared.  The air was very rough and we did a lot of bouncing around, and after an hour we were still circling, but suddenly we were making an approach and all of the sudden we had landed.  Then the pilot announced that all the other planes that had been circling ran out of fuel and had to be diverted to other locations, and if we had missed our approach, we would have had to do the same.  That would not have been good, because then I would have missed my flight to Frankfurt!

    On the flight from Ranchi, I met Sakshi Singh Rawat, the wife of M.S. Dhoni, the iconic cricket player and current India national team captain.  Prior to my trip, I did not know anything about Mr. Dhoni, but while at XLRI they proudly talked about him since he had grown up in Ranchi.  According to the London School of Marketing, he is Number Nine among the world's most marketable sports stars, ahead of Ronaldo and Kobe Bryant, for example.  Despite the global celebrity status, they still choose to live in Ranchi rather than Delhi or Mumbai or any other large city.  (Ranchi is not a big city by India standards, with a population of less than one million).  By the way, although she is a seasoned traveler, Mrs. Dhoni thought our bumpy ride was the worst she had ever experienced!

    Once in Delhi, I needed to transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, which is normally a ten minute taxi ride.  Unfortunately, because of the huge storm and resulting flooding, traffic was a disaster, and it took over an hour to make the transfer.  Luckily, there was plenty of cushion built into the schedule and I had no trouble making my 2:30 AM flight to Frankfurt and back to Seattle!

    Taiwanese MBA Students Visit

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/27/2015 01:29:59 PM

    On August 26 th , I met with a group of MBA students from Yuntech University in Taiwan.  The students were on campus as part of a two week study tour they are participating in that is focused on Seattle.  The group is staying is staying in our dorms, eating in our cafeteria, and meeting in our classrooms while they are in town.  An important part of their trip is visiting Seattle based companies such as Starbucks, Costco Wholesale, Expeditors International, Boeing, PACCAR, and Microsoft.  I provided them some information about Seattle University as well as about the economy in our region.

    I asked them what their observations were about their visit so far, after having been here for three days. One observation was that people are very nice, stopping for them at corners and crosswalks.  I noted that this was very unique to Seattle and in the rest of the country drivers only stop at stop signs and stop lights.  You risk your life if you go to another part of the US and expect drivers to stop for you.  They will not unless the sign says to!

    They also observed that home construction was very different.  In their country, homes are built with brick construction, but they had not seen this here.  I indicated that I actually lived in a brick home, but we no longer use bricks much because they do not do well in earthquakes and we are all waiting for the next earthquake!

    A student said they had seen very few African Americans thus far in their visit, and had expected that they would see more.  I replied that the African American population is only 7% of the Seattle population, but there are predominantly black neighborhoods just South of campus and also East of campus.  I explained that 20 years ago the surrounding community was much more African American, but through a process of gentrification many families have been pushed out to other communities, particularly South toward the airport.

    The students were also struck by the size of US college campuses.  At their school, their campus is pretty much one high-rise building, but they had visited the University of Washington that morning and were amazed by the size of the campus and all the green grass.  While smaller, they were also impressed with the size of our campus.  In terms of controlling the cost of higher education, I would bet their campus is more effective in that regard! :}

    A disproportionate number of students were wearing Converse Chuck Taylor high tops, so I took the opportunity to provide them some history, namely when I was growing up, one had four options when it came to buying athletic shoes - Chuck Taylor white high tops, Chuck Taylor white low tops, Chuck Taylor black high tops, and Chuck Taylor black low tops - and that was it!  Compare that to the selection of brands and styles available today for athletic footwear!  (There were also Keds, but Keds were not cool, so they were not really an option.)

    Finally, the students wanted to know how our students went about finding jobs after graduation.  Beyond doing well in their coursework, I mentioned the importance of internships and participating in extra-curricular activities, since that made one a more rounded person.  Communication skills and the ability to work with others are also important things employers look for. Given the nodding of heads, it seems it works the same way in Taiwan!

    After our meeting, the students went to Safeco Field to see the Mariners play the Oakland A's, with King Felix on the mound, and fortunately the Mariners treated them to an 8-2 victory!

    New Eastside Campus Coming Soon!

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/6/2015 01:54:49 PM

    We are moving our Eastside campus and very excited about our new location!  The build out of the new Eastside Campus location is moving along very nicely, and we are projected to be moved out of Bellefield Office Park and into 200 112th Avenue NE  by  August 31st .  However, due to the need for testing airflow, lighting, etc… we don't expect to have   full occupancy until September 14th .  That will be in time for fall quarter classes!  The 112 th  Avenue location is just south of the NE Fourth Street I-405 overpass and south-bound on-ramp.

    The new facility will have a layout specifically designed to meet our program needs, as opposed to the Bellefield facility that was always a poor match for us as a facility.  The new Eastside campus also is conveniently located near the Bellevue Transit Center, so it will be much easier for students and staff to use public transportation to travel to (including the Eastside Light Rail once it is in place).

    Below are a few pictures of the new location - the SU signage facing north toward the I-405 NE 4th Street overpass and on-ramp, one of the 50 parking spots assigned to SU, and an interior classroom shot showing that we are still in the remodeling phase.  All these were taken on August 6th during a walk-through tour.

    One thing is certain - this will be a huge improvement over the Bellefield location!  This is very exciting news for Albers and SU!

    Seattle U sign:

    Bellevue Sign


     One of SU's parking spots:

    Parking Spot


     Classroom in progress:

    Bellevue Classroom

    2015 IAJBS World Forum

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/28/2015 05:32:41 PM

    The 21st annual International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) World Forum took place July 19th to 22nd in Montevideo, Uruguay, with Universidad Católica del Uruguay hosting the event.  There were 240 participants representing 49 universities  from 23 different nations .  The theme of the conference was Leadership and Innovation for a Sustainable World, and the agenda included a number of panel discussions and paper presentations.  For example, Marinilka Kimbro, Assistant Professor of Accounting in the Albers School, presented a paper with a Corporate Social Responsibility theme - "Standardized Matching: Collaborators and Commonalities for Global CSR." 

    IAJBS convenes this meeting every year, and it is good opportunity to meet and interact with Jesuit business school deans from outside of the US.  Schools from Spain, Latin America, Korea, the Philippines, and India participate in significant numbers.  Every other year, the meeting is held jointly with Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE).  This was a year for a joint meeting.  CJBE is more faculty focused than IAJBS, which is more focused on deans and other administrators.

    This year I talked to a number of schools who are interested in student exchange agreements, and a few schools are interested in 3+2 programs built around some of our master's degrees.  In 3+2 programs students earn an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in five years rather than the normal six (four years of undergraduate study followed by two years of work on the master's degree).  With affordability becoming a bigger and bigger issue for private higher education, we have to find ways to add more value to what we charge for, and programs like this are one way to do it (we also need to do more of this with our own SU students - and you will be seeing more of it!).

    I participated in a panel discussion, serving as a commenter for a presentation by Dr. Stephen Fox, Professor of Organizational Learning and Leadership at Queen Mary University of London.  He was advocating for more "learning by doing," which is definitely the trend in business education.  His views also align with the practices of Ignatian Pedagogy, something close to home to the audience, with its emphasis on Experience and Reflection.

    During the business meeting of IAJBS, it was announced that the next meeting will take place outside Nairobi, Kenya in July, 2016.  The theme will be emerging economic trends in Africa, with an important part of the meeting devoted to discussion of the Jesuit initiatives in Africa around establishing business programs on the continent.  There are nine different initiatives in play, including one along the Rwanda-Burundi boarder that we have discussed contributing to.  The 2017 meeting will take place at the University of Namur in Belgium, which is the last remaining Jesuit university in Europe outside of Spain.  Namur is heading up the Rwanda-Burundi initiative.

    Several IAJBS representatives were at the recent Jesuit university presidents meeting in Australia.  They reported with great pride that IAJBS was called out as the most effective Jesuit affinity group operating on a global basis.  While we tend to think of ourselves as a shoe-string operation, and focus on all the things we could do but do not do, it is nice to get a more positive perspective from others!

    I've served on the IAJBS Board of Directors since 2011, and at the meeting was appointed Vice-president and President-elect for 2015-16, with the expectation that I serve as President in 2016-17.  No doubt they were running out of options to get to my name!  It does mean I need to make plans to go to Kenya in 2016 and Belgium in 2017!  Let's hope IAJBS survives my time in office and makes it to 2018! :}


    Dave Tinius: SU's Luca Pacioli

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/1/2015 02:30:05 PM

    Dave Tinius has been a member of our faculty since 1971 and retired at the end of this academic year.  Dave was a Professor of Accounting and instrumental in the founding and building of our accounting program.  The program has come a long way while Dave has been at SU, where today it is ranked as a Top 20 program by US News and World Report

    Dave served as department chair for 18 years between 1977 and 2003, so no one has had more to do with the advancement of the program than Dave Tinius.

    Dave is responsible for many of the distinguishing features of our Department of Accounting.  He founded our Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) chapter back in the 1970's, and today it has received Gold Chapter Awards for the last four years (awards that go to a few of the top chapters in the nation).  BAP is the accounting academic honorary, and Dave not only was critical to the development of our campus chapter, but in the 1980's he was highly active in BAP at the national level, serving on the Board of Directors and as BAP National President.  It was a critical time in the history of BAP, as there was a move to make BAP more dominated by the major accounting firms as opposed to a balance between academe and industry.  Fortunately, for thousands of accounting students, the latter approach prevailed and the distinctive professional formation that BAP promotes continues to this day.

    Dave was also critical in establishing the Accounting Awards Banquet, which recognizes our outstanding accounting students and just celebrated its 43 rd  year, making it one of the longest on-going traditions at SU (see my blog on My 30 th  for more information on this tradition!). 

    Dave was also involved in the founding of the Accounting Associates, which then because the Department of Accounting's advisory board.  The board has been a vital source of support for the department for many years, and the department would not be where it is today without the assistance of the board.

    Other important accomplishments over the years included the founding of our Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) program and our Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC) program.  The former assists hundreds of low income households with their federal income tax filing and garners them several hundred thousand dollars in tax benefits and savings.  The latter is one of our Top 20 programs!

    And then there is the Pacioli Society.  This was an initiative to recognize the 500 th  anniversary of Luca Pacioli's publication of a treatise on double-entry bookkeeping.  This was an extraordinary undertaking led by Dave and colleagues Bill Weis and Chauncey Burke.  The Society produced a video, held international symposia in Italy, and published a new translation of the treatise, among other things, but perhaps the Society's proudest moment was the appearance of its story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal , later to be included in the anthology, "Dressing for Dinner in the Naked City and Other Tales" from The Wall Street Journal's  "Middle Column."  It also spawned a series of study tours to Pacioli's birthplace, Sansepolcro, Italy, which took place every summer for many years.

    On June 30 th we held a gathering to honor Dave's many contributions to Seattle University and the legacy he has created through his work with our students and alumni.  Family, friends, alumni, and colleagues gathered at the La Spiga restaurant, with the Italian theme an appropriate reminder of Sansepolcro.

    A number of colleagues stepped forward to offer commentary at Dave's expense.  Barb Yates, Professor Emerita of Economics, fellow department chair, and frequent collaborator on the Sansepolcro trips, noted Dave's persistence and determination, his attention to detail, his "suave" way of proceeding, and his ability to not only dream big, but to make those big dreams happen.

    Bill Weis, once an accounting professor working with Dave in the Department of Accounting, but now Professor of Management, filled in some of the history, including Dave's impact on BAP at the national level, as well as important details about the Pacioli Society.  In particular, he assured the audience that when the impending anniversary was discovered by Bill, and the brainstorming got going, it was all in good fun and not meant to be serious.  Except Dave took it seriously, would not let go of it, dragged everyone into it, and the rest is history!  Bill finished out by naming Dave the "Pacioli of the Seattle University accounting program!"

    Others spoke of Dave's integrity and honesty, his leadership ability and critical role in building up the accounting department, and his care for others. 

    Throughout the evening the name of John Moga kept coming up.  John, a SU accounting alum and Managing Partner for Arthur Andersen in Seattle for many years, is a longtime supporter of our accounting program.  He provide critical support to our fledgling program, including convincing Fr. Bill Sullivan, SU president at the time, that it would be ok for the department to receive financial support from the accounting community.  If Dave was the academic leader of our accounting program, John Moga was the equally important professional community leader!

    Thank you, Dave Tinius, for everything you have done for Seattle University and the Albers School, especially for your critical role in building up our outstanding accounting program!

    Albers Executive Speaker Series

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/23/2015 08:57:55 AM

    This year was the 13 th  year of the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  The series brings top business leaders from the Puget Sound and elsewhere to campus to speak to SU students.

    This year is also the 35 th  anniversary of the Puget Sound Business Journal .  To mark the occasion, the Journal  identified the 35 most influential business leaders in the Puget Sound over the last 35 years.

    While the speaker series does not go back 35 years, it is interesting to see how the two lists overlap.  It turns out that fourteen of the business leaders identified by the Journal have also participated in the speaker series.  This includes Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (#4 on the PSBJ  list), Costco's Jeff Brotman and Jim Sinegal (#7), former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (#9), and Bellevue real estate developer Kemper Freeman (#10).

    Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at the Albers Executive Speaker Series:

     Howard Schultz 2


     Just about every speaker has proven to be a good role model for Albers students and a leader you want to expose students to! One exception to that would be Kerry Killinger, former CEO of WAMU, who was #13 on the Journal list.  Remember the list is identifying influential leaders, not necessarily admirable leaders or leaders who did not lose their way.  Killinger spoke in May, 2003, long before the demise of WAMU and arguably before the organization started to stray from a sustainable path.

    Some people on the Journal list have spoken more than once – that would include Howard Schultz, Jim Sinegal, former Alaska Air CEO Bill Ayer (#16), Phyllis Campbell (once as CEO of the Seattle Foundation and once as Vice Chair with JP Morgan) (#20), and #32 Sally Jewell (as REI CEO).  Alan Mulally (#15), who recently retired as CEO of Ford Motor Company, is scheduled for his second visit in October.  The first time he spoke he was CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.  Schedule for April, 2016 for the first time is Richard Barton (#11), founder of Expedia and Zillow.

    Others that we have been fortunate to have in the series include PACCAR’s Mark Pigott (#23), Tomio Moriguchi from Uwajimaya (#24), and wireless guru John Stanton (#29).

    I often tell students and parents that Seattle is a great town for a business school to be in.  What more proof do you need than the Albers Executive Speaker Series and the great business leaders our students get to hear from!



    Commencement 2015

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/16/2015 06:01:17 PM

    The 2015 Commencement of Seattle University took place on June 14 th .  Among the 1700 university graduates were 284 undergraduate and 247 graduate students from the Albers School.  The latter group included our first Bridge MBA class, which we launched in September, 2013.  Our faculty and staff are very proud of all these students and have high expectations for them.  We know they will go out to live the Albers mission -- be exceptional values-driven business leaders committed to the Common Good!  

    In the undergraduate commencement ceremony, Mark K. Shriver was the honorary degree recipient.  Shriver is president of Save the Children Action Network, which works to end child and maternal mortality globally and to improve access to early childhood education in the US.  In his remarks to the graduates, Shriver drew upon life of his father, R. Sargent Shriver, and talked about leading a life built around love, faith, and hope.

    In the graduate ceremony, the honorary degree recipient was Killian Noe, founder of Recovery Café.  Recovery Café serves people recovering from experiences with addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.  In her remarks, she reminded graduates of the importance of identifying their gifts and understanding what the gifts of others are, then collaborating to make the best use of everyone's talents.  Second, she reminded that shortcomings are ok, and God often has a way of making good use of them if we are open to it.  Third, she observed that while we have come a long way, there is still a lot of discrimination and privilege in our society, so there is plenty of work to do "to level the playing field."

    We have some really exceptional students in the Albers School, and two received special recognition at graduation.  Kim Pugilese received the Paul A. Volpe Award, which goes to the undergraduate student with the strongest academic record.  Volpe was the founding dean of the Albers School and served from 1947 to 1966.

    Chang "Crystal" Yu received the Jerry A. Viscione Award, which goes to the graduate student with the highest level of academic achievement.  Crystal graduated with her Master of Professional Accounting degree.  Viscione was dean of the Albers School from 1988 to 1997.

    Congratulations to all our graduates in the Class of 2015!  We are very proud of you!


    John Dienhart

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/13/2015 12:59:00 PM

    John Dienhart, the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Professional Ethics, is retiring from Seattle University at the end of this academic year.  John has been on our faculty since 1999, and prior to that spent 20 years on the faculty of St. Cloud State University.

    As the Shrontz chair, John has done much to cement and promote the commitment to business ethics of the Albers School.  He launched the Albers Business Ethics Initiative, which evolved into our Center for Business Ethics.  He has organized and hosted international conferences on our campus, developed many ethics workshops for the business community, and overseen the evolution of Albers Ethics Week.  He has also served as director of the Northwest Ethics Network and frequently providing expert commentary to the press on business ethics topics. 

    Of course, John has also been very successful in the classroom, teaching many of our graduate business students over the last 15 years.  He is also highly regarded among his academic peers around the country.  He is past president of the Society for Business Ethics and served as a fellow of the Ethics Resource Center. John has also published four books, a number of articles, and made many presentations on ethics and leadership in business.  

    On June 13 th  we held a dinner to recognize John's many contributions to the Albers School and Seattle University, with his family and a number of colleagues in attendance.  Several of our faculty thanked John for being a mentor and wise colleague.  They appreciated his ability to listen to their concerns and to always see the positive in a situation.  They also lauded him as a voice of reason in important discussions that have taken place in the Albers School.  They also thanked him for his courage, not afraid to say something difficult that needed to be said, and always finding a respectful way to say it.

    When it came time for John to speak, he recalled that when he first entered his doctoral program at the University of Illinois, he received a letter from the department stating, "we have found you to be deficient in ethics."  It was not referring to a character flaw, but the fact that in his undergraduate philosophy training he had somehow missed taking an ethics class.  Now, as a graduate student he had to take that ethics class, and as they say, "the rest is history."  Intending to focus on analytical philosophy, he switched to ethics, and lucky for us!  A good business ethicist is hard to find!

    Among the attendees, we were fortunate to have Frank Shrontz, former CEO of Boeing and the namesake of our ethics endowed chair (which was funded by Boeing).  Frank has been very supportive of John's work, making financial contributions to support the Albers Business Ethics Initiative as well as the Center for Business Ethics.  We are blessed to have the support of someone so universally respected as Frank, who serves as a great role model for our students and alumni. 

    Thank you, John, for everything you have done for Seattle University and the Albers School, and especially for you work with our students and alumni!



    Accounting Awards Banquet

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/30/2015 11:21:17 AM

    The 43 rd  Annual Accounting Awards Banquet took place on May 29 th .  Nineteen scholarship awards and eighteen other awards were presented to our accounting students.  The awards recognized academic excellence, leadership demonstrated in Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), service as accounting tutors, and service in the Volunteers in Tax Assistance program.

    This was Bruce Koch's last year to preside at the banquet as Department Chair.  Bruce is handing the gavel (literally, that is what he did!) to Chips Chipalkatti, who starts as department chair on July 1.  Bruce has done a terrific job leading the department over the last seven years, and many significant improvements and innovations have occurred on his watch.  These include new programs in valuation and internal audit, increased recognition in national rankings, and consistent national recognition for our BAP chapter.

    Like an outgoing President handing out Presidential Pardons, Bruce decided to bestow four Chair Awards this year, all well deserved.  One went to advisory board member and adjunct professor Dave Duffendach, one to incoming department chair Chips Chipalkatti, one to Department Chief Operating Officer Jani Medieros (aka department administrative assistant), and one to retiring faculty member Dave Tinius.

    Of course, Dave (aka "Tinman") is a legendary figure in the department and the Albers School, having served as a faculty member at SU since 1971.  In addition to serving as department chair for many years himself, he founded the Accounting Awards Banquet.  At 43 years it is one of the longest standing traditions at SU!  He also established our Beta Alpha Psi chapter at that time and even served as President of the national Beta Alpha Psi organization, a huge honor and responsibility.

    Much of the evening was spent reviewing the 44 year history of Dave at SU and the accounting department, since they are so intertwined.  Suffice it to say, much has changed since the 1970's as the department has developed into the outstanding program it is today.  Dave had much to do with that, as did the other department chairs along the way - Bill Weis, Susan Weihrich, and Bruce.  Chips is sure to continue that tradition. 

    Dave is such a revered figure among alumni that we were able to establish an endowed Professorship in his name thanks to their contributions!  Today, Chips is the holder of the David E. Tinius Endowed Professorship in Accounting.

    The 43 rd  version of the Accounting Award Banquet was a great event.  It allowed us to celebrate the achievements of our accounting students, to honor a legendary faculty member, and to reflect on the storied history of our Department of Accounting!

    Leo Simpson

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/22/2015 05:13:03 PM

    Leo Simpson, our Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, is retiring from Seattle University at the end of this academic year.  Leo is closing out eight years at SU and an amazing 46 years as a university professor at four different institutions - SU, Western Kentucky, Eastern Washington, and North Dakota.

    Leo is a pioneer and legend in entrepreneurship education.  While entrepreneurs have been around for thousands of years, entrepreneurship as an academic discipline is very young, not getting any real traction until the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Do the math and you will see that is when Leo was starting his teaching career!

    As a teacher, Leo has won teaching awards at three different universities and instructed thousands of students in the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, policy, and operations.  He has proven to be successful at the undergraduate and graduate levels and he frequently employs a project based method in this courses.  His students have garnered many awards at national competitions hosted by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), the National Small Business Institute, and ENACTUS (formerly Students in Free Enterprise).  These awards speak to the quality of Leo's work with countless students over the years.  Leo is a very student focused instructor, and students have always appreciated the personal attention they receive and the support he is willing to provide them.

    During his time at SU, Leo has served as faculty advisor for the ENACTUS program, with several of his teams achieving top rankings and awards in regional and national competitions.  He has also spearheaded our effort to establish a minor in entrepreneurship and then to promote that across the SU campus. 

    Among his colleagues in entrepreneurship education, Leo is highly regarded and known for his significant contributions to the field.  He has received numerous awards and has been recognized by professional organizations as a mentor, fellow, and certified business trainer.  For nearly 25 years he served on the National Small Business Institute Board of Directors and he has also served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Small Business Institute.  In recognition of his career long contributions to ENACTUS, he received the Jack Kahl Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in 2014.

    On May 21 st , we hosted a dinner to recognize Leo for his many contributions and accomplishments in higher education and at SU.  Two themes that emerged were that Leo is a supportive colleague  and an inspirational and caring teacher .  Colleagues who were present talked about the support and encouragement they received from Leo in their work, and former students talked about how Leo focused on their success and inspired them to do things they did not know they were capable of doing.  They noted the important role Leo played in their professional formation.

    A few people observed that they thought Leo's "listening skills" had improved while at SU. :}  Perhaps at first he came thinking he had all the answers, but soon learned he could benefit from the input of a few others every once in a while.  It was also suggested that when Leo first arrived at Albers, he did not really see the point or value of advisory boards (We're big on advisory boards at Albers - we have 11 and soon will have 12!).  It did not take him too long to discover the value of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, however, which he has been unabashed in taking advantage of in recent years! :}

    Leo, thank you for everything you have contributed to SU over the last eight years and thank you for your 46 years of service to entrepreneurship education!  You have had an amazing impact on thousands of students, and that is quite a legacy to have established!


    Leo Simpson engaged in one of his favorite activities outside of teaching entrepreneurship!

    Leo Fishing

    Fred DeKay

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/20/2015 08:45:03 AM

    Fred DeKay is retiring at the end of this academic year.  Fred is a Professor of Economics and has been a full-time member of our faculty since 1980.  Fred served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean between 1988 and 2000.  Fred was also the faculty advisor for Beta Gamma Sigma from 2002 until this year.  BGS is the academic honorary for business schools with AACSB accreditation.  Every year Fred guided the chapter to Premier status!

    On May 19 th , we had a dinner to recognize Fred's many accomplishments and contributions to Albers and SU.  Those in attendance noted that Fred is unflappable.  They said they had never witnessed Fred get angry at others or himself.  As David Arnesen put it, "20/20 is Fred's blood pressure!"  That is quite a statement considering the twelve years he served in the Dean's Office where he surely fielded plenty of complaints! 

    Fred's time in the dean's office certainly benefitted the current dean.  Having been on both sides of the table and frequently seeing that issues are often not black or white, Fred always remained subtle and understated when telling you that something was a bad idea.  Few in higher education take that approach!

    Fred also has the reputation of being a "good citizen." He has always been willing to do more than his fair share of the extra work we always ask faculty to do.  He's the one who is happy to come in on Saturdays and Sundays for the admissions events!

    A few colleagues expressed their displeasure with Fred's prowess on the basketball court and golf course.  They think he's too good for his own good, although they do look forward to playing more golf with him in retirement.

    What I will always remember Fred for is that he spent a long time in the Dean's Office (twelve years), where he was not doing much teaching or scholarship.  When he returned to the faculty full-time, he not only had to figure out how to restore his teaching effectiveness, he also went about determining what he needed to do to be promoted to Full Professor in the way of establishing a research agenda.  Both are very hard to do after you stop doing them, but Fred stuck with it and did both and he was promoted to Full Professor in 2012.  That does not happen very often and serves as a great example to his colleagues!

    Speaking of teaching, Fred is frequently the economics professor who  alumni remember from their days at Albers, and Fred has proven he is an effective teacher at all levels - undergraduate, graduate, and executive education.  Marilyn Gist noted that Fred was especially popular with our EMBA students and had a knack for figuring out exactly what they needed to know about the Dismal Science!

    One other thing I will miss about Fred is that Johns Hopkins graduation gown he would wear at BGS award ceremonies and at graduation!  Fred earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins and the robe is a stunning gold in color!  Those ceremonies will now never be the same!

    Having been a member of the SU faculty since 1980, Fred has seen some remarkable changes at SU as the university has progressed to become one of the top comprehensive universities in the West.  That only happened with a lot of Fred Dekay's on campus - good citizens who were good at what they did.  Thank you, Fred, for all you have done for this university!


    For more on Fred DeKay, you can check out the article in the latest Albers Brief  (Winter/Spring, 2015; p. 10):  


    Fred DeKay hiking at Spider Gap in the Cascades:

     Fred at Spider Gap


    Jeff Wilke

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/13/2015 11:04:41 AM

    Jeff Wilke, Senior VP of Consumer Business at, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on May 13 th .  The title of his presentation was, " Our Peculiar Leadership Principles."  It was a great opportunity for our students to learn about the company culture and to discover what lies behind the success of Amazon. Wilke has been with Amazon since 1999 and is widely credited with driving Amazon's successful supply chain operations.  After Jeff Bezos announced in December that he had a leadership succession plan for Amazon (but did not reveal what it was), it was widely speculated that Wilke was next in line (although that is not expected to happen any time soon!).

    The value of Wilke's presentation was not the principles - they can be found on the company website, and I have listed them below.  The real value came with some of the insights he gave behind the principles. 

    For example, in the discussion of DIVE DEEP , he revealed that they spend the first part of meetings silently reading prepared materials, and over the course of a year end up reading thousands of pages.  An interesting fact is that in all those reports the most frequently used word is "will," followed by "customer."

    When discussing the CUSTOMER OBSESSION  principle, as examples he used initial reports on Amazon Smile and Amazon Student to show how the product had evolved from the initial conception to what Amazon does today.  Both were good examples of how customer focus led to a more compelling concept.

    In reviewing the INNOVATE AND SIMPLIFY  principle, he noted that sometimes that meant being misunderstood, and used a 1999 Barron's Magazine  headline to illustrate it - "Amazon.Bomb."  With the benefit of hindsight, I am sure Barron's would like to have that one back!

    When it comes to BIAS FOR ACTION , Wilke emphasized that speed matter.  One should not spend too much time making decisions and must understand that many initiatives are "two way door" decisions.  If it does not work, you can walk it back.

    Finally, for HAVE BACKBONE: DISAGREE AND COMMIT , he recounted his own early opposition to the Kindle.  Of course, he lost that argument, and then needed to commit to the success of the project.  Everything he thought would go wrong did, but Amazon was able to overcome that and create a successful product.

    In the Q&A afterwards, he was asked about the concern of some that Amazon was displacing workers by using lots of automation.  His response was that the company created thousands of jobs last year despite adding in 15,000 new robots. 

    When asked about women in leadership positions at Amazon, he said they need to do a better job there.  He said they do well in category leader programs, but in software and operations positions (such as running plants) they find it very difficult, in part because the availability of women for these positions is a challenge.

    A question was raised about whether the Amazon culture can be appealing to the millennial generation. He felt they were doing well with that segment of the workforce.  If one wants to be successful, it takes hard work over a long period of time.  He thinks millennials are willing to work hard but want more flexibility in doing that, and he thinks that can be worked out.

    When asked what plans Amazon has for mobile and international markets, he said mobile is baked into everything they do - they are hitting all channels.  Regarding plans for international markets, Amazon thinks that is where many potential customers will be, so look for them to be going after them.

    Finally, when asked about the disappearance of the middle class, he said the answer is education.  We have to be training people to be ready for the jobs that will be available.  We are not doing that now, as thousands of software jobs go unfilled in our region.  We'll need to do better in the future.

    It was a great opportunity for our students to hear from one of Amazon's top leaders and a great way to end the 2014-15 edition of the Speaker Series!  See you in 2015-16!


    Amazon's Peculiar Fourteen Leadership Principles:

        Customer Obsession

        Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.


        Leaders are owners. They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say "that's not my job."

        Invent and Simplify

        Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

        Are Right, A Lot

        Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.

        Hire and Develop the Best

        Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.

        Insist on the Highest Standards

        Leaders have relentlessly high standards - many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

        Think Big

        Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

        Bias for Action

        Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.


        We try not to spend money on things that don't matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.

        Vocally Self Critical

        Leaders do not believe their or their team's body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

        Earn Trust of Others

        Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.

        Dive Deep

        Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.

        Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

        Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

        Deliver Results

        Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.





    Something New at the Bottom Line

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/12/2015 01:07:14 PM

    Have you noticed a change at the Bottom Line in the PACCAR Atrium?  Something new in the signage, perhaps?  After overlooking it for a number of years, it occurred to me that it was not a good idea to keep the WM stock ticker symbol.  And what does the WM stand for?  Why it is Washington Mutual, of course, not exactly a model organization to call out for our students!

    No one ever complained about the WM, at least to me, so why bother?  My answer - I always sweat the details!

    Or, you might want to argue that the WM should remain as a good example of a business that lost its way. My answer - that is easy enough to do without a daily reminder of this Seattle story with a bad ending.

    Now what to replace the WM with is another story.  It seems most companies these days like to use the full four letters they have available for their stock ticker symbol.  After an exhaustive 30 minute search for Seattle based companies, I could uncover only two options - Zillow (Z) and Zulily (ZU). 

    Both are interesting companies that appear to be benefiting from good leadership at the top.  Both are tech based companies.  How to decide?

    I went with Zulily, mainly because if something ever happens to Zulily (such as they get bought out, which everyone says is not going to happen, at least with respect to Alibaba), then it is easy to drop back to Z by removing the U. 

    It will be easier to do that than to order a U and get it installed, should we have started with only Z!

    If you think I am making this up, check out the photo:

    Bottom Line



    2015 Beta Gamma Sigma Award Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/11/2015 08:36:39 AM

    The forty-ninth annual Induction Ceremony for our Beta Gamma Sigma chapter took place on May 8 th .  We inducted ten juniors, twelve new senior students, and 39 graduate students.  Dr. Brian Kelly was also inducted as a new member of BGS.  BGS is the academic honor society for students majoring in business at AACSB accredited schools.  Only the top 10% of undergraduate students and top 20% of master's level students are eligible for invitation to BGS membership.

    Dr. Madhu Rao received the BGS Professor of the Year award.  He was among 31 Albers professors receiving votes from BGS members.  As Chapter Advisor Fred DeKay has noted, this says a lot about the strong teaching in Albers!

    Madalyn Lynch received the 2015 BGS Scholarship, which is presented to junior student who will help lead the chapter for the coming year.

    Dr. Fred DeKay presided over the ceremony as chapter advisor for the final time.  Fred will be retiring at the end of this academic year and is handing the reigns over to Professor David Carrithers.  Fred has done a terrific job as advisor, leading the chapter to Premier status every year.  Thank you Fred for your excellent leadership of our BGS chapter!

    Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of our BGS chapter!  We will have to make some big plans to celebrate!

    Congratulations to all our BGS inductees and awardees!

    2015 Albers Awards Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/11/2015 08:24:46 AM

    The Albers Awards Ceremony and Reception took place on May 8 th .  A total of 25 awards were distributed.  Cody Smith received the Spirit of Albers Award, which is presented to a student our faculty and staff feel best embodies the Albers mission of developing ethical and socially responsible leaders.  Cody was recognized for the many leadership roles he has taken on with the Resident Hall Association of Washington, the SU Redzone, the lacrosse team, and Alpha Kappa Psi.  He has also pursued three internships, participated in the Redhawk Fund, and has done many community service activities.

    The Undergraduate Service Award went to Zach Siriboon.  Zach has served as a New Student Mentor, taken on a leadership role in Beta Alpha Psi as VP for Community Service, worked as an RA, and served as a front desk worker for Albers.   The Graduate Service Award went to Roman Ryans, who among other things, has been very active in our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. 

    The Paul A. Volpe Award is presented to the graduate with the highest academic performance as an undergraduate student, and this year it was awarded to Kim Pugliese.  Kim is an accounting student.  The Jerry A. Viscione Award, presented to the graduate student graduating with the highest academic performance, went to Crystal Yu.  Crystal will graduate with a Master in Professional Accounting degree.

    We also presented eleven club leadership awards and nine other academic achievement awards.

    Congratulations to all our award winning students!

    Undergraduate Business Education

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/17/2015 04:24:56 PM

    A recent Gallup study looked at what the keys to professional success are for those earning an undergraduate degree.  Six experiences as an undergraduate student were identified.  The six were:

    1. A professor who made them excited to learn;

    2. A professor who cared about them as individuals;

    3. A mentor who pushed students to reach their goals;

    4. Working on a long-term project;

    5. Completing a job or internship related to classroom lessons;

    6. Being engaged in extracurricular activities and groups.


    The findings are based on a national survey of nearly 30,000 respondents, which measured engagement with the workplace and community as well as social well-being.

    Another Gallup study, based on the same data, found that business graduates are less likely to find a sense of purpose in their careers.  According to this study, those who majored in business significantly lagged behind their peers in career engagement and other measures of well-being.  It suggests the reasons are (1) lack of emotional support while a student (which seems related to items 1-3 above!) and (2) never having obtained a graduate degree. 

    Naturally, these studies make one want to reflect on the undergraduate experience in Albers.  I'm confident we do very well with the six experiences identified.  Here are some considerations:

    1. We have great teachers in Albers.   Our faculty average 4.2-4.3 on our 5.0 teaching scale.  That is a pretty healthy average.  Our faculty members have won a disproportionate share of campus wide teaching awards, such as the SU Alumni Teaching Award.  When students vote for a school wide teaching award, such as the Beta Gamma Sigma Teaching Award, lots of faculty members get votes, suggesting good teaching is found across a number of faculty.
    2. Professors who care about students.   Whenever I ask students who are about to graduate what was the best part of their experience at Albers, they always talk about the strong ties they developed with faculty members and the support they received.  They say the same about our staff members who work with them on academic advising or career planning.
    3. Mentors who push.   If it is not the faculty pushing our students to be the best they can be, then it might be a staff member, or might be a mentor in the Albers Mentor Program!  Our students have mentors at multiple levels!
    4. Working on a long term project.   We have group projects that frequently take up the whole quarter, including consulting projects for area businesses.  It could also be the more traditional academic research project as part of a class, such as in the History of Economic Thought class and others like it.  It is not always in the classroom.  It could be a service project being pursued by ENACTUS or students participating in the business plan competition. 
    5. Finding a job or internship.   With our own placement center in the business school, finding students internships and jobs is a key priority for us.  The Albers Placement Center does a terrific job of assisting students to pursue these opportunities, as our 95% placement rate would suggest.
    6. Extra-curricular activities.   We have a very large number of clubs in the business school.  By my count, we have at least a dozen specifically for business students, with some of the more active being ENACTUS, Beta Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi, and the Marketing Club.  There are lots of opportunities and we do everything we can to encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities to enrich their learning experience!


    So, in terms of the issue of business students not receiving sufficient emotional support, I think we have that covered in terms of the care they receive from our faculty and staff while they are with us.  Maybe some slip through the cracks, but I do not think there are many.  As for students going on to attend graduate school, outside of our accounting students going on to pursue our Master of Professional Accounting degree in a 4+1 program, and our relatively new 3-3 program with the law school, where students earn an undergraduate business degree and a JD in six years instead of the normal seven, it is hard to say how we do here. 

    We are in the process of redesigning our MS in Finance degree so that some of our undergraduates can continue on to earn the MS degree, a 4+1 similar to the MPAC program.  In the past, we essentially made that impossible with our work experience requirement, which we are now relaxing.  Historically, we have strongly encouraged our undergraduate students to go out and get a few years of professional experience before pursuing a graduate degree.  The challenge for us is to know whether they ever did that, because we have limited information on the subsequent degrees our undergraduate alumni pursue.  Some of our recent initiatives may result in some improvement here, but no doubt there is more that can be done to assure that Albers undergrads go on to pursue graduate degrees with greater frequency.






    Adrian Hanauer

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/17/2015 03:01:57 PM

    On April 16 th , Adrian Hanauer, owner and former General Manager of the Seattle Sounders, spoke on campus as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  His theme was, "The Story behind the Seattle Sounders FC." Hanauer has nearly 30 years of business experience in a variety of industries. For example, he has made early stage investments in technology companies with interests in advertising, infrastructure, and wireless communications.

    He also has plenty of experience with more traditional businesses.   The Hanauer family owns Pacific Coast Feather Co., the nation's largest manufacturer of pillows, comforters, and bedding products. He also owns one of the largest chains of picture framing companies in the United States, and at one point owned a chain of pizza restaurants.

    All that said, Hanauer is best known as the now former GM of the Seattle Sounders, which he led to extraordinary success during the team's first six seasons. Whether it was making the playoffs six years in a row or winning four Lamar Hunt Open Cups or taking last season's Supporters Shield, the accomplishments of the Sounders as a new MLS franchise are unprecedented. 

    Success came on and off the field, as the Sounders set the league attendance record each season since 2009, averaging nearly 44,000 in 2014, 20,000 more than the next-closest team.

    After showing a short video, Hanauer dived into some of the success factors for the Sounders.  According to him, there were twenty different things that needed to happen and the Sounders managed to succeed with all twenty.  Some of it was due to skill and hard work, but according to Hanauer some of it was due to good luck and good timing.  In his view, any successful enterprise can look back and see where being lucky contributed to the organization's success.

    What was some of the luck?  Starting off when the Mariners, Seahawks, and UW football were not very good, as well as being in a city where the demographics were changing to young professional and multicultural.  As Hanauer noted, most people with an accent are soccer fans!

    What did they do that was smart?  Instead of chasing the youth soccer crowd, as other MLS teams had done, they focused on the young professional crowd.  The latter can make weekend games, the former are running to their kids' games on the weekends.  They also created scarcity with seating, holding to about 28,000 in the first year, creating some urgency around getting season tickets rather than people thinking good seats would always be available in a 66,000 seat facility.

    Longer term, Hanauer sees potential to grow average attendance to 50-55,000 per game, and he is confident that the World Cup will be in the US in 2026 and Seattle will be one of the host cities.  Now that fired up the audience!!

    Bill Ruckelshaus

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/4/2015 01:48:47 PM

    Bill Ruckelshaus, CEO of Blucora, was the speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on February 3 rd, 2015.  The title of his presentation was, "Value Creation and the Internet Economy."  Blucora owns a portfolio of Internet businesses including InfoSpace, TaxACT and Monoprice. 

    Ruckelshaus was appointed President and CEO of Blucora in 2010 after serving as a board member beginning in 2007. Prior to joining Blucora, he served as CFO of Audience Science, Inc., an advertising technology and services company. He has also served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Expedia, Inc., where he oversaw Expedia's mergers and acquisitions and led strategic planning.  Prior to that, he worked at Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Group, Frito-Lay, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

    Ruckelshaus preached the importance of resilience and perseverance in succeeding as an Internet based company.  The key is to create loyal customers in a rapidly changing environment.  Both customer acquisition and retention are critical.  With the former, it is important not to be overly dependent on one platform (such as Google), and with the latter innovation is critical to satisfying customers and keeping them as your strongest advocates.

    For example, not wanting to be dependent on Google encouraged Blucora to acquire TaxACT and Monoprice, since InfoSpace was 85% dependent on Google for revenues.  Blucora continues to look for acquisitions, but Ruckelshaus emphasized that the right acquisition is very difficult to find in this market given current valuations.

    In the Q&A, Ruckelshaus provided a number of valuable insights.  On what he thinks makes him an effective leader, he mentioned his ability to delegate, to engage with people, to be a good listener, and to articulate a vision were most critical.

    On "work-life balance," (which I like to call "work-life integration"), he noted he thought he did it "imperfectly," but said that it was important and pointed out that diminishing returns do set in as the hours add up.

    As for his advice to students, he encouraged students to "jump in," meaning follow your passions and do not be afraid to be impulsive as long as you are learning.  Students should recognize that most career paths are not linear or well planned, and you can never predict how an experience will contribute to your professional career.

    Another great opportunity for our students to hear from a successful and respected business leader!





    Top Ten Sporting Events

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/22/2015 08:14:31 AM

    Inspired by the Seahawks come from behind win over Green Bay, and talk of it as the greatest Seahawks game of all time, I decide to come up with my Top Ten list of sporting events attended, with an attempt at ranking them.

    10. Notre Dame over DePaul, 76-74 in double overtime on 2-27-80.  DePaul entered the game ranked #1 and undefeated and ND was ranked #14.  ND was loaded with future NBA players -- Kelly Tripuka, Orlando Woolridge, Gil Salinas, Tracy Jackson, Bill Hanzlik, and John Paxson.  Not sure how Digger Phelps ever managed to lose a game with that group!

    9. UW over Stanford on 2-22-04.  Stanford entered the game undefeated and ranked #1.  Eddie Pasatiempo had front row sets under the South basket.  We saw ourselves on the front page of the Seattle Times sport page the next day!

    8. Creighton over Oklahoma State 66-60 in 1998.  Eddie Sutton, former CU coach, brought his #18 Cowboys to town and received an unexpected loss.  Doug Gottlieb played for OSU and was just as cocky then as he is now, so that made the win even more fun.  I did feel for Coach Sutton, though.

    7. Seattle University over Incarnate Word in the 2004 play in game to the NCAA D2 men's soccer final four.  With less the ten seconds to go, Bobby McCallister dug the ball out of the corner and crossed to Ian Chursky who hit a diving header for the game winner.  SU went on to win the national title.  Never quit before the horn sounds!

    6. Creighton over Clemson, 8-4, in the 1991 College World Series.  Creighton's first appearance after serving as host for many years, and it was nationally televised.

    5. SU over Creighton in Omaha in November, 2013 2-1 in SU's first appearance ever in the NCAA D1 men's soccer tournament.  The game was played in 20 degree temperatures with a 20 mile an hour wind out of the North and snow.  Besides a few parents, I was no doubt the only SU fan there, but how could I not go back for that game??

    4.  Seahawks over the Saints in the 2011 NFL playoffs.  Hawks rode a 7-9 record into the playoffs and beat the Saints 41-36.  It was the game with the first Marshawn Lynch Induced earthquake!

    3. Creighton vs. Wichita State in the 1991 CWS (first game -- they played twice).  CU lost 3-2 in 12 innings and it was no doubt the most electric sporting event I ever attended.  Jimmy Hanson pitch ran for Jason Judge in the 12th inning and was out on a spectacular throw to the plate on a single to center field to deny the tying run.  Jimmy and Jason were students in my Money and Banking class that semester.  The uncle and aunt of the Shocker center fielder were sitting right behind us.

    2. Phillies vs. Houston in first game of the 1980 National Division playoffs.  Phillies won 3-1 and went on to take the series and then beat Kansas City in the World Series.  It was the only game in the series that did not go to extra innings.  I was a grad student at Notre Dame at the time, and the only reason I was back in town for the game was that President Carter was making a campaign stop at my parents' house and I was back for that. He was in the process of losing to Ronald Regan.  I asked him a question about monetary policy and the answer did not help the campaign much!

    1. It's hard to pick #1, but I will go with Creighton's first round win over Louisville in the 1999 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Orlando.  I made the trip when almost no one else did, and the Jays prevailed 62-58.  It had been a while since Creighton had been in the tournament and there seemed to be no institution memory on what to do with it!  Would not be the case today, I am sure.
    There you have it, my Top Ten as near as I can remember it.  There may be others more deserving.  I saw a lot of Big Five games growing up.  And how can you be in South Bend for four years and have only one ND game on the list?? (Hint --  it was the Gerry Faust era.). And haven't I been to a lot of Sounders games??  And these are all guy games --  what about the women??

    Ron Armstrong

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/16/2015 05:09:24 PM

    On January 14th, Ron Armstrong, CEO of PACCAR, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  The title of his talk was "Global Success for the Long Haul," addressing both the long standing consistent operating success of the company and how it has positioned itself as a global player over the last decade.

    In case you do not already know, PACCAR is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands, and, of course, PACCAR has always been a strong supporter of SU, as the naming of the PACCAR Atrium suggests! 

    Armstrong was appointed CEO of PACCAR Inc. this past April. Prior to that, he served as President beginning in 2011 and also was appointed Principal Financial Officer that same year.  Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Financial Services and has held a variety of finance and accounting positions since joining the firm in 1995.

    Armstrong noted that PACCAR has been around for 110 years, beginning as a manufacturer of rail and logging equipment.  It got its start in producing trucks by purchasing Kenworth in 1945, followed by the purchase of Peterbilt in 1958.  In 1996 it purchased DAF and that really launched its move into the global heavy-duty truck market.  To that point, today over 50% of its sales are overseas and that share is continuing to grow.  It is also the world's sixth largest heavy-duty truck producer.

    When asked what will be the biggest developments in the truck market over the next 5 to 10 years, Armstrong mentioned two.  The first is connectivity and second is fuel efficiency.  Connectivity is becoming increasingly important for the efficient operation of truck fleets, so it is highly valued by customers and becoming more sophisticated.  And while fuel prices have dropped recently, the longer run trend is that fuel is expensive and many businesses are anxious to lower their carbon footprint, so fuel efficiency is demanded by the market.

    On the issue of how to build products to minimize environmental impact, Armstrong stressed that the company has to be prepared to meet market demands but cannot lead the market.  In other words, it would not be wise to provide products with lower environmental impact that customers will not buy.  Or, as he put it, "You can't sell a Euro 6 truck in a Euro 4 market."  Nevertheless, they are doing the research now to be ready to meet the environmental specifications that will emerge in the future.

    He was asked what advice he wished he had received when he started his career, and the first thing he said was, "Go for it!" meaning put 110% into what you do, exceed expectations, and take opportunities to learn outside of your specific areas of expertise.

    Some of the things he looks to see in people, beyond their technical competence, include good communication skills, listening skills, a strong work ethic, discipline, respect for others, and engagement.  He also noted that given the increasing globalization of the economy, one needs experience with global markets and to understand some of the differences between the US market and other economies.

    PACCAR does not have a strong brand, as most people outside of Seattle would not know the company controls the Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF brands.  There are plans to change that a bit, but when asked about PACCAR's low profile, Armstrong said he was very comfortable with that.  It allows them to focus on the business and achieve the consistent performance they have experienced over many years.

    It was a terrific opportunity for our students to hear and learn from the new PACCAR CEO.  Ron Armstrong is a great role model for them and they were fortunate to be part of one of his first public speaking events as the CEO!

    Hong Kong

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/23/2014 05:51:08 PM

    From November 15th to 22nd I traveled to Hong Kong to visit with SU alumni, along with Jim Hembree from SU's University Advancement office.  We were able to connect with alums who graduated in the early 1960's and as recent as 2012!  CJ Tan and Peter Lee graduated from SU in 1963 and 1964 respectively, and both are long time supporters of SU.  CJ told the story of how he arrived in Tacoma in a freighter with $100 in his pocket to attend SU, and with the help of many Jesuits and faculty was an accomplished student who went on to earn his PhD at Columbia.  Peter went on to earn his PhD in chemistry at Michigan State and then worked for Coca Cola for many years and led the introduction of Coke to the Chinese market. 

    On November 18th and 19th Jim and I traveled to Guangzhou, China to visit with the family of current student, John Su, who is a student in our Master of Professional Accounting Program.  John's father, Zhigang Su, is the founder of the Chimelong Group, which operates a series of theme parks, including a safari park, zoo, amusement park, water park, circus, and crocodile park in Guangzhou, and the world's largest aquarium near Macau.  This complex of parks is truly amazing and I think November 18th was one of the most interesting days of my life!  Consider the following:

    • Took the train from HK to Guangzhou -- first time to Guangzhou
    • Toured safari park -- it features white tigers, snow tigers and LOTS of other animals
    • Got to see the world's first surviving panda bear triplets, which were born just a few weeks ago, including a behind the scenes tour
    • Got to feed a baby tiger and pet a panda bear
    • Went on scary rides at the amusement park (in suit and tie)
    • Went to the circus (for the first time in a long time!)
    • Had dinner with the Su family

    If you are ever in Guangzhou, you need to visit these parks, and based on how things are done in Guangzhou, I am sure the aquarium is worth a visit on your next trip to Macau!

    On November 21st we had lunch with Derek Yu (Albers, 2003) and Jai Li, CEO of the Handpicked Group. Jay and Albers alum Kevin Dong (2004) founded the Handpicked Group in 2004 with a mission to import Australian wines to China.  Today the company owns four vineyards in Australia, imports wines from Italy, Spain, France, Chile, and Argentina, and has diversified into financial services.  It has also established a company foundation, the Love Foundation, whose mission is to provide needed heart surgeries to low income children in China.  In fact, Kevin was not available for the lunch because he was out of town on Love Foundation business!  Handpicked Group is strongly committed to the triple bottom line, and it is great to see alumni setting a good example for others and living the mission of the Albers School.

    Other alumni that we met with included Drago Chan (Albers, 1995), Patrick White (Albers, 1986), and Derek Ho (Albers, 2005).  Altogether, we met with 15 SU alumni and 10 others during our trip.  The purpose of the trip was to connect with our alumni in Hong Kong and China as part of the university's initiative to strengthen the global experience of our students.  Measured against that goal, this was certainly a successful trip!  And Jim did all the organizing, so I just went along for the ride.  Thanks, Jim! :}

    Installation Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/23/2014 04:58:01 PM

    On November 14th, we installed two new endowed chairholders in the Albers School -- Bridget Hiedemann as the fifteenth holder of the Robert O'Brien Endowed Chair in Business and Suzanne de Jannaez as the eleventh holder of the Thomas Gleed Endowed Chair in Business Administration.

    The O'Brien Chair is named after a former PACCAR executive who was a strong supporter of Seattle University in the 1960's and 1970's.  It rotates among our current faculty and is held for a two year term.  The chair is awarded to support faculty scholarship and activities that enrich the intellectual life of the campus and raise the reputation of the Albers School.  Bridget received the chair because of her strong record in teaching, scholarship, and service, in addition to her proposal to organize a family policy seminar series that will bring to campus scholars working on issues related to gender, family, and sexual orientation.  Bridget teaches courses in statistics, econometrics, and the economics of gender and family.  Her scholarship focuses on labor and demographic economics, and she has published in such journals as The International Economic Review and the American Journal of Public Health.  She previously served as the Patricia Wismer Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies at SU.

    The Gleed Chair is named after Seattle banker Thomas Gleed, and the chair is a two year visiting position designed to attract an imminent scholar from another institution who will work with Albers faculty members on scholarly projects as well as organize activities that will enhance the reputation of the Albers School.  Suzanne was previously on the faculty of the Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland.  She teaches in the areas of leadership, negotiation, and organizational development.  Her scholarship has appeared in the HarvardBusiness Review, Academy of Management Executive, and Journal of Organizational Behavior, and she has published two textbooks.  Her activities will include an initiative to support victims of female trafficking and research on mentoring received by CEOs.

    Bonnie Buchanan was installed as the fourth holder of the George Albers Professorship in Business.  The professorships rotate among our current faculty and are held for three year terms.  The Albers Professorships honor the Albers family, which supported Seattle University for many years and in 2001 left a generous endowment to support the activities of the Albers School.  The family fortune was made in the food processing business, and the Albers brand is now held by Continental Mills, which uses it for its cornmeal and grits products.  Bonnie received the professorship for her strong work in teaching, research, and service.  She teaches in the areas of financial markets and institutions, international finance, and history of finance.  Her research interests include securitization, law and finance, and shareholder activism.  She has published in such journals as the American Business Law Journal, Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, and International Review of Financial Analysis, and she is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Risk Finance.

    Endowed chairs and professorships are important tools for attracting and retaining outstanding faculty.  In the Albers School, we are fortunate to have five endowed chairs and five professorships that support our faculty.  We are also fortunate to have Bridget, Suzanne, and Bonnie as the three new chairholders!  Congratulations to Bonnie, Suzanne, and Bridget!

    Leadership Panel

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/14/2014 01:00:47 PM

    On November 13th the Albers Executive Speaker Series hosted a panel discussion on, "Leadership: Building Agile and Adaptive Teams in a Complex Environment."  The panel included Melanie Dressel, President and CEO of Columbia Bank, Harvey Kanter, Chairman, CEO, and President of Blue Nile, and Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza, Commander of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis McCord.  These three bring an impressive amount of successful leadership experience from three very different sectors.  The panel was moderated by Dr. Marilyn Gist, our Associate Dean for Graduate Business Programs and Director of the Center for Leadership Formation.


    Our three panelists illustrated three different leadership styles, all of which have been successful in their sector or industry - General Lanza in the military, Harvey Kanter in retail, and Melanie Dressel in financial services.  At the same time, it was noteworthy how they continually mentioned common themes in building successful organizations.  Competence among employees is expected but not sufficient.  They emphasized the importance of  trust, both in them gaining trust from their colleagues but them also trusting colleagues to make the right decisions and learn from experience.  They also noted the importance of finding people of  character  who would embrace the values of the organization.  They each noted the importance of establishing a culture of  teamwork, who understand it is about the mission of the organization and what the team can accomplish.  It is not about what is in it for the individual employee.  Finally, each panelist emphasized the importance of leading by example.  All of their colleagues watch what they do, and they must always remember to be consistent and faithful to the values and culture of the organization in their own actions.


    The panel discussion was a great opportunity for our students and it was great to see how the panelists reinforced values and lessons that the Albers School conveys to students!  Thank you panelists!

    Stein Kruse

    Posted by Liz Wick on 10/22/2014 04:13:11 PM

    On October 21st, Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group (HAG), kicked off the Albers Executive Speaker Series for 2014-15. As CEO of HAG he heads up Princess, Holland America Line, Seabourn, MANCO, and P&O Cruises Australia. Altogether, Kruse oversees 41 ships and more than 36,000 employees who provide 25 million passenger cruise days annually.

    Kruse has a career in the cruise industry that stretches back to the early 1980’s. At that time the industry served one million passengers. Today, it serves 21 million passengers, so it is an industry that has seen very strong growth. Kruse believes there is now tremendous potential in the Asian market, especially in China where he predicts the number of passengers will grow over the next five years from 200,000 to five million!

    In his remarks, Kruse stressed that there are certain core values that are important to HAG and him as its leader – safety for passengers, environmental stewardship, and acting with honesty and integrity. He also passed on the eight essentials he sees as needed for effective leadership:

    1. Maintain your integrity at all times.
    2. Be well informed about what is happening in the organization.
    3. Declare the vision for the organization.
    4. Show uncommon commitment to the mission and lead by example.
    5. Expect positive results.
    6. Look after your people.
    7. Remember that the organization is bigger than any one person and do not let your ego get in the way.
    8. Stand front and center and be ready to stand on the stage to communicate with all stakeholders.

    Kruse also spoke about the difference between management and leadership. Management is task oriented; leadership is guiding.

    In the Q&A, he talked about the complexity of serving customers from different countries and cultural backgrounds. There are many changes that have to be made on a boat as you move from one group of customers to another. HAG has much experience doing that, and he was confident they would be successful with a new group of guests from new markets such as China.

    Kruse also spoke to the rise of Big Data in the industry. They collect a tremendous amount of information on passengers, and the industry is becoming better and better at using it.

    When asked if leaders are born that way or can they learn it, he thought it was mostly the latter and it is hard work. There may be a few people who are born leaders, and there may be some of us who will never be effective leaders, but most of us are capable of learning how to lead, and you have to make an effort at it if you are to be successful.

    Dean Karlan

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/19/2014 09:51:02 AM

    The Second Annual Howard Bosanko Lecture on October 14th featured Professor Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University and President of Innovations for Poverty Action.  The title of his talk was, "Pragmatic Optimism in the Fight Against Poverty: Lessons from Behavioral Economics."

    The Bosanko Lecture was organized by Professor Meena Rishi, who is the holder of the Bosanko Professorship in International Economics and Finance.

    Karlan's talked about the use of controlled experiments to develop remedies to market failures in developing nations that often impede economic development.  One example he gave was a situation where farmers refused to use fertilizer in crop production.  The two impediments to fertilizer use are the expense (do farmers have the capital to buy the fertilizer?) and the risk (other factors such as weather undercut fertilizer effectiveness and earnings).  Karlan's team ran an experiment to provide the capital as well as to provide weather insurance.  As a result of the experiment, they found that weather insurance had a much more significant impact on fertilizer use.

    Karlan's point was that there are many small interventions that can be made to improve the lives of people in emerging nations.  Of course, that does not mean there are not more macro impediments to development, it simply means that small changes can have an impact.  These small changes are easier to pull off because they are less of a threat to the status quo.  Making more macro changes such as improved education, macroeconomic stability, or trade liberalization typically threaten vested interests and are resisted. 

    Years ago development economics was one of my areas for research and teaching.  The field was dominated by economists who focused on the market mechanism and who did not really want to acknowledge or deal with market imperfections.  Only people on the fringes did that and they did not get much attention from the mainstream.  Today, those focusing on market imperfections are dominating the field.  Behavioral economics and randomized trials are carrying the day.  Just this year, all SU freshmen were asked to read Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, which also focused on randomized trials and fighting global poverty.  It is interesting to see how the dominant view in a field can change in a relatively short period of time.

    In any event, the Bosanko Lecture was a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty to hear about cutting edge work in the global development field.  Congratulations to Professor Rishi for creating the opportunity!



    Mentor Program 25th Anniversary

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/6/2014 10:27:02 PM

    The 2014-15 Albers Mentor Fair took place on October 2nd.  This is the 25th year of our Mentor Program, and during that time over 4500 students have benefitted from the wisdom and guidance of over 1000 mentors.

    The event started in the PACCAR Atrium, with some 300 students, mentors, faculty, and staff in attendance.  The atrium was full of energy as students and mentors networked, in anticipation of the "speed dating" meetings between mentors and students in Pigott Building classrooms.  The high energy level illustrates the high level of engagement of our students, faculty, staff, and mentors.

    This year we expect over 150 mentors and over 300 students to participate in the program.  Our thanks go out to mentors past and present for their support of our students.  We especially thank Jesse Tam, who has been a mentor for all 25 years of the program, and Willie Aikens, who has been a mentor for 24 years.

    We also want to thank our program sponsor, PACCAR, and the staff of the Albers Placement Center, who oversee the program.  Thank you Mary Lou, Hannah, Bethany, Megan, and Paula!

    Here is to another great year for the Albers Mentor Program!


    Chauncey Burke

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/23/2014 11:11:50 AM

    Professor Chauncey Burke is retiring from SU after 37 years of service.  While most of us know Chauncey as a marketing professor, he actually started at SU as a staff member, serving as MBA Program Director for four years beginning in 1977.  He went on to earn his Ph.D at the University of Washington and then joined our marketing faculty.  Chauncey has taught many SU students over the years, and a number of them have told me how influential he was in their SU education and professional careers.

    Among the many highlights in Chauncey's time at SU is his involvement with the Pacioli Society and the famous study tour to Sansepolcro, Italy that took place annually for more than two decades.  Along with Bill Weis and Dave Tinius and others, Chauncey produced the much acclaimed film, Luca Pacioli: Unsung Hero of the Renaissance.  These three colleagues used the film to promote to the world the important role of Pacioli in developing modern day accounting!  Chauncey was a CPA and thus imminently qualified for this endeavor!

    In the 1990's, Chauncey was important in representing Albers to the external community, serving on the local boards of the American Marketing Association and the Seattle Advertising Federation.  Later in his career, he developed an interest in sustainability and how firms could use it for competitive advantage.

    Congratulations to Chauncey on his 37 years of service to SU and the guidance he has provided to his students over nearly four decades!

    Fiona Robertson

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/23/2014 10:02:16 AM

    Dr. Fiona Robertson is retiring from Seattle University this year after 27 years of service.  She has always been known as a high energy and demanding professor and has been a favorite instructor of many students over the years.  She frequently taught the courses in financial markets and institutions and risk management.  As a teacher, Fiona was one of the first in Albers to incorporate service learning into her classes since she could see how it aligned with the SU mission.

    Since 2006, Fiona has served as Chair of the Department of Finance and presided over several US News and World Report Top 25 rankings and the establishment of distinctive programs such as the Redhawk Fund, in which students manage over $450,000 of university endowment funds.  The position of department chair is not an easy one, as the chair has to represent the department to the dean and the dean to the department, and Fiona has done a fine job of striking a good balance between the two.  I really appreciate her willingness to take on this role for the past eight and half years!  Her service has not just been limited to her role as department chair, but over the years she has been very active in the Colleagues program and in representing Albers in the NAEF Scholarship process.


    Fiona is known among our faculty and staff as a very supportive colleague, one always willing to pitch in where needed.  She's also known as someone who is very unselfish and focused on what is best for the school and university, not what is best for her.  As a result, Fiona has had a lot of influence on the school -- when Fiona speaks, people listen to it very seriously, including the dean! :}


    Congratulations to Fiona on her 27 years of dedicated service to SU and Albers.  Through the many students she has taught, she has created an impressive legacy to take pride in.  She will be dearly missed by her colleagues in Albers and around the SU campus.

    Harriet Stephenson

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/17/2014 10:22:55 AM

    Professor Harriet Stephenson is retiring from Seattle University after 47 years of service.  Harriet joined our faculty in 1967 when their were few women holding PhDs in business.  It is a credit to former Dean Jim Robertson that he was smart enough to hire Harriet (and other former faculty members such as Professor Hildegard Hendrickson).  It started a long tradition of Albers having a higher proportion of female faculty members than the average business school.

    Harriet is best known for her founding of our Entrepreneurship Center, now the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.  She started the center in 1989 with very limited resources and laid the groundwork for its success today.  One of its important activities was the Business Plan Competition, which we have now named after her as the Harriet B. Stephenson Business Plan Competition.  I'm glad we were smart enough to do that!

    Harriet was also the first holder of the Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship.  The chair was donated by Kent Johnson in honor of his father, and it was Harriet who engaged Kent in supporting entrepreneurship at SU.  Today the chair is held by Dr. Leo Simpson, and it is key reason for the success of our entrepreneurship initiatives.

    Harriet has also been very active in the Small Business Institute and United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE).  She has served in many leadership roles with those groups and her students have probably accumulated more SBI awards than any other faculty member in the nation (according to Leo, at least!).

    Harriet has also taken on many leadership roles at SU, including department chair, acting dean, president of the faculty senate, and chair of the United Way campaign!

    Harriet has received many awards over the course of her career, both internal and external.  At SU she has received several teaching awards, including Albers Undergraduate Teacher of the Year in 1985 or the SU Alumni Professor of the Year Award in 2009.  Externally, she has received the Paul Sarbanes Spirit National Award for social entrepreneurship and the National Small Business Institute Directors Fellow Award, among others.

    Despite all these accomplishments, Harriet has remained very humble and just gone about doing the work that she does.  She was never one to seek the spotlight, but the spotlight found her.  She was an important mentor for many of her Albers colleagues and considered by all to be one of the most supportive individuals in our school.

    On behalf of the thousands of students at SU that you have served, and your colleagues in the Albers School, thank you for everything you have accomplished and contributed to Seattle University, Harriet!


    Professor Harriet Stephenson:


    Harriet Stephenson



    Graduation 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/16/2014 04:01:30 PM

    June 15th was graduation day at Seattle University.  Some 229 graduate students and 346 undergraduate students from Albers received their degrees this year.  Highlights of the ceremonies in Key Arena included Margaux Helm receiving the President’s Award for the top academic performance among SU undergraduate students.  Albers student Nichole Abbey gave the undergraduate student address.  Leadership EMBA graduate Mark Eaton received the Provost’s Academic Award for the top academic performance among SU graduate students.  Albers alum Gary Brinson received an Honorary Degree from SU at the graduate student ceremony in the afternoon.

    In his remarks, Gary gave the audience some advice on investing for retirement.  It might best be summarized as start early and put it in index funds with low management fees.  All SU faculty and staff will be happy to know we have those options in our SU retirement plan! :}  Gary also brought up the $15/hour minimum wage law in Seattle.  He noted that he worked his way through SU working at Oberto Sausage and was paid $1.25/hour.  The equivalent of today's $15 back then is $2.25, double the pay rate.  He suggested that at the higher wage Art Oberto would not have been able to afford to hire Gary Brinson, and wondered where would Gary Brinson be today if he had not had the job at Oberto's.  His point was to illustrate the unintended consequences of the $15/hour wage law, namely a decline in employment opportunities for low skill new entrants into the job market.

    Some in the audience did not appreciate that perspective, but others appreciated Gary having the courage to raise the issue.  It's clear the unintended consequences of the new law have not received much consideration in the rush to get legislation approved before a ballot initiative is organized.  For example, consider the impact of the legislation on the SU campus and our use of student workers.  Most students working on campus make much less than $15/hour.  When the law goes into effect, it is unlikely the university will raise its student worker budget.  Instead, we will have the same funds to pay at the higher hourly rate, meaning we will have fewer hours for students to work on campus.  Total student income may not change, but there will be fewer students working, and it will certainly be harder to get work done! :{

    Two Albers staff members received degrees from SU – Nadeje Alexandre (graduate student advisor) received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Evinn Hickey (undergraduate student advisor)  received her Master’s in Student Development Administration.  Congratulations to Evinn and Nadeje!

    The university is endeavoring to shorten both graduation ceremonies and those results are starting to pay off.  I think you will see even more progress next year in getting the undergraduate ceremony to move along.

    On a personal note, my son Greg graduated this year with undergraduate degrees in business and French, meaning he was able to walk across the stage twice, and I was able to present him with his business diploma.  (Actually, it's not the diploma, just the cover, because we do not give out diploma's at graduation.  We mail them later!)  It was a pleasant surprise that he was able to participate in the ceremony.  You see, he will spend the summer fishing for salmon in Alaska and the boat was supposed to head North on June 9th, but a series of repairs is keeping them here until June 17th, so he was able to participate at the last minute.  That was a good Father's Day present for me!

    The dean and son, Greg, on stage at graduation (photo courtesy of Jerry Huffman):

    Graduation 2014



    Hildegard Hendrickson

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/8/2014 04:25:57 PM

    June 8th marked the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Dr. Hildegard Hendrickson, retired faculty member of the Albers School.  While hiking to pick mushrooms, Hildegard disappeared and has not been found since, despite the efforts of many to find her.

    Hildegard was a member of our faculty from 1967 to 1996 and during that time served as department chair and finance professor.  There were about 80 friends, colleagues, and former students in attendance.  It was a good opportunity to bring together two communities who were very important in Hildegard's life -- Seattle University and the Puget Sound Mycological Society.

    The Puget Sound Mycological Society donated an apple tree to the university, along with a memorial plaque recognizing Hildegard.  The tree is planted just South of the Hunthausen Building.  Our ceremony started with Fr. Steve Sundborg, SJ, President of SU, blessing the tree.  FYI, the small tree already has four apples growing on it!

    We then heard prepared remarks from representatives of SU and the Mycological Society.  Representing SU were Dr. John Eshelman, former Dean and Provost, and Dr. Rex Toh, retired Professor of Marketing.  They recounted several good Hildegard stories that everyone could relate to.

    They were followed by the two representatives of the Mycological Society, Marian Maxwell, current president, and Ron Post, past president.  They wanted it known that Hildegard's teaching was not limited to SU, but she played a very influential teaching role in the society, becoming one of the leading mushroom experts in the organization and in the Puget Sound region.

    Everyone used the same words to describe Hildegard -- honest, direct, reliable, caring, organized,...  Hildegard was a remarkable individual.  We all miss her very much.


    Here is a picture of the apple tree:


    Apple Tree

    Red Winged Leadership Award 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/8/2014 04:08:52 PM

    On June 7th, the Fifth Annual Red Winged Leadership Award Ceremony took place in Campion Ballroom.  The Red Winged Leadership Award (RWLA) is conducted by students in our Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization under the direction of Professor Jennifer Marrone.  Each year the event is taken to a new level by the students.  The big change this year was to move it to a dinner format.  The move was very successful, as over 225 were in attendance.

    The RWLA recognizes unsung individuals in the community for their social impact, business acumen and leadership.  Each year the cohort identifies three such leaders who are having a profound impact on our community.  This year was no exception, as the three nominees were:

    * Tavio Hobson, founder of A+ Youth Program, which uses sports as education tool for children in the South Seattle area.

    * Lance Moorhouse, Executive Director of Sherwood Community Services in Lake Stevens, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

    * Jessica, Reasy, Executive Director of Redeeming Soles, which provide footwear to organizations serving the homeless and underprivileged throughout the Puget Sound.

    All three were winners that evening, but Tavio Hobson was selected as the 2014 Red Winged Leadership Award winner.  Congratulations to Tavio, Lance, and Jessica for the great work they are doing in our community!

    Phyllis Campbell, Chairman, Pacific Northwest for JP Morgan Chase, was the keynote speaker.  Phyllis is also past trustee of Seattle University and past board chair, so she is great supporter of the university.  As one of the most respected business leaders in our community, Phyllis was uniquely qualified to give the keynote at this event!  She addressed the topic of what skill sets leaders of the future would need, identifying the "Three I's."  Future leaders will need to embrace innovation, work to integrate the operations of their organization so that they are inclusive, and to have inner strength -- to know how to hold your ground while also listening to others.

    Congratulations to the students for identifying such great awardees and for their event planning skills in putting together such a great and inspiring evening!  The faculty and staff of the Albers School are very proud of the work our students do in this program!




    Appreciation Celebration 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/3/2014 10:02:25 AM

    On May 30th, the university hosted its annual Appreciation Celebration for Faculty and Staff.  Those from Albers receiving special recognition included:

    Peggy Allende - 35 year award - in case you do not know, Peggy is the Administrative  Assistant for our Departments of Economics and Finance and is a master at keeping these two groups on track! 

    Al Ansari and David Arnesen - 30 year awards 

    Carl Obermiller, Rubin Trevino, and Susan Weihrich - 25 year awards 

    Vinay Datar and Bridget Hiedemann - 20 year awards 

    Sarah Bee, John Dienhart, Ben Kim, and Gail Lasprogata - 15 year awards 

    Chips Chipalkatti, Susan Earley, Katya Emm, Jennifer Marrone, and Meena Rishi - Ten year awards 

    April Atwood and Colette Hoption - Five year awards

    Collectively, that represents 330 years of service to SU and Albers! 

    Chauncey Burke, Fiona Robertson, and Harriet Stephenson were recognized as retirees after 37, 27, and 47 years of service respectively.  That's 111 years between the three of them! 

    Congratulations to all these faculty and staff and thank you for your service to SU and Albers!


    Presentation Season

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/3/2014 08:58:39 AM

    We are nearing the end of the school year and it is that time of the year for student presentations!  Presentations are frequently a class requirement as we use them to assess the knowledge and skills of our students as well as to showcase the talents of our students! :} 

    On June 1st I was supposed to be in two places at once to see presentations from two groups of students - one was the Albers Undergraduate Leadership Program in Pigott 202 and the other was the International Development Internship Program (IDIP) TED-like presentation in Student Center 130.  What to do?  I split the difference! 

    I went to the undergraduate leadership program presentations first.  The students are charged with identifying an issue on campus and coming up with a solution.  The four projects that were identified were finding more opportunities for community service, improved communication about Albers club opportunities, unspent money on the campus meal plan, and dorm safety.  It listed to the presentations on the first two issues.

    The first group presented its project, Simple Service.  It was a lunchtime event in the Student Center encouraging students to pursue service activities, and the students were pleased with the response they received.  Over 120 students stopped by to engage in the four activities, which included answering questions to fund rice donations, participating a food and clothing drive, signing up to work with one of three service-focused service clubs (ENACTUS, Just Serve, and Rotoract), or writing a letter to a soldier serving overseas.  The students did a fine job explaining the project and what they learned in the process.  Their learnings included some things that deans learn, such as lots of people don't respond to an email message! :}

    The second group did a project around improving communication from Albers student organizations.  They noted that in the beginning of the academic year, the school did a good job of getting information out about clubs, but for many students that is not a good time to absorb that information.  How do they get this information later in the school year when they can act on it?  The group first set about making suggestions for improving the Albers School website so that information about our clubs is more accessible and up to date.  I am happy to say we were smart enough to immediately make those changes! :}

    Second, the club wanted to establish a bulletin board in the PACCAR Atrium to provide a convenient and efficient spot for Albers club information.  That is still a work in progress as they still need to identify the write space for this.  Stay tuned!  I have no doubt this group will finish this off! 

    After witnessing these two great presentations, I made the assumption that the remaining two would be equally good, and headed for the Student Center to check on the IDIP TED talks.  There were 14 talks scheduled beginning at 6:00 PM.  By the time I arrived they were at talk number three.  I listened to that one, as well as the next three, two of them by Albers students Sofiya Kostareva and Juliet Le. 

    Sofiya's talk was about her experience in Thailand, where she worked for an NGO protecting elephants.  She contrasted the opportunities she had as a college student in the US with the much more limited opportunities her friends in Thailand had, concluding that she was living a dream that someone else had, meaning that someone else was living the dream she had, so we should all pursue our dreams.  During her presentation I could not help but think that the opportunities today's students have far exceed those in my generation.  There was no IDIP when I was an undergrad (and of course, there is no IDIP on any other campus that we are aware of!)!  IDIP is a great opportunity for SU students!

    Juliet's presentation was based on her visit to Vietnam where she worked at a health research NGO.  She talked about the importance of meeting new people and gave examples of three women she met in Vietnam.  Each was an important part of her IDIP experience, and she encouraged everyone to reach out to the seven billion strangers that are out there.

    The four IDIP presentations were all well done and all very different.  In any event, they were a great showcase for our talented SU students.  Welcome to Presentation Season!

    Jerry Stritzke -- REI CEO

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/1/2014 05:31:13 PM

    On May 29th, our Marketing Club, which is now affiliated with the American Marketing Association, hosted Jerry Stritzke, new CEO for REI.  Stritzke has been CEO at REI since October. 

     Stritzke is the seventh CEO in the history of REI, and he mentioned that he would be meeting with Jim Whitaker, one of his predecessors.  I made sure to tell him that Jim, the first America to climb Mt. Everest, is an alum of Seattle University, having played basketball at SU in the early 1950's!

    Stritzke started his presentation by tracing his career path, explaining how he went from being a less than diligent student to becoming CEO of REI, with stops at Coach and Victoria Secret along the way.  His point was to illustrate to students that their careers can move in unpredictable ways.

    Stritzke then moved to give some advice on managing one's career.  He noted the importance of networking, and how it had been critical to his success.  Second, he emphasized the importance of picking your own boss, someone who would be supportive and successful in his or her own right, because as the boss succeeds the boss can do more for you.  Third, pick the best experience, not the highest paying job.  Early in your career it is important to get experiences that will make you a more productive and talented worker.  These are not necessarily the positions that will generate the most income.  If you pick the roles that will offer the most learning, it is bound to reward you later.

    He ended with some thoughts on leadership.  First, it is important to ask great questions.  You have to be able to learn from others with the situation really is.  Second, leaders have to be life long learners.  They have to know how to learn and keep improving themselves.  Finally, leaders need to understand "it's not about me."  They need to know they are in their role to move the organization forward by empowering those who are part of the organization.

    It was the final event of the year for the Marketing Club, and the club certainly went out with a bang!  Congratulations to the club for inviting a leader of the caliber of Jerry Stritzke to campus.  We'll have to get him back someday soon!

    42nd Annual Accounting Awards Banquet

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/1/2014 05:07:53 PM

    The 42nd Annual Accounting Awards Banquet took place on May 30th.  Forty-two years speaks to a strong tradition for our Department of Accounting.  No wonder our accounting graduate program is ranked fourteenth in the nation by US News and World Report!

    The evening featured the awarding of 15 scholarships, three academic awards, and one service award.  Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting academic honorary, also presented eleven leadership awards to members.  Our BAP chapter is top notch, having won the BAP Gold Chapter Award for three consecutive years.  Only a handful of the over 300 BAP chapters nationally receive this award each year, so to win in three consecutive years is exceptional.

    Professor Sarah Bee and Dominique Vincenti, chair of our Internal Audit Advisory Board, received the prestigious Chair's Award for their contributions to the development of our Internal Audit program.  The Chair's Award is given each year to someone who provides outstanding service to the Department of Accounting.

    Congratulations are in order to the Department of Accounting on the occasion of its 42nd Annual Accounting Awards Banquet!

    Jim Weber -- Brooks CEO

    Posted by Liz Wick on 5/28/2014 06:07:28 PM

    Jim Weber, President and CEO of Brooks Running, was the speaker at the Albers Executive Speaker Series on May 27th. The title of his talk was, "Building a Loved Running Brand," and he gave an enthusiastic, high energy presentation that began with him declaring he has "the best job in Seattle!" And now Brooks is in Seattle and will move into its new Fremont-based headquarters in August. 

    This is the 100th year anniversary for Brooks, which was founded in my hometown of Philadelphia. When Weber took over in 2001, Brooks was a full-line athletic footwear and apparel company, and having little success in trying to be "everything to everybody." Weber shifted the strategy to focus on high end running shoes at a time when that was unusual and risky - and it worked. Although annual revenues initially fell from $65 million to $45 million, today Brooks is now over $500 million and climbing.


    Brooks did this by establishing a brand that is about "celebrating the run," and no other company is positioned this way. This required producing high quality product that creates trust, but also establishes a connection with the customer who takes running seriously. Brooks has strived to create an inspirationalbrand, as opposed to Nike which has created an aspirational brand via celebrity endorsements.

    Weber closed his opening remarks with some insights on leadership. First, "you have to have a point of view." You have to have a vision and know where you want to take the organization. Second, "you have to play to win." Decide what markets you are going to operate in and invest to do well there. Don't have a bunch of businesses that suffer from lack of resources and investment. Third, "play for the long haul." Do not focus on short term results and understand that success does not come overnight. Great businesses are built over decades, not years.


    In the Q&A, Weber was asked about the company's commitment to sustainability. He clarified that for Brooks, sustainability is a value, it is not a strategy. It is want employees want to stand for. People will not pay more for elements of sustainability in the products they purchase.


    Weber said that from 2001 to 2009, the company focused on what runners needed, doing significant scientific research on how their shoes should be designed for comfort and performance. After 2009, Brooks started listening to customers to see what they wanted. This resulted in more changes to design and appearance - for example, more distinctive colors and look. For several years, Brooks' pivot to high end running shoes was under the radar, but by 2007 others started jumping into the market, including specialty retailers such as North Face and other shoe companies such as Puma. No one limited themselves to the running category, however.


    Weber emphasized the important role that high quality products play in building trust. Brooks needed to become a trusted brand, and to be trusted required high quality product. He also noted the importance of winning over "key influencers," which in the running world is the staff working in specialty running shops, sports medicine personnel, physical therapists, etc….

    When asked about sensor technology and wearable sensors and how that would be incorporated into the running products of the future, Weber answered that while that technology would become increasingly popular, he did not think it would end up in shoes and apparel. Instead, it would be incorporated into other items such as ear buds. In other words, he did not think Brooks needed to be investing in that - someone else is going to control that space.


    In response to a question about what were the most useful topics he learned about in business school, his answer was that he found his business strategy classes to be very useful, especially working through case studies. Leadership was another area that was very valuable. Everything he learned about leading and connecting with people has been very important in contributing to his success. Disappointing to see him get this wrong and not mention ECONOMICS as the most useful topic in b-school! :}



    Business Plan Competition 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/21/2014 09:00:05 AM

    The Sixteenth Annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition took place on May 20th.  There were over 200 in attendance.  The $10,000 Grand Prize Winner was   Wanderlust featuring undergrad students Alex Walz and Jonathan Parsay.  Wanderlust is an on-line platform for cross-cultural communications that empowers travelers to meet-up, and share insights, with locals and like-minded fellow travelers.

    Receiving the $5000 Meisenbach Prize for Second Place was Skywise, led by LEMBA student James Faulknor and Richard Farnsworth.  Skywise is a Veteran owned consulting agency to address the need for efficient policy navigation by drone operators.

    The Third Place Awards of $3000 went to Shadow Dog Industries, developed by undergrad students Tyler Petersheims and Cyrus Fien, and Unleash the Brilliance, presented by undergraduate students Tim O'Reilly and Amanda Waite along with Terrell Dorsey.  Shadow Dog provides portability to a musician's amplifier. It also doubles as a stage platform that enhances the sound coming from the amplifier.  Unleash the Brilliance is a not for profit organization that assists youths in creating successful ventures inside and outside of school.

    All the teams made great presentations and made it very hard on the panel of judges.  From time to time some have wondered about the wisdom of allowing undergraduate students to compete with grad students, noting that grad students would seem to have an advantage.  Perhaps that is true, but three of the four finalists this year were undergraduate teams, suggesting that undergrads can hold their own!

    Professor Harriet Stephenson was recognized at the awards ceremony for her many contributions to the business plan competition and entrepreneurship education over the course of her career at Seattle University.  That's why the competition is named after her!  Harriet is retiring at the end of this academic year after 47 years of service to Albers and SU!  Thank you, Harriet!







    Business Ethics Week 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/13/2014 03:43:56 PM

    May 5-9 was Business Ethics Week in the Albers School.  Throughout the week, nearly 70 business professionals visited more than 100 classes to discuss a business ethics challenge they had faced at some point in their careers. Over 80% of Albers classes participated.  There were also three keynote speakers during the week:

        Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks International, on May 5th.
        Andy Hinton, VP for Ethics and Compliance at Google, on May 6th.  He also spoke at the Albers Alumni Breakfast Series the morning of May 7th.
        Nancy Higgins, VP for Ethics and Compliance at Bechtel and Carolyn Barton, Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer at Group Health, on May 7th.

    The purpose of Business Ethics Week is to emphasize to students the importance of ethical behavior in the conduct of business, and to show that it is essential in order to be successful as a professional.  The idea for Business Ethics Week came from the advisory board of the Center for Business Ethics.  Originally, the idea was to have members of the board pick a day and cover classes throughout the day.  We challenged the board to cover all the classes meeting on a particular day and to include other business professionals.  In the first year, the event went reasonably well, but we received inquiries from students and faculty members who were not in class for what was Business Ethics Day.  In the second year, we established Business Ethics Week, which would allow more classes to participate. We tried to cover all the classes meeting during a week, and ended with 84 classes participating, about 70% coverage.  This was the third year and the second year for Business Ethics Week, and we were able to expand coverage to over 100 classes. 

    Business Ethics Week was sponsored by the Albers Center for Business Ethics, with Professor Marc Cohen and grad student JP McCarvel doing much of the work.  Congratulations to them on a successful Business Ethics Week!

    Albers Awards Ceremony 2014

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/10/2014 04:33:02 PM
    The Albers School Awards Ceremony for 2014 took place on May 9th in Pigott Auditorium.  Twenty four awards recognizing student academic achievement and leadership were given to Albers students.  Some of the awards included;

    The Spirit of Albers Award was given to economics student Megan Morris.  Megan has worked for NGO's in India and Peru while also maintaining a high academic performance.  She has also interned with a local labor union and presented two papers at the National Undergraduate Research Conference, one on how the minimum wage law impacts the gender wage gap and one on how foreign aid impacts economics development.  Megan was recognized for her academic and service work.

    Tim O'Reilly received the Albers Undergraduate Service Award.  Tim has played an important leadership role in our ENACTUS chapter, and in the process been involved in many service activities, stretching from Seattle to Nepal.

    Loc Nguyen  received the Albers Graduate Service Award.  Loc has served as president of the Albers Graduate Student Association and helped re-establish the group as an active organization.

    Margaux Helm received the Paul A. Volpe Award for the graduating business senior with the highest academic performance.  Margaux will also receive the President's Award at graduation, given to the senior graduating from the university with the highest academic performance.  Margaux will share the award with three other SU students this year. 

    The Volpe Award is named after Paul Volpe, the founding dean of the Albers School who served as dean from 1947 to 1965.  Just so you know, I am planning on passing that guy in five years as the longest serving dean at Albers! :}

    Robert Hall received the Jerry A. Viscione Award for the highest academic performance among our graduate students.  Robert is a student in our Professional MBA program.

    Viscione was dean of the Albers School from 1986 to 1997, when he left SU to become Executive VP at Marquette.

    After the awards ceremony, the 2014 Beta Gamma Sigma installation took place.  BGS is the academic honorary for business schools accredited by AACSB.  Fifteen juniors, twenty seniors, and 47 graduate students were installed in BGS.  The ceremony was organized by chapter advisor, Dr. Fred DeKay. 

    Dr. Bill Weis received the BGS Professor of the Year award, as voted on by the BGS students.  Congratulations to Bill!

    Shanghai 2014

    Posted by Liz Wick on 5/5/2014 04:40:40 PM

    April 24-28 I travelled to Shanghai to visit with our partner school, Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). There were two items on the agenda. The first was to attend a conference hosted by SISU on "The Shanghai Free Trade Zone and Preparing Interdisciplinary Students for the Global Economy." This may seem like an odd pairing for a conference, but the two are connected in the sense that Shanghai is looking to its relatively new FTZ as a catalyst for growth through innovation, and they know they need to prepare creative and entrepreneurial leaders to succeed, thus the second theme of education.


    I was asked to make a presentation on trends in business education. First I discussed the new environment higher education faces in terms of the disruptive change being caused by technology and the increased challenges coming from the affordability of higher education. I then explored four important trends in business education -- increased emphasis on the integration of liberal arts education in undergraduate programs, increased emphasis on application and experiential education, the globalization of the educational experience, and increased attention to the role of business in society. The full remarks are below, but I don't recommend reading since there are few insights given its length. :)


    The conference ended up discussing two interesting themes. First, there is a strong desire in Shanghai to turn the city into a major financial center, the likes of New York or London. This will be challenging for the city, considering the head start that Hong Kong has and that Beijing is headquarters for many of China's major financial institutions and national government. If a major financial center is to emerge in the Asian region, Shanghai will be hard pressed to be that city.


    The second item that arose was the strong desire to have the Renminbi emerge as the dominant currency in the world market, replacing the US dollar. Many at the conference seemed quite focused on how the RMB had passed other currencies in trading levels. Surpassing the dollar is another matter. There are several issues that will slow down China in this quest, including lack of transparency in the government sector. While the world is amazed at the dis-function in Washington, DC, at least it can see what is going on. In China, one can only guess, and that does not sit well with global investors.


    Second, the Federal Reserve is well understood by financial markets, performed well in the Great Recession, and enjoys political independence. China's central bank is neither understood nor independent.


    Third, China has a fixed exchange rate and financial markets prefer a flexible rate, not trusting government currency intervention. China will be reluctant to allow for a float for the foreseeable future because of the impact on economic activity. The US, on the other hand, is much less dependent on trade and changes in the exchange rate have a limited effect on most of the population. This allows the government to worry less about exchange rates since political backlash is more muted. Not the case in China for now and the foreseeable future.


    Fourth, China lacks the volume of financial activity and the major financial institutions the US has. This will no doubt change over time, but in some respects it is the least important factor. The institutional and governance issues are more important and unlikely to change for quite some time.


    My second reason for visiting SISU was to meet with SISU students interested in enrolling in our 3-2 program with SISU for our Master of Professional Accounting degree. Students attend SISU for three years, then come to SU for two years to study accounting. The students earn their undergraduate degree from SISU and their MPAC from SU. We have been offering this program for several years and the results have been very good. The students are very smart and hard-working and their English is excellent. After all, SISU is a university that focuses on foreign languages, with students required to master a foreign language, and they do a terrific job training their students in English! 


    This year I interviewed six students, all of whom I know would be excellent students at SU. I hope we see all of them starting our MPAC program in September!


    Here is a picture of me at Nanjing Road during my recent visit to Shanghai:



    Nanjing Road(3)



    Here is the text of my presentation on business education:


    I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak at this "International Conference on the Influence of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone &Training of Inter-disciplinary Students in a Global Context." Seattle University is very proud to have been able to partner with the Shanghai International Studies University over the last few years, one of China's most distinguished institutions of higher learning. What has impressed us the most about the university is how well you do on the most important measure of a university's success - the accomplishments of your students and alumni.

    If you will indulge me, I would like to speak on emerging trends in business education. My perspective is mostly through the lens of someone working in the US, but I have some global exposure from serving on a board for a global network of universities, as well as sitting on the Initial Accreditation Committee of AACSB (a global business accrediting body) and seeing information on many schools outside of the US who are applying for AACSB accreditation, including schools from China. Thus, I will endeavor not to provide a purely US-centric perspective.


    Certainly, higher education in the US has faced a rapidly changing environment since the Great Recession, and schools, including our university, have been scrambling to respond to a new environment. The two factors that we must contend with are the role of technology in education, and the second is the affordability of higher education. Both these are impacting all areas of higher education, including business education.  


    With respect to technology, we have been hearing much about the disruptive nature of technology on higher education, best illustrated with the growth of MOOCs. They are seen as a threat by many and an opportunity by some. But really, for at least a decade many of us have been bracing for the impact of technology on higher education. We just did not know when it would start to impact traditional providers and in what form. The impact has been gradual and steady. We did not wake up one day and suddenly face a different world.

    On-line delivery has slowly rolled out as different institutions one by one decide to begin those programs. My own institution has been very late to this party, and even now we do not really think about 100% online programs. This is because we want to preserve the personal attention we provide to our students, and want to be sure the use of technology does not disrupt that.

    Instead, we are positioning ourselves to provide "hybrid" or "blended" programs that use both traditional face-to-face education and technology. The technology tools are getting better and they have allowed us to offer a better education to students, to be more successful in what we try to accomplish in our programs. Increased convenience coming from the use of technology is helpful, but by itself not the sole driver.


    Increased convenience of delivery does have some impact on us, though, particularly for our graduate students who mostly work full-time and go to school part-time. We do believe that switching some of the course content on-line and coming to campus less often will be attractive to students trying to balance work, family, and school responsibilities.

    While we do not see ourselves doing degree programs 100% on-line, we are looking at on-line certificate programs, particularly in niche areas where we might have specialized expertise.

    All that said, I think this technology territory is changing very fast and what I say today could be very different a year from now.

    The second issue is affordability. Several things have been happening in the US that impact affordability. First, taxpayer subsidies of public institutions are declining, so state schools are responding by raising tuition and pursuing students who pay higher out of state tuition rates (including students from abroad). Second, employers are cutting back tuition support programs for their employees, so students must rely more on their own financial resources. This especially impacts business graduate programs. Third, students are graduating from undergraduate studies with more debt, and this makes them less willing to take on more debt for graduate school. Fourth, private schools like my own, and increasingly public schools, have been raising tuition well above the rate of inflation year after year. This is not a sustainable practice in any industry. These high tuition levels are supporting high cost structures. In the US, we have lots of brick and mortar infrastructure and we are labor intensive, and both are costly. We are stuck in a "high-cost high-price" model.

    On the one hand, these affordability trends should help our undergraduate programs because affordability issues should make students more career-focused and that should benefit undergraduate business enrollment. On the other hand, they should negatively affect our graduate enrollment because students do not want to take on more debt, they get less assistance from employers, and they hear a drumbeat of criticism of the value of an MBA degree.

    As a consequence most business schools in the US are focusing on their graduate programs these days. They are shortening the time to degree, they are promoting certificates instead of degrees (because they require less time and expense), and they are creating one year graduate degree programs that attract students from overseas, including students from China. Some schools are also using 100% on-line programs to fill the gaps they have been experiencing.

    My sense is that technology and affordability are also issues outside the US, but not to the same degree, at least not yet. It varies by region, of course, with the UK and Australia being much more aggressive in the use of technology. I will be interested to hear from you how you think this plays out in China!

    So against this backdrop, let us talk about some emerging trends in what we deliver. There are four I will mention - liberal arts education, globalization, experiential education, and the role of business in society.

    The first is an increasing emphasis on including liberal arts education in business education. Some private schools, including my own, have had this emphasis all along, but more schools are moving in this direction and being more intentional about integrating the liberal arts curriculum with the business curriculum as opposed to teaching them in silos. Note how this coincided with the interdisciplinary education theme of our conference!

    This interest in liberal arts education in business can be illustrated by a book that was written in 2011, Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education, authored by Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, William Sullivan, and Jonathan Dolle. The book suggests that we need to move beyond narrow technical business training to encourage creativity, critical thinking, sound judgment, and pursuit of the common good. It is hard to argue with this message. In response, the Aspen Institute launched a program to encourage this among business schools, the Aspen Undergraduate Business Education Consortium. The consortium works to integrate liberal learning and undergraduate business education. Approximately 40 business schools from around the world participate in the program, ranging from ESADE in Spain to the University of Pennsylvania in the US, and also includes my institution, Seattle University. It is important to note this applies to the undergraduate business degree. Graduate degrees are too specialized to take on this role.

    A second trend, not especially new, but gaining increasing momentum, is the desire to globalize the educational experience. Thus, you have an ever increasing number of study abroad programs, international study tours, and other experiences overseas. This has led to increasing numbers of collaborations between universities in different countries, such as SISU in China and Seattle University in the US. There are increasing numbers of programs mixing cohorts from different countries, such as one program I know of that brings together students from China, the US, and Spain, and students participating in those programs at three different locations - China, the US, and Spain. Note that these initiatives are experiential and not just impacting the curriculum.

    A related part of this is the globalization of student recruiting, not necessarily new, but something being done with greater frequency and by more players. So, now you have schools from Europe, the US, and Australia vigorously recruiting Chinese students. Soon the shoe will be on the other foot, as China and others will be recruiting students from those regions. At this point, there does not seem to be aggressive recruiting in the US by schools from overseas, but one can see that this will be changing going forward.

    Globalization has given impetus to partnerships between schools in different nations. It only makes sense to have a partner on the ground who understands the market, the rules and regulations, etc… But increasingly you are seeing schools within countries partner, even schools that you might think would see themselves as competitors. What is driving this I think is the high cost structures we have in place. As an example, rather than start a costly engineering program we can have students take two years of general education at one university and send them somewhere else for the final years of specialized engineering education. Those programs existed years ago but over time they were not vigorously promoted. Now they are gaining new life.

    A third trend is to make education more experiential, more applied. So, we are going to industry and non-profits for projects for students to work on. We are encouraging students to participate in internships. We are doing this because we have found out that this is how people learn, and it is a more interesting experience for the student. It is not just happening outside of class, but also in the classroom. Lecturing is disappearing in classrooms. It is more problem solving exercises, case study discussions, and student presentations. Technology facilitates the disappearance of lectures. Faculty record short segments of material and students watch those outside of class. Class time is left for higher order activity. This has been called "flipping the classroom," and it has been facilitated by the two trends of an increasing focus on application and improving technology.


    I think a parallel trend will be increased co-curricular requirements for graduation. It will not just be the courses students take, but what other requirements do they have for graduation. Such requirements are not new, but they will become more prominent as they are facilitated by an applied approach to education. For example, you will see more schools requiring internships, requiring study abroad, requiring Excel certification, etc… with none of that tied to a specific course in the curriculum.

    A final trend is much more discussion in the curriculum of the role of business in society. Some schools have always emphasized business ethics and social responsibility. They have always raised questions about the role of business in society. They have always addressed social responsibility, but with each business scandal there seems to be increased awareness of the need for schools to articulate that business is not about maximizing shareholder value and wealth accumulation, but rather business has a more noble role to play in terms of providing employment and income to workers, in terms of providing goods and services that meet genuine human needs, and doing all this in a sustainable way that does not compromise future generations. At Seattle University we have always approached things this way, but even we feel like we must be even more intentional about it. So, in recent years we established a Center for Business Ethics, we began hosting something called "Business Ethics Week," which brings business leaders to campus to speak to every class meeting that week about a business ethics challenge (to signal to students its importance), etc…

    On top of what individual schools are doing, you have other entities giving emphasis to it. So, for example, you have AACSB making ethics part of its expectations for accreditation. Or, you have the development of the United Nations Global Compact spinning out a program for higher education, the Principles of Responsible Management Education (which nearly 600 business schools worldwide participate in).

    So to conclude, business schools have found themselves in a new environment where changing affordability and changing technology are having profound impacts on our operations. Against this backdrop, schools are responding with new programs and new approaches. Part of the response includes weaving new elements into our approach to business education. Four trends that I have identified are greater emphasis on liberal arts education, globalization, experiential education, and the role of business in society. They are all highly relevant to our conference theme of "Preparing Inter-disciplinary Students in a Global Context."

    Thank you for your attention and the opportunity to speak to you today, and I look forward to further discussions and your insights on the important themes of our conference.

    John Williams Returns

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/29/2014 05:38:02 PM

    John Williams, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, spoke at the Albers School about monetary policy on March 5th.  He was disappointed that there was not more time for questions from the audience, so he volunteered to teleconference with students on April 21st.  That morning, 25 Albers students and faculty gathered for a Skype conversation with Dr. Williams.  He was in his office in San Francisco.  We were in the Puget Energy Room.


    He answered a few questions he had received in advance, then turned it over to students for more questions.  They asked about everything from how much work it takes to prepare for an FOMC meeting to how he would contrast the styles of the three Fed Chairs -- Greenspan, Bernanke, and Yellin.  It was a unique opportunity for some of our students, and we appreciate Dr. Williams wanting to make a return visit to Albers!  He is for sure the first participant in the Albers Executive Speaker Series to follow up with a Skype meeting! :)

    Here is a picture of John Williams in his office Skyping with Albers students and faculty.


     John Williams in Library

    Diane Jurgens

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/29/2014 10:34:58 AM

    Diane Jurgens, Managing Director of Shanghai OnStar, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker series on April 23rd.  Shanghai OnStar is a telematics joint venture of GM in China.  Diane has been a leader in China for GM for more than eight years.  The title of her presentation was, "China: Successfully Navigating the Middle Kingdom."


    Diane opened her remarks by recounting her leadership journey.  It began when she was in a leadership development program with Boeing, her employer at the time, and realized she did not have the business training she needed to complement her engineering background. That led her to enroll in our MBA program, and her experience in the program opened her up to the possibility of working globally. Soon after graduation she left Boeing to take a position with GM, and she ended up in China in 2005.


    Diane stressed that one ingredient to GM's success in China (the number one car seller in China in seven of the last eight years) was using local partners, who understand the local consumer and how to navigate the political and legal systems.


    She noted that one of her struggles in China as a leader has been to get people comfortable with autonomy.  The typical leadership style in China is hierarchical, but she is to a team approach and decentralized decision-making.  She has had to work hard to get her colleagues to embrace this behavior -- they are afraid to make a decision without asking her.


    It turns out that the Chinese consumer is a more intensive user of On Star than Americans are.  They are more intensive users of directions because there are always new roads under construction and it easier to keep abreast of the changes with OnStar.  It is also the case that the Chinese consumer has higher expectations for product quality.


    When asked what was most important about her SU education, she mentioned two things.  First, ethics and integrity has to be the foundation for everything you do.  Second, she was introduced to the important concept of sunk cost, a tool she has found herself using many times.  For example, if you have invested in a new program and it not working, you don't keep spending on it to "protect your investment."  Instead, you cut your losses and get out of that program.


    Diane was also asked what it was like to work in two male dominated industries, aerospace and automobiles.  She responded that in the past she would try to ignore all gender related issues and just let her performance determine her path.  But she has come to realize the importance of mentoring other women with their careers.  She thinks women who have achieved success need to pay it forward and assist other women to have successful careers.


    It was a pleasure to welcome Diane Jurgens back to campus, one of the few American females in a leadership role in China's manufacturing sector.  That makes her a great role model for many SU students.


    Ironically, the next day I flew to shanghai to visit a partner university, Shanghai International Studies University.  Diane, on the other hand, was flying on to Detroit for a meeting at company headquarters!

    John Williams

    Posted by Liz Wick on 3/9/2014 03:53:14 PM

    On March 5th, John Williams, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, visited Albers to speak in the Albers Executive Speaker Series. Since Williams serves on the Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) and helps set US monetary policy, this was a special opportunity for our students and a true privilege for us to host him. It is the dream of every Money and Banking professor (and every former M&B professor like me!) to have a member of the FOMC on campus!


    Nearly 300 students, faculty, staff, and friends gathered in Pigott Auditorium for his talk on, "The Federal Reserve: Inside Monetary Policy." In the talk, he wanted to address three questions: (1) What is so important about the Fed?; (2) What does the Fed actually do?; and (3) How does the Fed impact the economy?


    On the first point, he noted that only the Fed sets monetary policy for the US, which is important for both the domestic and global economies. The Fed does this in a non-partisan way and thus far has been able to maintain its political independence.  Williams also noted that the Fed has become much more transparent about monetary policy, which most observers see as a much welcome development.


    While the Fed supervises banks and oversees the payments system, its most important function is to set monetary policy. The primary instrument for this is buying and selling securities through open market operations.  We used to say Treasury securities, but since the Great Recession the Fed has shown it is willing and able to buy and sell other securities! Williams offered a frequently overlooked fact - the Fed has a great business model, as open market operations consistently generate a surplus of $80-90 billion a year!


    To answer the final question on the Fed's impact, Williams provided financial market data on two episodes. The first was the June 19th , 2013 FOMC announcement that it would begin to think about "tapering" back its "Quantitative Easing," which was a surprise to the financial markets. The second was the Fed's September 18th, 2013 FOMC announcement that it would make no change to policy, when the financial markets expected some tapering. Williams presented graphs showing the movement of the S&P 500, 10 year Treasury rate, and dollar exchange rate at the times of those announcements. The graphs gave a vivid illustration that the Fed can make those variables move!


    In the Q&A, Williams was asked how other central banks respond to our monetary policy. He noted that other central banks are most concerned with their policy goals, which can differ from the Fed's, and he noted that Fed was driven by domestic concerns. Although there are differences in central bank goals, policy makers frequently end up on the same page.


    He was also asked how to avoid future financial crises. He noted that monetary policy is a blunt instrument and cannot be used to forestall a financial market crisis or pop a financial bubble. He also noted that the Great Recession was not a result of the housing bubble as much as it was the result of financial securities based on the housing market, and thus ultimately savaged when the housing bubble burst.  He opined that we will never eliminate asset bubbles, but that stronger regulation and proactive regulatory moves can temper the excess.


    When asked about how events in the Ukraine might impact the economy, he noted that at the moment the impact is mostly geo-political, not economic.  However, he did note the possibility of a small country like the Ukraine having a contagion effect on the global economy.


    As for his short term economic forecast, he expects the economy to continue to grow at 2.5 to 3% and for the unemployment rate to fall to 5.5% by the end of 2015.


    Since he has worked closely with Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, he was asked what it was like to work with her.   He responded that she has the respect of everyone at the Fed, and while she herself has strong views on monetary policy, she likes to hear what others have to say and likes a good give and take over policy.


    When asked what keeps him awake at night, he returned to the topic of price bubbles, saying he was most concerned about finding a way to identify them and respond appropriately.  He feels the Fed responded very effectively to the Great Recession once it got started, but could have done more to think ahead about the housing bubble that led to the downturn.


    Williams also proved to have a good sense of humor and to be a good sport. He is still recovering from the Seahawks victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL playoffs. "Just throw it four inches higher!" he exclaimed, in reference to the Seahawks end zone interception. Since both cities are in his district, he can pretend that either as Super Bowl Champion works for him - but not really. Why else would he let the audience know that it was his understanding that the Mariner's season would be over by May! :}


    It was an honor and pleasure to have John Williams visit campus on March 5th. It was a rare opportunity for students to hear from someone intimately involved in crafting financial and monetary policy for the US.

    Roy Whitehead

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/19/2014 05:01:19 PM

    Roy Whitehead, Chairman, President, and CEO of Washington Federal Bank (WF), was the speaker at the most recent Albers Executive Speaker Series event on February 18th.  WF is the largest bank headquartered in the state of Washington, with over $14 billion in assets, nearly 2000 employees, and well over 200 branches across eight western state.  By not getting caught up with exotic and risky mortgage lending, WF was able to navigate through the Great Recession unscathed and in position to acquire other banks that were failing.


    Whitehead wanted the audience to know that banking is an important sector in our economy and a noble profession.  Its role in our economy is to provide for the efficient distribution of capital.  WF sees itself as a steward of societal resources and acts accordingly.  It also knows that it takes a healthy community to have a healthy bank, so it invests its time, talent, and resources back into the communities that it serves.


    Whitehead noted how the environment for banking was getting more complicated.  The Fed's aggressive moves with quantitative easing have held interest rates low and squeezed margins for banks and savers.  While the low rate environment might benefit the stock market and help stabilize the housing market, it results in unintended consequences that are not good for the economy over the long run.  This includes introducing a moral hazard that results in increased risk taking, an inflated bond market, and disguising the long run consequence of the large government deficit.


    He noted that the economic recovery had been tepid, and his explanation was that businesses were being very cautious with their expansion plans.  When faced with conditions not seen before (like now), they are going to be more conservative in how they operate their business.


    A second complicating factor for the industry is the increase in rule making, often in an attempt to prevent the reoccurrence of the housing bubble that led to the Great Recession.  Increased regulation is requiring more and more resources for regulatory compliance, diverting banks from more productive activities.


    Despite these challenges, Whitehead said that the best leaders will look for the opportunities, and they are definitely present in the banking sector.  One opportunity is the application of technology to banking services and the payments system.  Much has occurred and there is more to come.  A second area of opportunity is more sophisticated systems for risk analysis and management.  And a final opportunity comes with the application of Big Data to marketing research on the needs of bank customers.  Moreover, much of the banking work force is aging out, so there are many opportunities for growth for younger workers.


    When asked how the organization chooses its leaders, he noted that aptitude and attitude are important, but the most important element is personal values that align with the company's values.  He also noted that WF found that graduates of SU shared their values and for that reason they were anxious recruit SU students!


    Whitehead explained that WF was able to weather the financial crisis because they manage the bank over a 3-5 year horizon, and avoid maximizing profits for the next quarter.  They knew better than to get into the exotic mortgage products that were developing a decade ago.  Holding mortgages on their books rather than selling into the secondary market forced them to keep their underwriting strong.  Maintaining a strong capital base, high asset quality, and operating efficiency allowed them to sail through the crisis while others were collapsing.  Acquisition opportunities resulted and allowed them to significantly expand their size and footprint.  Getting through the Great Recession unscathed was the proudest accomplishment in his career, he said.


    In response to a question about whether we overdid it with regulations in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Whitehead is certain we have and that the new regulations will not prevent the next crisis.  He was highly critical of the size of some financial institutions, and said this had been facilitated by using FDIC insured deposits to fund risky activities.  He favored a return to Glass-Steagall and the separation of commercial and investment banking.


    When asked how he ended up in the banking industry, he said that when growing up, he wanted to be a shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, but realized the odds were against him.  Instead, he saw that there were many businesses and they all had a CEO, so aspiring to be a CEO seemed to offer better odds.  In earning his business degree at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Oliver Wood became his mentor, and Wood pushed him to consider the banking industry.  When he graduated, he started out working for the Federal Reserve on the regulatory side, but soon switched to the other side of the industry, and more than 35 years later has become one of the most respected leaders in the banking industry.


    Roy Whitehead's visit to the speaker series was a great opportunity to learn from a widely admired business leader.  With his integrity, commitment to the community, and focus on the fundamentals of his industry, he serves as a terrific role model for our students.




    Ray Conner

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/24/2014 04:03:38 PM
    On January 16th, Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) and Vice Chairman of the Boeing Company visited Albers for the Albers Executive Speaker Series. He is the fourth BCA CEO to speak in the series, following Alan Mulally, Frank Shrontz, Scott Carson, and Jim Albaugh. More than 400 were in attendance.

    Conner started the presentation reflecting on the six decade relationship between Boeing and SU. Much of BCA's current leadership team graduated from the Albers School and Conner noted they are very capable leaders who embody the values of Boeing. This speaks to the quality of their SU education and the quality of SU faculty, he noted.

    Conner took the occasion to look back at the year 2013. it was a challenging year but an important one in terms of testing the organization. Conner noted the year included the 787 grounding, the SPEAA and IAM contracts, and the roll out of two new planes (787-10 and 777-x).

    Conner was very proud of how BCA responded to the 787 grounding. They did three years of work in three months to find a solution, he noted. Only Boeing could do that, he said. They did not lose a customer in that period and continued to sell 787's. Despite the crisis, BCA sold a record 1355 airplanes.

    Regarding the recent renegotiation of the IAM contract, he said they wanted to be able to build the 777x here while maintaining the best pay in the industry. Conner said they accomplished both those goals with this contract.

    Conner believes Airbus has become a formidable competitor and their product line has improved. They are also very aggressive on pricing. Airbus wants to obtain 60% market share and Conner said that would be very dangerous for Boeing. He recalled what happened with McDonnell Douglas, which saw its market share fall to 40% and could not compete as a result.

    In the Q&A, he said that outsourcing to emerging nation customers was here to stay. These governments want to generate jobs and who can blame them. Conner said they would do this step by step, making sure the customer earned their stripes as a supplier. This is not a give away program, he argued.

    Conner shared that his start at Boeing was due to a bad fishing season in Alaska. He worked as the engineer on a salmon fishing boat and the summer season was so bad, he needed to find a job afterwards. In applying for a job, he had the option of a desk job or a machinist (thanks to working as the engineer on the boat), and went with the machinist position since he figured with overtime he could earn more. What he thought would be a short term stay at Boeing turned into a 37 year and counting career at Boeing!

    Conner said he subsequently had opportunities in supplier management and sales, and that combined with his experience in manufacturing, has been invaluable to him as a Boeing leader.

    Conner noted that once you are in the airplane business, it is hard to leave. As a result, you develop long standing relationships and friendships. This is not just within Boeing, but also includes suppliers and customers. People remember you for your honesty and integrity (or not) and so your reputation in the business is very important. No doubt that is part of the explanation for why Conner has been such a successful leader at Boeing!

    Conner's visit was an excellent opportunity for our students and alumni to hear from one of the region's top business leaders. He is coming off a challenging year, but one that he and BCA have been able to navigate successfully. It was also clear to the audience that he is an authentic and principled leader.

    The Road through Omaha

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/27/2013 03:26:53 PM

    "The Road to Omaha" is used to reference getting to the NCAA D1 College World Series for baseball.  "The Road through Omaha" is my shorthand for Seattle U's victory over Creighton University in the first round of the NCAA D1 men's soccer post-season tournament.


    On November 21st, SU played Creighton in Omaha and snatched a 2-1 victory over the favored Bluejays.  I went to the game because I spent 19 years at Creighton before coming to SU in 2001.  I went to many Creighton soccer games at what was then Tranquility Field, which was about 10 miles west of campus at a windblown location.  Most of the time it was with my kids, who were able to run all over the place and pay little attention to the games.


    Today, Creighton has a soccer stadium on campus, and it is no doubt one of the finest facilities in the nation, even finer than our own Championship Field.  But there was nothing the stadium could do about the weather on November 21st.  The 7:00 PM game was played in 20 degrees, 20 mile an hour winds out of the north, and snow on a turf field.


    That's weather that we never see in Western Washington, so a decided advantage for the Bluejays.  Nevertheless, our team was able to overcome the elements and pull off a surprise.  Creighton started the scoring with a fluke goal, but SU was able to respond and the score was tied at the half.  Weather conditions were continuing to deteriorate and we were starting the second half with the wind at our backs, which was becoming more and more of an advantage.  With about 25 minutes to go, SU scored a second goal to go up 2-1.  Both SU goals were solid finishes by Miguel Gonzalez, despite the elements. 


    Creighton tried to rally back, and had a few opportunities, but could not get it into the net.  The clock wound down and SU had its first D1 post-season soccer victory, and apparently the first victory in post-season D1 play since 1965 in any sport!


    Having lived in Nebraska for 19 years, I was fairly well prepared for the weather.  Still, by the end of the game my hands and feet were feeling it.  No excuse for the hands, though.  Prior to the game, Coach Fewing gave me some hand warmers, but during the game I forgot that I had them, so never put them to use.  Sorry, coach!


    Naturally, part of the reason for the trip was to see people at Creighton that I worked with for 19 years.  With the stadium on campus, that was fairly easy to do.  But no one seemed to be taking the Redhawks seriously, despite my warnings that I would not have travelled all that way for anything less than a victory.  I was able to see the new digs of what is now the Heider College of Business in the Harper Center.  Very impressive and a big improvement over the Eppley Building!


    Beating Creighton earned SU the privilege of playing UW here in Seattle.  It seems a bit ironic that after all the drama in Omaha, we earn the right to play our reinstated cross-town rival. 


    I went to the UW game on November 24th, and the weather could not have been better for Seattle at this time a year, yet alone in comparison to Omaha several days before.  UW prevailed with a 4-2 victory, but I could not help thinking that the last time I had been to the UW stadium was to watch Creighton play UW!  I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of Red in the stands!


    In one way, I appreciated the nice weather, but on the other hand, as UW's Michael Harris continued to plague SU with his flip throw-ins, I could not help but wonder.  There is no way he could have done that in Omaha.  The snow covered turf would have been too slick and he would have been neutralized!  Maybe that Omaha weather was not so bad after all!


    2013 was a great year for men's and women's soccer at SU!  With two terrific coaches in Julie Woodward and Pete Fewing, I am looking for more of the same in 2014!



    Hedrick Smith

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/19/2013 09:24:11 AM

    On November 18th, the Albers School and the Matteo Ricci College co-sponsored an appearance by Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream?  Smith is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Emmy Award winning producer, and bestselling author.  Prior to publishing Who Stole the American Dream?, he wrote The Russians and The Power Game, two critically acclaimed books.  He has won Pulitzer Prizes for his work on the Pentagon Papers and for reporting from Russia in the early 1970's.  He has also produced several Emmy award winning specials for the PBS Frontline program.  Smith has won the Columbia-Dupont Gold Baton for the year's best public affairs program on U.S. television twice, and also received the George Polk, George Peabody, and Sidney Hillman awards for his excellence in reporting.


    In his latest book, Smith explores the demise of the middle class in the US.  He started off his lecture by saying some societies succumb to threats from the outside, while others are threatened from within.  He said the US is threatened from within due to increasing income and wealth inequality.


    According to Smith, this decline can be traced to policy in DC.  Decades ago the middle class was able influence policy via a strong union movement, the women's movement, the consumer movement, and the environmental movement.  Then, a "Revolt of the Bosses" took place, where the business sector organized and fought back, creating such entities as the Business Roundtable to lobby for its interests.  He traced this movement back to the writings of Supreme Court Justice Louis Powell and said it launched the expansion of increasingly successful corporate lobbying and PR in our nation's capital.


    Smith cited such legislation as the creation of 401k plans, modifications in the corporate bankruptcy code, the end of usury laws, and more favorable capital gains tax treatment as rising from the growth of corporate power and at the same time undermining the middle class.


    In the decades since, as the economy continued to progress, productivity gains were scoped up by the upper class and family incomes stagnated.  At the same time, the cost of key goods such as health care, education, and home ownership rose significantly, forcing families to borrow if they wanted to acquire these goods.  It's no wonder that families overcommitted in real estate, argues Smith.


    There is no denying that the distribution of income and wealth is deteriorating in the US, and we cannot take comfort in the idea that all are being lifted up by a rising tide.  This rising tide is definitely not lifting all boats.  Policy changes in Washington have definitely contributed to this unfortunate trend, but policy alone is not the culprit.  Globalization, an inconsistent education system, and technology access are part of the explanation as well.  Add to that list the polarization of politics in the US, which will prevent us from addressing this trend for the foreseeable future.


    Smith's presentation was an interesting contrast to one that took place on campus later that evening by Chris Matthews of MSNBC fame.  Matthews also has a new book out - Tip and the Gipper  -- and was co-hosted by Town Hall and Seattle University.  Some of the things Smith condemned for undermining the middle class, such as a lower capital gains tax rates, Matthews was hailing as bi-partisan accomplishments.  Matthews did not take on corporate lobbyists, but instead chose to focus on unrestrained campaign contributions, arguing the key was to keep electing Democratic presidents so that the Supreme Court could be changed out and free speech redefined as speech and not campaign contributions.


    Interesting evening on campus!!



    Phyllis Campbell

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/8/2013 02:24:58 PM

    Phyllis Campbell, Chairman of JP Morgan Chase Pacific Northwest, was our speaker for the Albers Executive Speaker Series on November 7th.  Phyllis formerly served as chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees, so she is a very good friend of the university.


    The title of her talk was, "Leading in the Turbulent Financial Sector."  She opened by recalling an episode in 2009 when she had just accepted the position with JP Morgan, leaving the Seattle Foundation which she had headed up since 2003.  She was on a plane headed to New York, having a very nice conversation with her seat mate, but when he found out she had just taken a job with JP Morgan, he said he could not believe she had done that, since he had thought she was "a nice person."  That illustrates what public opinion about JP Morgan was like back in 2009.


    In 2013, JP Morgan is still surrounded in controversy, and Phyllis acknowledged how the "London Whale" episode and the bank's recent attempts to settle with regulators are still weighing on the firm's reputation.


    In trying to lead through these five challenging years at JP Morgan, Phyllis shared three lessons she had learned:


    1. Be totally transparent. - acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them.
    2. Do the right thing, but also do things right. - there is no room for error.  Banking is a highly regulated industry and there is a compliance culture.
    3. Step up and address the concerns of the regulator. - if the regulator has a concern, address it and move on.  Get it behind you so you can focus on the customer and the business.


    When asked who her mentor was, she replied that she had many mentors, but the one with the most impact was her father.  He ran a dry cleaning business and was not college educated.  What lessons did she learn from her father?  First, whatever you decide to take on, be the best you can be.  Second, devote yourself to a cause greater than yourself.  She gave the example of her father signing up for service in the military even though he had been interned in the camps with other Japanese during WWII.  Despite the mistreatment, he still believed in his country.


    When asked how JP Morgan can best restore its reputation in the community, Phyllis said they would do that by increased philanthropy (every business should have the philosophy that you do as well as your community does), working with community partners (non-profits who are working to improve the community), and doing things right by your customers every day.


    A question was posed about how she would describe her leadership style.  She answered by saying that humility was important.  You have to realize you do not have all the answers and need to learn from your mistakes.  Second, you should be working on empowering and mentoring the people in your organization.  Third, you need to be resilient and optimistic so that others in the organization will not be discouraged by difficult times.


    What are her core values?  Phyllis said what drives her is a desire to give back to the community, the value of hard work, and a desire to be the best she can be.


    Phyllis Campbell was an inspiration to our students in the audience, particularly our women and Asian students.  It is important that they have role models of success as Phyllis exemplifies it.  She is not just a successful banker, but an impactful leader in our community working for the common good.


    Our next speaker is on January 16th when Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, will visit.


    Strategic Planning

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/1/2013 05:57:56 PM

    Today, many of the faculty and staff of the Albers School spent the day off-campus at an all-day strategic planning session.  That is right, the Albers School is developing a new strategic plan!  Our current plan was finalized in 2010, and while we have refreshed it every year, it needs to be updated.  In the meantime, the university finalized a new strategic plan in February, and we need a plan that is informed by the university plan.


    Our process includes a 27 member strategic planning team, including faculty, staff, students, advisory board members, and representatives from other parts of campus.  We have two facilitators, Mike Diamond and Mark Robison from Academic Leadership Associates, who are doing a fine job of guiding our process.  This was our second full day meeting and a final meeting is scheduled for December 6th.


    Between meetings we have five committees working on our five strategic objectives, which are around preparing highly demanded graduates, a compelling curriculum, the impact of faculty scholarship, social justice, and business and alumni engagement.


    Each committee is charged with developing strategic initiatives that support their strategic objective, and then building out the action items and assigning responsibility and time lines.  All this needs to come together by the middle of December and it will!


    We have looked at the mission statement and have decided we need to update it.  Stay tuned for that!


     We have a good track record with strategic planning.  Since I started as dean in 2001, this will be our fifth strategic plan.  Prior plans were developed in 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2010.  Some processes have been more elaborate than others, with the first one in 2002 being the most demanding.  In fact, Mike Diamond was one of the facilitators for that plan!


    What are some of the lessons I have learned about strategic planning?  They would be:


    1. Use an outside facilitator, and definitely do not, as the leader, try to be the facilitator for the process.  Also, don't use someone else from the organization as the facilitator.  No matter how well respected they are, they have an agenda and a perspective that is hard to overcome.
    2. Make sure the planning team is widely representative of the organization, and add some people from the outside who can provide a different perspective.
    3. Communicate with everyone who is not on the planning team about how the plan is shaping up.  Do not bring them a finished product that they are seeing for the first time.
    4. If you, as the leader, have something you definitely want in the strategic plan, get that in the mix early.  Do not wait until the end to throw that in.
    5. Don't be afraid to reach out to people outside the planning team to help out along the way.  They will be happy to be included and can make up for competencies the planning team may lack.


    Stay tuned for the Albers School's new strategic plan!




    Brad Tilden

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/29/2013 04:03:42 PM

    Brad Tilden, President and CEO of Alaska Air Group, was the guest speaker for the Albers Executive Speaker Series on October 24th.   He opened his talk by describing the difficulties faced by the airline industry, noting that since the industry was born it has not been profitable on a cumulative basis.  Billions of dollars of capital has been destroyed and bankruptcy has been a frequent occurrence.  Of late, the industry has consolidated into four major players who control 90% of the US market.  That has left Alaska with 3.5% of the market, yet despite that small market share it has been one of the few profitable domestic airlines.


    What are some of the reasons for this?  One that Tilden mentioned was that performance at the margin can really make a difference.  Where you decide to spend your last $100k can make a big difference, they have found.  Also, he credits Alaska's practice of bringing in business leaders from other organizations to learn from them has also been very helpful.  Two examples he cited were Jim Sinegal from Costco Wholesale and Orin Smith when he was at Starbucks.


    How does one survive in an industry of big players?  In this capital intensive industry aren't their overwhelming economies of scale that a small player misses out on?  That may be true, said Tilden, but there are also diseconomies of scale.  Being smaller gives one less to worry about and brings fewer coordination problems.  Tilden also gave credit to Alaska's use of "Lean."  These process improvements have been especially helpful in aircraft maintenance, and the Lean method keeps you from thinking you have everything figured out.  You are much more open to continuous improvement.  Simplicity is also key - it is not a good idea to be flying 14 different airplane types, for example!


    When asked what he wanted his legacy at Alaska to be, he replied he wanted the company to remain an independent, be known as a good employer to work for, and leave a strong leadership team in place.


    Jim Sinegal talks about Sol Price as his mentor.  Who was Brad's mentor?  He mentioned his predecessor, Bill Ayer, and his father.  Both were good role models for him.


    When asked what advice he would give to college students, he noted two things - (1) When it comes to your career, make sure you do something you really enjoy, and (2), Don't play it safe with your career.  Take risks.  Apply for that promotion if you want it.


    Finally, he discussed the importance of the people in the organization and creating a culture where employees  feel empowered and going the extra mile is recognized.  He also stressed the importance of safety - both for customers and employees.


    Brad Tilden drew nearly 300 people to Pigott Auditorium, and they left very impressed with the leader of Alaska Airlines.  It was both what he said but also how he said it.  His sincere and approachable demeanor impressed his listeners.


    Vocation of the Business Leader Conference

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/13/2013 03:15:19 PM

    From October 11 to 13 the Center for Business Ethics at SU organized a conference inspired by The Vocation of the Business Leader (VOTBL), an important document released by the Vatican that discusses the role of business in society.  VOTBL was released in March, 2012 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. 


    Why is VOTBL so important?  Catholic social teaching goes back to 1891 with the publication of Rerum Novarum, and the various encyclicals over the years have dealt with a number of issues related to business indirectly, not directly, and often in language that is hard to follow.  This is the first document from the Vatican to directly address the role of business in society and to do so in a readable and sympathetic format.  If you have not read the document, you can find it at:


    One of the keynote speakers for the conference was Professor Michael Naughton, from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.  Naughton was one of the chief architects of the document.  In his opening address he gave a nice overview of the document.  He noted the document is asking "What is the nature of the good business?" and what does that mean for a business leader?  He reminded the audience of "The Logic of Gift," or basically what is known as, "To those who much is given, much is expected."  Business leaders have been given much, and therefore should be grateful for that.  That gratitude should motivate them to lead a good business.


    What does a good business look like?  Naughton provided a nice framework for the six core principles of a good business:


    "Good goods" - provide goods and services that meet true human needs and maintain solidarity with the poor by also meeting their basic needs.


    "Good work" - create a workplace that supports the dignity of the worker and practice the principle of subsidiaridy in the organizational structure.


    "Good wealth" - create wealth in a sustainable manner and distribute it in a just fashion.


    (Naughton recalled that we first met in 1991, when I was at Creighton University and part of a group organizing a conference to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum.  Mike noted that he was just out of graduate school and happy to find a group of scholars with interests similar to his own.  He has gone on to be one of the world's leading scholars on Catholic Social Teaching in the economic sphere.)


    The keynote address was followed by a series of panel discussions throughout the day on the 12th and into the morning of the 13th.  They were organized to provide different faith perspectives on the documents, so that not only Catholics were involved in the discussion.  The organizers worked hard to make this an interreligious event.  Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, and other perspectives were included. 


    The panels included a mix of highly regarded academics, such as Dr. Patricia Wehane from DePaul University, Dr. Ken Goodpaster from the University of St. Thomas, and Dr. Moses Pava, business dean at Yeshiva University.  They also included representatives from the business sector such as Sherri Flies from Costco Wholesale, Brian Mistele, founder of INRIX, and Mark Seidl from REI.


    John Dienhart, our Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Professional Ethics, was the main organizer, but he had lots of help from colleagues in Albers and across the campus.  This included Professors Jessica Ludescher and Marc Cohen in Albers, and Michael Trice from STM and Fr. Peter Ely, SJ, SU's VP for Mission and Ministry.  There were plenty of students who assisted, especially John's graduate assistant JP McCarvel.


    The conference was a big success.  We estimate that over 200 student, faculty, staff, and community members participated.  Congratulations to John and his team for putting it together!


    VOTBL needs to be part of the student experience in the Albers School, and we are in process of figuring that out.  We have had some success with that, but more work needs to be done.  In the meantime, I encourage you to read VOTBL if you have not already done so!



    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/8/2013 05:25:17 PM
    At the Western Association of Collegiate Schools of Business meeting this week we had the opportunity to hear from Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera.  It was fascinating to listen to the insights of one of the pioneers of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which have become a hot topic in higher education.

    According to Ng, his goal is to expand access to higher education, and he does not believe that MOOCs will drive traditional providers out of business.  He believes that Coursera's impact to date has been to bring non-consumers into the market.  He notes that 80% of Coursera's students already have an undergraduate degree and are working full time, and in that mode are too busy to pursue a traditional degree program.

    Ng explained that in the traditional model, what is constant is time on task, but what is variable is learning.  In the mastery model used by MOOCs, that is flipped and what becomes constant is learning and time on task is the variable.

    He also talked about their experience with peer grading, which is better than you might expect.  The median peer grade is highly correlated with instructor grades, plus students like peer grading because it allows them to calibrate their performance against that of their peers in ways that cannot happen in the traditional model.  Coursera's algorithms can also detect "tough" graders and adjust scores accordingly.

    They have also had good experience with peer answers to student questions as opposed to instructor answers. Coursera is also finding that peers take more time to provide more thoughtful and detailed answers than instructors do!

    Coursera is also having good luck with its verified completion certificate program.  Even though they provide significant financial aid for these certificates, revenues are strong and helping to monetize the company. Moreover, they feel they have solved the verification problem with scanned photo IDs and keyboard stoke recognition patterns.

    Coursera is collecting lots of data on student learning, single-handedly amassing more data than all of higher ed has collected from the beginning of time.  Analyzing this data gives them important insights on human learning that will grow in value as more of it gets analyzed.

    After his talk, Ng said that one thing becoming clear is that we will have to "flip" the classroom to stay relevant.  Faculty members or programs that do not do that will fall by the wayside.  Flipping the classroom means putting content up on the web for students to view outside of class and using class time for more higher level work.

    Ng noted that completion rates for Coursera courses are high if you only look at students who complete the first assignment (45%), but for all students runs at a much lower 7%. 

    Asked if Coursera had algorithms to identify the most talented students, Ng did not answer directly, but made it clear this was in the mix with some of his examples of what could be done.

    Asked how he thought Coursera would be different in a few years, Ng responded that it was his hope that under-served groups would be able to receive financial aid to take a collection of Coursera courses (12 was the number he mentioned) that would allow them to find a job and enter the middle class in our society.  It was clear that Ng sees the most important role for Coursera is to create access to education and economic opportunity.

    While Ng sees a noble role for MOOCs, others are worried that Coursera will put professors out of a job.  Ng's response is that MOOCs cannot replace the most important things that faculty do, which is to mentor and advise students.  If anything, technology will allow faculty to reduce the low value activity of lectures and grading homework and allow for more time for high value activity such as mentoring.

    It's tempting to accept Ng's benign description of MOOCs, but something tells me it will not be so easy for the rest of us.  We will have to change to stay relevant.  What will happen to traditional providers if the mastery model gains greater acceptance?  What about the rising cost of higher education (not just what we charge, but what it costs to deliver in the traditional model)?  Will the data advantage of MOOCs give them a significant advantage in improving their product?  And if the faculty role changes to mentoring and advising, will we need as many faculty? 

    All the sudden the future does not look so sanguine!

    BAP Shines

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/29/2013 02:02:02 PM

    My blog has been pretty quiet this summer.  One thing that should be mentioned is the terrific performance of our Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) students at the American Accounting Association (AAA) Annual Meeting earlier this month.  As faculty advisor Sarah Bee noted, the BAP team hit for the cycle!


    The Single -- Superior Chapter Award - each BAP member is required to complete 32 hours of a combination of professional and service hours.  50% of BAP chapters receive Superior Chapter status.


    The Double -- Project Run with It - students apply to participate in a consulting engagement at the AAA Conference with one of three local non-profits (in this case, Anaheim, CA).  They serve on a team with three students from other universities and develop a solution over a two day period.  Each non-profit case has six teams consulting for their organization. The non-profit personnel judge the presentations of the consulting teams.  The team which included Nick Brazell from SU took first place.  (Twelve chapters out of 320 took first place.)


    The Triple -- Best Practice Award - each year BAP provides three themes for best practice presentations.  Chapters create an activity or activities which support the goals of the best practice themes. One of the themes last year was the development of soft skills in accounting students.  Our BAP students put on 12 workshops which were aligned with the AICPA Core Competencies to enhance our students' soft skills.  The students competed at the regional conference against 13 schools and took first place in the region.  The students involved in this project included Jennifer Manning, Adam Reed, Michael Watson, and Zachary Johnson.  First place best practice winners at the regional level compete against first place winners from the other seven regions at the national conference.  Our chapter also took first place at the annual conference.  (Three chapters out of 320 took first place.)


    The Home Run -- Gold Chapter Award - Chapters submit a video that covers the year in review and provides compelling reasons why the chapter goes above and beyond the superior chapter requirements.  Katy Long and Eric Breidenstein spent well over one hundred hours developing this video.  This was the third year in a row that our chapter received a Gold Chapter Award, which does not happen very often!  Twelve out of 320 chapters received this award in 2013.


    What a great tribute to the hard work and talents of our BAP students!  Congratulations to our students and to their professors!





    Graduation 2013

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/17/2013 08:11:14 AM

    Commencement took place at Key Arena on Sunday, June 16th - Father's Day!  Albers graduated 307 undergraduate students and 240 graduate students, who were among 1800 SU students graduating this year.  The undergraduate ceremony took place in the morning.  The graduate ceremony took place in the afternoon.


    On Saturday afternoon, June 15th, Albers hosted a graduation reception for students and their families and friends.  Over 650 students, family members, friends, faculty, and staff were in attendance to recognize our graduates.


    A few highlights for Albers on graduation day included Ha Nguyen receiving the Provost's Award as one of two undergraduate transfer students (tied) with the top GPA.  Ha is a finance major who transferred from South Seattle Community College and is from Vietnam. 


    MBA graduate Susan Weiss was the student speaker in the graduate ceremony.  She works at Boeing and grew up in California and received her undergraduate degree at Cal Poly.


    Kalison Shilvock received the Paul A. Volpe Award for the undergraduate business student graduating with the highest GPA.  Kalison is a marketing and economics major.  Thomas Smith received the Jerry A. Viscione Award, which goes to the graduating graduate student with the highest GPA.  Thomas is a MBA student.


    It is always bitter sweet for faculty and staff to see our students graduate.  We have enjoyed working with them so much and will miss them when they are no longer on campus.  On the other hand, we know they have to get out there and make the world a better place!


    Congratulations and best wishes to our 2013 graduates!  We expect big things from them and we know they will make us proud with their future contributions to the common good!


    Diane Lockwood

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/7/2013 08:48:06 AM

    Diane Lockwood is retiring from SU after being a member of our faculty since 1981!  Diane came to Albers to teach organizational behavior, but for most of her time here she has been teaching information systems.  What happened??  Well, I learned what happened at a dinner we had last night in her honor.


    In the early 1980's our accrediting body, AACSB, mandated that business schools begin including information systems in the curriculum.  But Albers had no faculty trained in this area, and Albers was not alone.  Other schools faced a similar situation, so AACSB put on a series of training sessions to retool faculty.  When the call went out at Albers for volunteers to participate in the AACSB training, Diane stepped forward.  The rest is history, but it shows that (1) Diane is willing to take risks, and (2) Diane is a team player and willing to do what it takes to make our program successful!


    Therefore, we are very grateful for Diane's more than three decades of service to SU and we will surely miss her!  That was the theme last night at the dinner as colleagues recounted how supportive she has been of them.


    I recall that when I first joined SU in 2001, coming from Creighton University in Omaha, it was so comforting to discover that Diane was born and raised in Nebraska!  Here was someone I could trust to tell me exactly what she thought with no "Seattle Nice" to muddy things up.  It has definitely worked that way, right Diane?! :}


    Over three decades, you get to teach a lot of students, and so in that regard Diane is leaving a very impressive legacy.  Jeff Greenaway is one of Diane's former students who attended the dinner.  He made the observation that Diane had not only had a profound impact on him, but also on many other people that she has never met.  Why??  Because many of the things Diane taught Jeff, Jeff used in his work over the years.  One example he cited was one of Diane's maxims - "In God we trust, everyone else bring data." :}


    It turns out there was another former student at the dinner, namely her current colleague and co-author, Professor Terry Foster!  Terry earned his MBA at SU and so was also a student of Diane's!


    In her time on our faculty, Diane published more than 30 journal articles, which averages about one article per year.  That is a great level of output to sustain over three decades at an institution such as Seattle U., one that stresses both good teaching and scholarship!  Diane also received two teaching awards during her time at SU, and served as Department Chair and on numerous committees at the school and university level.  Her excellence as a faculty member was recognized when she was named to hold the Robert O'Brien Endowed Chair in Business.  We estimate she taught 15 different classes over the course of her career, which is a high number of course preparations for a faculty member.  (Her former department chair, Pat Fleenor, claimed it was 14 more than he ever he did! :})


    Diane is known for her passion for fishing, especially salmon fishing.  A few of her colleagues alluded to this and we look forward to her tall tales now that she will have more time to pursue them!


    Diane will be recognized as an emeritus professor at the upcoming graduation ceremonies on June 16th.  Thank you, Diane, for your many contributions to Seattle University over the course of your career!!




    Economics is Number One!

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/5/2013 02:44:03 PM

    Economics is Number One! On June 3rd, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked Albers number one in the nation among undergraduate business programs in the specialty area of macroeconomics!!  What a great honor for our economics faculty!  The ranking is based on student survey responses asking them to rank specialty areas on a scale from A to F. A few weeks ago, Albers was ranked #3 in the nation in the area of sustainability in the same survey.

    What are some of the special things that characterize our macroeconomics courses?  We offer a rigorous macroeconomics curriculum that focuses on both theory and its application.  Our upper level elective courses apply macro models to economic growth, business forecasting, and financial market topics. Students are able to attend regional and national forecasting presentations and conferences such as meetings of the Seattle Economics Club featuring a variety of presenters, monetary policy simulations hosted by the Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference, and presentations by Federal Reserve representatives from the San Francisco branch. Albers economics students also have numerous networking and mentoring opportunities with professionals in the field by interacting with the Department of Economics Advisory Board.

    Student members of the Omicron Delta Epsilon, the Economics Honor Society, help organize and attend panel discussions on campus related to current economic events, such as the Great Recession, regional transportation policy, economic forecasting, and, most recently, the debt crisis.

    In other words, there is a lot that contributes to student satisfaction with our teaching of macroeconomics, not the least of which is the faculty who teach our macro classes - such as Dean Peterson, Meena Rishi, Quan Le, Vladimir Bejan, and Erin Vernon.

    What needs to be mentioned is that some of the students in the survey took their Introduction to Macroeconomics course from me, yet the department was able to overcome my poor performance and lead the nation!  Very impressive! :}

    One advantage we have over other business schools is that economics is housed in the business school.  On many campuses, economics is in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Having economics in the business school encourages the economics faculty to relate macroeconomic topics very specifically to business issues.  That is surely something that students appreciate.

    Our Number One ranking is not a flash in the pan, by the way.  In 2012, the same survey ranked us fifth in macro and in 2011 we were ranked 25th.  This is out of the more than 500 AACSB accredited business schools in the US.  The same for sustainability - in 2012 we were fourth in the nation and in 2011 we were ranked 17th.  In both 2011 and 2012 we were ranked seventh in business ethics, but did not crack the Top Ten in that category in 2013.

    In a previous blog, of spoken of the struggles we have to reconcile the rankings.  On the one hand, our students, alumni, and friends in the business community get very excited about a ranking such as this.  When we put out the announcement, we received a lot of congratulations from others.  On the other hand, can you really figure out who is #1??  Someone has to be, and we are glad it was us in 2013!

    To read the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story on our macroeconomics ranking, you can go to:

    To read the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story on our sustainability ranking, you can go to:






    Leo Hindery

    Posted by Bill Thompson on 5/30/2013 07:49:43 AM

    Leo Hindery, Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners and former CEO of AT&T Broadband and The YES Network, visited campus on May 28th. Leo graduated from the Albers School as an economics major in 1969, so it was great to welcome him back to campus. He spent the day speaking to classes and finished off as the final speaker in the 2012-13 Albers Executive Speaker Series.

    Throughout the day, Leo emphasized several themes that are import to him. First, he is concerned about the decline of manufacturing employment in the. US. He feels it is essential in order to supply decent jobs and income to a significant share of the population. He laments that the US does not have a manufacturing policy and tolerates what he sees as unfair competition from China. He notes that our manufacturing trade deficit largely stems from China, yet we let China manipulate its currency and heavily subsidize its industrial sector.

    A second concern is the large federal deficit, which he ties to excesses in defense spending, social security, and Medicare. He noted how the deficits force us to borrow overseas from nations such as China, but was unsure of whether that gave China leverage on the US or the US on China. Either way, it is the case that if a nation is borrowing from abroad a nation must run a trade deficit -- the two go hand in hand, which is not a well understood phenomenon.

    A third concern is the growing inequality in income and wealth in the US. He focused on the outsized compensation of CEOs, who on average earn more than 350 times what the average employee in the firm makes. It was not so long ago when that was 75 to 1. He traced this to the rise of the belief that maximizing shareholder value is the one and only duty of a firm, as well as the rise of "trickle down" economics.

    This has all been solidified with corporate campaign contributions that distort the electoral process and are changing the effectiveness of government. He estimates that in the 2012 campaign cycle $8.5 billion was spent by industry to influence the election.

    He believes that growing inequality and loss of voice in public policy are a civil rights issue. He feels that the SEC, FCC, public pension plans, and civil rights groups all have it within their power to challenge these trends and push back the rising tide of inequality.

    Later in his career, Leo has become identified with the Democratic Party and like minded causes, so it was not a surprise that this CEO did not sound like the typical CEO. Earlier in the day, in answer to a question, he offered that one of his regrets is that he did not take up these issues earlier in his career -- that he was too focused on his business career. That may be, but if he had not been working so hard and established the track record of success he has, he would not have the same credibility and moral authority he has today to speak to these important issues.

    It was great to have Leo Hindery on campus and a great opportunity for our students to hear from arguably one of Seattle University's most influential alums. Leo recently had back surgery and we may have asked him to do too much in one day, but he was a real trooper and rose to the occasion. That shows his commitment to SU is strong!

    41st Annual Accounting Awards Banquet

    Posted by Kevin Leahy on 5/23/2013 11:54:19 AM

    The 41st  Annual Accounting Awards Banquet was held on May 22nd.  It is one of the longest standing traditions at SU and a strong testimony to the vitality of our accounting program.  At the banquet, 22 students received scholarships, three received academic awards, and four received awards for their work in Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting academic honorary.


    Those attending the banquet included over 100 accounting students, faculty, staff, advisory board members, and representatives from the professional community.  The event is impressive in demonstrating the strength of our accounting students and the support our program receives from the professional community.  The advisory board in particular has been extremely helpful in recent initiatives such as the valuation program and the move to establish an internal audit program.


    Each year the Chair's Award goes to a student, staff member, faculty member, or professional who has provided exceptional service to the accounting program.  This year's recipient was Catherine Banks, who represents Ernst and Young on the department advisory board and has chaired the board for a number of years.  This award is very well deserved as Catherine has provided exceptional support to our program.  Congratulations and thank you to Catherine!


    Jani Medeiros, Administrative Assistant for the department, and Bruce Koch, chair of the department, did a great job of organizing and orchestrating the event.   Congratulations to Bruce and Jani and to the department for maintaining this SU tradition for so many years!



    2013 Business Plan Competition

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/17/2013 09:46:57 AM

    The 15th Annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition took place on May 15th.  The winning team was Recurrence, headed up by Albers alum Brayden Olson (BSBA, 2008) and MSF student Juan Arango.  Recurrence is a game simulation designed to improve leadership skills.  Interestingly enough, its initial target market is higher education - business schools!  Recurrence has teamed up with professors from UW to design its first game and is looking for other schools to partner with.  Maybe it will be the Albers School someday!


    First runner up was Nutraberry, a supplier of raspberry seed powder and oil to be used as an anti-oxidant food supplement.  The company has been developed by Albers alums David Wishnick (MBA, 2011) and Elana Lausberg (MBA, 2008), and is already shipping product to manufacturers.


    The second runner-ups were Octave and Universal Charge.  Octave is an app that teaches you how to sing.  Universal Charge will provide a payment system to electric vehicle owners for use at charging stations.  Octave was founded by five undergraduate students, headed up by senior Alex Tsway and including Brett Kennedy, Chenyu Wang, Michael Fogarty, and Thanh Huynh.  Universal Charge was developed by Brett Phillips, a current MBA student.  Octave took the Community Choice award at the finals, I am guessing largely on the strength of the interesting concept and Adam's authentic and congenial presentation style.


    The business plan competition is a great learning experience for our students and involves many volunteers as judges and mentors.  The deeper the students get into the competition, (which includes a trade show and elevator pitch competition) the more mentoring and coaching they receive, and the more powerful the experience.  The many volunteer judges and mentors are an important part of that and it could not happen without them!


    And let's not forget that sometimes these businesses become a reality - the students go out and start them!  In the process, they will almost always get assistance from members of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board and other friends of Albers.  For example, we estimate that students have raised over $4.5 million in start-up funding through the competition as investors are exposed to the concepts and want to back them.


    The business plan competition was a big success in its 15th year.  IEC director, Sue Oliver, and program administrative assistant, Nettasha Reese, did an excellent job of organizing the process.  Congratulations to them!


    2013 Albers Award Ceremony

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/12/2013 08:32:37 PM

    The 2013 Albers Award Ceremony was held on May 10th.  Some 23 students received awards for academic excellence, service, and leadership.


    Some of the top academic awards included the Paul A. Volpe Award for the graduating senior with the highest academic performance, awarded to Kalison Shilvock.  Ha Nguyen received the Academic Achievement Award for the Outstanding Transfer Student. Receiving the Jerry A. Viscione Award for the highest academic performance among our graduate students was Professional MBA student, Thomas Smith.


    The top leadership award went to Christopher Clem, who received the Spirit of Albers Award, which is presented to the student who best embodies leadership, enthusiasm, dedication, commitment to service, and compassion towards others.  Christopher, an economics major, was recognized for his work for social justice both on campus and overseas.  This includes working with micro-lending organizations both in Argentina and Seattle.


    Receiving the top service awards were Jonas Harris, who received the undergraduate award, and Daniel Klein, who received the graduate student award.  Jonas received his award for his work with ENACTUS and Redeeming Soles.  Daniel received his award for his work to organize professional and social events for our graduate students.


    The awards ceremony was followed by the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) induction ceremony.  BGS is the academic honorary for business students at AACSB accredited business schools.  Some 25undergraduate and 42 graduate students were inducted.  Dr. Fred Dekay does a great job of organizing the BGS students and getting them to accept the invitation to join BGS.  Year after year our chapter is designated a Premier Chapter by BGS because so many of our students accept the invitation.  Only our top performing students receive an invitation to join BGS.


    Dr. Peter Brous, Professor of Finance, received this year's BGS Teacher of the Year Award.  We also had four faculty members inducted into BGS - Dr. Bonnie Buchanan, Dr. Holly Ferraro, Dr. Jessica Ludescher, and Dr. Rubina Mahsud.


    We are very proud of the academic achievements of our students!  Congratulations to all our awardees!!

    Red Winged Leadership Award 2013

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/10/2013 09:40:42 AM

    The fourth annual Red Winged Leadership Award ceremony took place on May 9th.  The award recognizes individuals who have applied exceptional leadership skills and business acumen towards socially responsible goals in our community.  The event is organized by students in the Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization (GLFS).  For more on that program, you can go to:


    This year's finalists were Lynette Johnson (Soulumination), Paul Shoemaker (Social Venture Partners), and Molly Stearns (Overlake Hospital Medical Center Foundation). Molly Stearns received the Red Winged Leadership Award for 2013.  The award recognizes the great work she has done at the Seattle Foundation and Overlake Medical Center Foundation.  Although Molly received the award, all the finalists are winners!  For more information on the finalists and the great work they do, go to:


    The Red Winged Leadership Award is becoming a singular event for Seattle University.  Inspired by Seattle University's experience as a host school for the Opus Award, it is taking on a life of its own because our students are doing such a great job with organizing the process.  Its alignment with the mission of Seattle University and the Albers School also make it very compelling.


    This year's GLFS students did a phenomenal job of managing the award process and staging the event.  Each year, the students put their special stamp on the program.  This year, the students introduced a scholarship named for the winner that will be awarded to a Seattle University student.  That is a great idea!


    Albers is very proud of the work our GLFS students do with Red Winged Leadership Award, under the guidance of Professor Jennifer Marrone.  Hats off to all the students and Professor Marrone for a job well done!


    Spencer Rascoff

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/7/2013 09:31:40 PM

    On April 30th, Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, joined us as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  Zillow is a web-based provider of information about the residential real estate market.  Anyone buying, renting, selling, and borrowing in this market probably knows about Zillow.


    Rascoff helped found Zillow in 2005 and became CEO in 2010.  Zillow is expanding rapidly at the moment, hiring new employees not just in Seattle, but in California, as well.  Spencer noted several times that Zillow sees its role as empowering the consumer by unlocking information.  Zillow does not see itself as making the real estate broker obsolete, as there will always be a need for assistance with a complex and critical transaction such as buying or selling a house.  Zillow sees the role of the agent as having changed from "information gate keeper" to " transaction consultant."


    Rascoff opened by discussing his early career in investment banking and private equity, which proved to be valuable training for his later exploits, but also was too transactional and not satisfying for him in the long run.  Ultimately, though, that experience set the stage for co-founding Hotwire and then Zillow.


    In moving from Hotwire to Zillow, Rascoff said he grew weary of the travel industry and looked for another sector that could be impacted by the Internet.  Real estate seemed like another market where industry databases were locked away from the consumer.  Zillow set out to unlock that information and succeeded.


    While starting out in the home sale vertical, Zillow has now moved to home lending, rentals, and, most recently, home improvements.  Rascoff said this was enough to keep them fully occupied at the moment, and they planned to focus on the domestic market.  In entering the global market they would start from scratch and bring little to the table.  In the mean time, strong competitors have already adopted the Zillow model and have a head start.  A rapidly growing segment of their business is on mobile phones, and they have found it easier to monetize mobile than the web.


    In case you have not noticed, Zillow has done six acquisitions of late.  Rascoff said they have all been in "adjacent spaces" and they have worked hard to keep the existing management teams in place.  They have sold the acquisition by telling the target firm it can do what it does better with Zillow, where it will have access to more resources.  They have also used stock options to align the interests of management teams with shareholders.


    When asked about his leadership style, Rascoff said he was there to serve his direct reports and help them be successful.  He sees himself as a "player coach," and noted the higher up in the organization you are, the less you are responsible for actually doing things!


    When asked what advice he would give recent college graduates, he suggested students look at people who are 10 to 15 years into their career and ask if you want to live like they do!  Also, keep in mind that in a high growth company you are likely to have more opportunities for career development.  If a company is not growing, there are fewer opportunities and you tend to get pigeon-holed in a particular role.


    If he had to do it over again, what is one thing he would have done differently at Zillow?  Communicate more with brokers.  Zillow was an outsider and the industry was suspicious of the company, giving the most negative interpretation of the moves it saw Zillow making.  Only later did Zillow figure out how its actions were being interpreted by agents.  Today, the lines of communication are much better and brokers are forthcoming with suggestions for improvements.


    Spencer Rascoff gave a fascinating presentation on Zillow and his career leading up to its founding.  He also provided excellent career advice to the many students in the audience.  The final speaker for this year in the Albers Executive Speaker Series is SU alum Leo Hindery, Managing Partner of Intermedia Partners.  Hindery has a long career in the cable TV industry and is visiting from New York City on May 28th.  See you there!

    Business Ethics Week

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/22/2013 11:03:57 AM

    Business Ethics Week took place in Albers April 15 to 19.  The purpose of Business Ethics Week is to underscore the importance of business ethics for our students.  During the week, 50 business professionals visited 84 classes to discuss an ethical challenge they had faced at some point in their career.  Giving students real world examples of the difficulties they will face, and letting them know that others have found themselves in that spot, will prove to be very valuable for our students.


    Getting 50 people to campus to cover 84 classes is no easy task.  Many more people end up being asked than are able to visit.  I know that many potential speakers were out of town this week or their schedule was too busy to allow them to come to campus.  Nevertheless, we had some great volunteers coming to classes, including Robbie Bach, former President of Microsoft's Games and Devices division, Phyllis Campbell, Vice Chair of JPMorgan Chase Northwest, Brian Webster, CEO of Physio-Control, and Dan Wall, Senior VP at Expeditors International.


    Other events during the week included a presentation on the sustainability practices of Costco Wholesale.  Nearly 200 people showed up to hear Sherry Flies, who leads Costco's sustainability efforts, explain Costco's pioneering sustainability practices. 


    There was also a panel discussion around ethics and entrepreneurship with about 50 students and faculty attending.  If featured Albers alums Kent Johnson (MBA '71) and Meg McCarthy (BSBA '84) as well as Bryan Mistele, founder and CEO of INRIX.  Kent created the Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at SU and spent many years as a venture capitalist, forming Alexander Hutton Associates.  He now does business resolutions with his new firm, Aebig and Johnson.  Meg is a serial entrepreneur having successfully started businesses such as Pharmacy Automation Consulting Technologies, LLC and Bizzults.


    The final event of the week was a wrap up panel discussion on business ethics from the perspective of students, faculty, and professionals.  Panelists included Jeff Greenaway (CIO onDemand), Dr. Marinilka Kimbro (accounting faculty member), Eric Huang (graduate student), and Mark Pufpaff (undergraduate student). 


    The Center for Business Ethics organized the event, which is only right, since it is the advisory board of the Center that came up with the idea of Business Ethics Week!!  Those who were instrumental in the orchestration of Business Ethics Week include the director of the center, Dr. John Dienhart, and his two graduate student assistants - JP McCarvel and Sherry Ren.  It was a job well done!


    This was the second year of Business Ethics Week, although last year it was actually Business Ethics Day.  We intend to make this an annual event in the Albers School, continuing to make it more impactful each year!



    Lend Your Leg

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/5/2013 11:49:38 AM

    On April 4th, Albers students organized Seattle University's participation in International Mine Action Day, which commemorated the 14th anniversary of the International Land Mine Treaty.  Since its initiation, 165 nations have signed the treaty and 36 have not, including the US.  The theme of the day was "Lend Your Leg for a Mine Free World."

    The day included a gathering of over 150 students, faculty, and staff in the PACCAR Atrium for a picture of symbolic support for land mine victims - everyone rolling up their right pant leg to "Lend a Leg."  Here is the shot:

     Lend Your Leg

    This was followed by a showing of the film, "The Eyes of Thailand".  The film focuses on two elephant land mine survivors.

    Our campus participation in International Mine Action Day was inspired by the visit of Tun Channareth to our campus nearly two years ago.  Channareth received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to ban landmines, and was here to receive an honorary degree from the university.

    The students did a marvelous job of organizing the event.  Nine Albers student organizations collaborated with nine student organizations from other parts of campus.  In doing so, they showed that collaborating with others can lead to a more successful result!  Kudos to them!




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/28/2013 10:17:05 PM

    The week of spring break, March 25 to 29, I made a trip to visit Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) in Shanghai.  For several years, we have had a 3+2 program with SISU in which their students do an undergraduate business program for three years at SISU and come to SU for two years to complete our Master of Professional Accounting (MPAC) degree.    The student ends up with an SISU undergraduate degree and SU's MPAC degree. 


    Each year, we go to interview and meet with the interested SISU students.  Since SISU is focused on language training, we find the English language skills of the students to be very strong, but we still want to test that out by meeting with them.  This year there are four SISU students in our MPAC program.


    SISU was founded in 1949 as the Shanghai Russian College!  It is one of the Chinese schools included in the government's Project 211, which means it is one of the more prestigious universities in China.  It has about 7000 undergraduate students, 3000 graduate students, and 4000 international students!    It has 37 different undergraduate programs, 33 master's programs, and 12 PhD. Programs.  There are actually two business schools, the College of International Finance and Commerce and the College of International Business.  We currently work with the former but would certainly be happy to collaborate with both!


    For the past several years, Bruce Koch, chair of our Department of Accounting, has gone to Shanghai to do the interviews.  In the process, Bruce has become a rock star at SUSI, known for his enthusiasm, sense of humor, fondness for spicy food, and love of cold temperatures.  That is a tough act to follow.


    SISU has two campuses, one in the city (HongKou) and one out in the suburbs (Songjiang).  In 2008, David Reid and I visited the HongKou campus and our visit led to the creation of the 3+2 program.  The undergraduate business program is at the Songjiang campus, so I had to travel out there to meet with the students, visiting that location for the first time.  The campuses are night and day.  The HongKou is small and contained like the SU campus, but the buildings are packed more tightly and generally taller.  The Sonqjiang campus is spread out with stately buildings and wide grassy lawns, what you would associate with a large Midwestern university campus!  The HongKou campus is in a noisy, traffic filled neighborhood.  Songiang is in a quiet district of wide boulevards and manicured landscaping.  It is about 60-90 minutes by car between the two campuses, depending on traffic.


    First, I spoke to about 40 SISU students about the MPAC program and our new Bridge MBA program.  Some SISU students may be interested in the latter.  Then, I interviewed 16 students who were interested in the MPAC program to test their English skills and their interest in accounting.  Of course, it was very interesting to talk to these students and learn about their lives and aspirations as well as their interest in SU!  The interviews took place over two days, and in addition to our conversation I also gave them a short essay to write so we would know something about their writing skills.


    After the interviews, in consultation with SISU staff, we ranked the students for purposes of awarding several partial scholarships we offer to SISU students.  It was a difficult process since there were so many talented students, but we finally came up with a list we were happy with.


    Throughout the process, SISU was a very gracious host.  If the shoe were on the other foot, I doubt that we would do as good a job of hosting them to our campus!  In particular, Ms. Xiaolin Yan, who serves as Foreign Affairs Secretary for the college, was always there to get me where I needed to go, answer questions, and do anything else needed.  Thank you, Xiaolin!


    During my visit to SISU, I also talked to several campus officials about strengthening the ties between SU and SISU, which they are anxious to see happen.  Suggestions include a student exchange program, hosting visiting faculty at the two institutions, and creating a 3+2 program around the Bridge MBA.


    During the visit I also visited with our alum, Diane Jurgens, who earned her MBA at SU and serves as Managing Director for Shanghai OnStar, a joint venture between GM and the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Company.  It was fascinating to meet her and learn about her accomplishments, as it goes without saying that she is one of the few American women leading an automotive business unit in China or elsewhere, for that matter.  I hope we will be able to get her to speak on campus over the next year or so!


    I am now sitting in the Tokyo airport on my way back to Seattle.  I did not notice much different about Shanghai in 2013 compared to what I saw in 2008.  If you have been to Shanghai, you know it an impressive city with its miles and miles of high rise buildings and high rise freeways.  All this has been created in just a few decades.  It is interesting to see, but once you see it, it is not something you go out of your way to see again.  That means that both this trip and my next trip to Shanghai will be about visiting SISU, maybe to begin collaboration with their College of International Business! :}


    March Madness

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/27/2013 05:05:31 PM

    March Madness is upon us, and by that I mean the NCAA Division I basketball playoffs.  I travelled to Salt Lake City to watch men's second and third round action, which I try to do each year.  What can be better than watching six D1 games live over three days while spending the rest of the time watching games on TV??  Not all six games are exciting contests, but this year, four of the six were. 

    That included Wichita State grinding out a win over Pitt, Southern nearly upsetting Gonzaga, Harvard upsetting New Mexico, and the Shockers of WSU bouncing Gonzaga in the third round.  Not a bad regional, and it far exceeded my expectations looking at the lineup going in.  That just shows you one more time that you never know with college hoops.

    Salt Lake City was not the only place for upsets.  My alma mater, LaSalle, found a way to make it to the Sweet 16 as a play-in team, having not been to the tournament since 1992.  On the other hand, my other alma mater, Notre Dame, was upset in the first round.   And my team for 19 years, Creighton, won a close second round victory, only to fall to Duke in the third round.  Thus far, my affiliated institutions have a record of 4-2!  One of these days, maybe the SU men's team can make it to the dance.  The SU women nearly did this year, and they will be right in the thick of it next year, I am sure!

    Speaking of women's hoops, they are in the middle of their tournament, as well.  Normally, it is equally exciting, but this year is there any chance that someone can beat Baylor?  It just does not seem likely, which makes it less intriguing.  That is the interesting thing about the men's side this year - it seems like so many teams have a legitimate shot at the title.

    The Albers March Madness pool is back - I am so glad Madhu Rao has ramped it back up!  There is a lot of abuse unleashed every time the results are updated, and I get more than my fair share.  But that is OK, as it would be unseemly for the Dean to win.  It is important to have a respectable finish, however!  That Harvard win busted my bracket some, by the way!

    I have been going to Regionals since 1998, when Creighton qualified for the Big Dance for the first time under Dana Altman, and played in Orlando.  It was there that Creighton upset Louisville in the first round.  A few changes I have noticed since then is that (1) TV coverage of games is so much more available,  (2) tickets are easier to get and there are more and more empty seats, and (3) the commemorative t-shirts are so much easier to buy - they always used to run out of  them.  (1) and (2)  are no doubt related.

    There is one thing that sometimes becomes a problem, and that is fans (and announcers) sometimes forget how YOUNG these players are.  That goes a long way in explaining a missed layup or free throw at a critical point, losing one's temper and drawing a technical foul, or making a bad decision on an impossible angle shot or pass.  Then, sometimes an occasional fan will think it is humorous to get on a player like one would witness at a pro game - not very funny at all.  That is the advantage of working in higher education every day - you know how young the players are!

    I know that there are many critics of March Madness, saying that it exploits the students and makes millions of dollars for others.  On the first point, a scholarship athlete is getting over $50k in benefits assuming he or she is making progress toward a degree, and that does not factor in what a degree will do for lifetime earnings (on average).  Plus, you know those students just love the experience of being in the tournament! 

    On the second point, that is no doubt true, but schools are negotiating more favorable contracts with networks and more of that can be used to pay the costs of athletics (including the other sports for men and women!).  Plus, schools reap intangible benefits from the exposure in terms of alumni relations and boosting the brand of the school - just check with Florida Gulf Coast on that!


    Gail Yates

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/26/2013 08:14:45 AM

    Gail Yates served as Senior Development Officer for the Albers School from 2004 until she retired in January.  To recognize Gail's excellent service to Albers and the university, we recently held a dinner in her honor.  Those in attendance spoke in glowing terms about Gail's work at SU.  In addition to being a consummate professional, Gail was a great teammate, always willing to pitch in and help out where needed, even when the activity did not relate to her role.  She never said, "That is not my problem."


    During her time here, Gail probably had to deal with me more than she had to work with anyone else on campus.  That means she is a survivor - she put up with me all those years! :}   One thing that probably helped was our common enthusiasm for athletics, particularly college basketball.  Naturally, we were very supportive of Seattle U. returning to Division I athletics, and I don't have to ask her to know that she is VERY excited about the women's basketball team leading the WAC!


    An important thing to be able to say when you leave is, "I left the place a much better place than I found it."  That is definitely the case for Gail.  One example would be our alumni relations and the Albers Alumni Board.  Under Gail's watch, the alumni relations of the school have definitely improved and the Alumni Board has strengthened.  Alumni events such as the Crab Feed and the Golf Tournament are much stronger today than they were.  In recent years, Gail has been working with Rob Bourke to make that happen, but she has definitely had an impact.


    One of Gail's most important contributions was her work on the SU Capital Campaign - "For the Difference We Make" - which went from 2003 to 2009.  While the campaign was underway when Gail arrived, she definitely was instrumental in the success of the Albers School.  Our key projects were to create an endowment for graduate student scholarships, the Tinius Professorship in Accounting, and endowments for our entrepreneurship and business ethics centers.  The success of those projects is definitely paying off today, and is part of the legacy that Gail is leaving at SU.  The graduate scholarships have proven to be critical in the last few years as our graduate students have faced increasing financial pressure and declining employer support.  The Tinius Professorship has been instrumental in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty to our highly ranked accounting program.  The endowments for entrepreneurship and business ethics are providing significant levels of support to our widely admired Center for Business Ethics and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.


    Of course, Gail's success in garnering resources for the Albers School goes well beyond the capital campaign.  Other notable achievements include the PMI China Engagement Initiative, scholarships to fund student study abroad, and corporate support for the Summer Business Institute, not to mention my favorite, the Dean's Fund! :}


    Attendees at the dinner remarked on Gail's passion - her passion for fund raising and her passion for the university (you can add women's basketball to that).  They also pointed to her generosity with her time, talent, and her own giving.  When people experienced an illness or some other setback, Gail was always there to support them.  One person remarked that Gail did it without giving it much thought, that it was simply the thing to do, not realizing what a positive impact it had and that it was not the way everyone responded.


    Although Gail was in fundraising, which does not usually have much direct contact with students, Gail had a profound impact on a number of students during her time here.  She hired them as administrative assistants and trained and mentored them to do their work at the highest level.  This ended up being an important part of their education at SU, making Gail a professor with impact!


    While Gail has retired, she really hasn't.  It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her that she is continuing to work part-time on special projects for Mary Kay McFadden, VP for University Advancement.  This includes leading the search process to find a new development officer for the College of Science and Engineering and helping to orient new University Advancement staff.


    Gail Yates is leaving, but she will not be forgotten.  She will be remembered for her professionalism, for her willingness to pitch in and support her colleagues in Albers as well as University Advancement, and for her enthusiastic support of the mission of Albers and SU.  She will have the satisfaction of knowing she has left an impressive legacy at the Albers School.



    John McAdam

    Posted by Liz Wick on 2/8/2013 05:11:33 PM

    John McAdam, President and CEO of F5 Networks, was featured in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on February 7th. F5 is one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world, an application delivery provider whose products most of us use but don't realize!


    McAdam has served as President and CEO of F5 Networks since 2000. He took the company through the turbulent post-dot-com era, positioning it to grow from annual revenue of $108 million to more than $1.3 billion today. He has overseen numerous successful acquisitions, guiding F5 into new markets that enhance the company's Application Delivery Networking solution offerings. Under his leadership, F5 was added to the S&P 500, and Fortune Magazine named F5 to its 2011 and 2012 lists of 100 Fastest Growing Companies worldwide.


    When McAdam took over F5, their main offering was around load balancing and most of their customers were dot-com companies. Starting in 2004, they were able to offer traffic management systems and successfully target Fortune 500 firms. Making that bet was one that worked for F5! Through the years they have been able to expand their services to other areas such as data security. The rise of mobile data and the movement to the cloud have expanded their market considerably.


    In discussing the success of F5, McAdam emphasized the importance of culture, noting that employees need to be respected and respectful of one another. Other aspects of the F5 culture include innovation, integrity, metric-driven, and global mindset.


    Regarding the latter, most of F5's business is outside the US, and customers are requiring the same product. There is little difference in what they sell across markets, but the size of transactions is much bigger in North America.


    When it comes to his leadership style, McAdam said the most important thing is that people trust you. People at F5 clearly trust McAdam, and his humble persona definitely helps with that. Also critical, he said, is to surround yourself with good people - exactly what you would expect a leader with humility to say!


    McAdam had other important insights to share with the audience. One was that he is a great believer in paranoia when it comes to business - "only the paranoid survive," he said! It's clear that he will never let F5 get complacent.


    He also noted that a successful CEO must have a supportive board of directors. If he had not had that at F5, particularly when he first arrived, he would no doubt have left long ago.


    Technology is changing our lives and our society in ways we don't yet fully understand. With the rise of mobile devices and the cloud, F5 is right in the middle of many of these changes. McAdam noted there are significant growth opportunities for F5, and growth is necessary for F5 to remain an independent company. His visit to campus was an excellent opportunity to hear about some of the key trends in the tech industry, but also about successful leadership in a rapidly changing environment.

    The Cost of Higher Education

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/7/2013 08:38:58 AM

    Seattle University Magazine asked me to write an article on changes taking place in higher education.  It was published in the Winter, 2013 edition under the title, "The Cost of Higher Education."  If you have not read the magazine, the article is printed below.  I even received some nice emails from alumni on the article!


    Compared to other sectors of our economy, higher education has not changed that much.  How we do things is not all that different now than it was thirty years ago when I started my career in higher education.  We have continuously refined and improved upon what we do, but the basic framework has persisted.  That seems like it is about to change. 


    Two forces are coming together to force our hand.  One is the continuing improvement in technology that facilitates on-line instruction.  On-line instruction is not new.  It has been around for several decades, but what is different is that it is getting better.


    The second force is the high cost of higher education, whether it is private or public.  Private universities have been consistently raising tuition faster than the rate of inflation.  That is not sustainable.  Public higher education, perhaps underpriced at one time, has increased sharply in cost due to financial pressures experienced by state governments.  This story is familiar to every family trying to send their children off to college.


    Clayton Christensen, a management professor at Harvard, has made a name for himself with his research on "Disruptive Innovation," a model he uses to explain why companies at the top of many sectors have found themselves all the sudden struggling to survive.   Whether it is explaining the demise of Blockbuster, Kodak, Digital, or Borders, each was the victim of a disruptive innovation.  Sometimes it is the development of a new technology or process.  Sometimes it is the development of a new product that overtakes an existing product. 


    Christensen has finally applied his insights to his own industry, higher education, which is presented in his co-authored book, The Innovative University.  Christensen argues that universities will need to re-engineer themselves to assure on-going relevance.


    Across our programs in the Albers School, we expect these trends to appear in different ways.  Perhaps the slowest to be impacted is our undergraduate business degree, which by its nature has a strong formative character to it.  Where we think it is showing up first is in our MBA program.  Our program is strong and highly rated, but tuition and fees are high for the average student.  And while we have always prided ourselves on the flexibility of our program and the ability to accommodate working professionals, it still takes a lot of time and requires many visits to campus.  Overlaying all of that is a steady drumbeat of commentaries critical of the value of the MBA.  Of course, we don't agree with that, but that talk is on the street.


    To keep our program relevant, we need to reign in the financial cost and increase accessibility.  That means identifying what is really needed in an MBA and delivering that in an even more convenient format.  We need to design different ways for students to complete prerequisites, cut some of the coursework, and move to "hybrid" models of teaching, where lectures seldom take place when classes meet.  Instead, lectures are reviewed by students outside of class and class time is used for higher order activities.  To the extent that students (and employers, perhaps) question the value of the MBA, they may have more interest in certificate programs.


    There is no way to know for certain how "Disruptive Innovation" will impact higher education, but it would be foolish to assume it will not.  New developments are taking place very quickly and we must stay alert and ready to respond.

    Steve Davis

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/30/2013 12:42:59 PM

    Steve Davis, CEO of PATH, was the latest speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on January 15th.  The theme of his presentation was, "Innovation for Social Good," a topic he is well positioned to address.  His address explored the importance of cross-sector partnerships (business, non-profit, and government) in fostering innovation to solve societal problems.


    Davis has taken an interesting path to get to PATH.  Most recently he was at McKinsey as global director of social innovation, focusing on cross-sector work in global health and development.  Prior to that he was CEO of Corbis, the digital media firm, and also served as interim CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute.  He has also served on the boards of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Global Partnerships, and the Council of Foreign Relations.


    To illustrate his point about innovation and the importance of cross-sector partnerships, Davis gave the example of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, which PATH has been working on with the Gates Foundation, WHO, and others.  It began in 2001 and eventually achieved the breakthroughs needed to be at the point today where over 112 million people have been vaccinated.  One of the guiding principles of the project was that the price of a dose needed to be kept under 50 cents.


    To achieve that price point required significant innovation.  Ultimately, it meant PATH was working with a Dutch technology firm, an Indian manufacturer, African political leaders, and many others.  Key lessons learned from this and other innovative ventures include:


    1. You need to be clear about what you want to do.

    2. Partnerships are critical to success.

    3. You need to think of innovation globally.  It does not just happen in the US.

    4. It takes leadership to make it happen and it is hard work.


    Davis said there has been a notable shift in where innovation happens and where power sits in global health and development.  In-country capabilities have improved and countries are taking more ownership of the process.  In particular, the process has become much less patriarchal and much less dominated by global powers such as the US.


    When asked what advice he would give to students wanting to work in the global development field, he said:


    1. Trust your instincts.

    2. Be comfortable taking risks.

    3. Develop a specific skill.  Organizations do not hire many generalists.


    As someone who has gone back and forth between the for-profit and non-profit organizations, Davis was asked to reflect on differences between the two sectors.  He noted they had more similarities than differences and we need to "bust some myths" that non-profits are inefficient and business is greedy.  Business can be inefficient and on-profits can be greedy.  He also thought that non-profits are harder to manage since there are fewer financial tools and metrics are harder to come by.


    There was a large turnout for the event, with over 250 in attendance.  It was clear that students from across campus were present, not just business students.  It's an indication that Davis' message was well received and many are eager to learn more about the power of cross-sector collaboration.




    Bridge MBA

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 12/13/2012 04:26:38 PM

    The Bridge MBA is the newest program in the Albers School and will welcome its first class in September, 2013.  The program is targeted at recent college graduates who lack significant work experience and who do not have an undergraduate degree in business.  It is designed to prepare these students for a solid entry into the job market and, ultimately, a leadership role in their industry.


    The Bridge MBA is a full-time, one year program.  Students will take 12 credits a quarter for four quarters over a 12 month period.  There are many curricular and co-curricular activities designed to make up for the lack of work experience.  For example, students are required to do a consulting project, take on an internship, participate in the Albers Mentor Program, and attend Albers Speaker Series events.  These are "nice to have" activities in our other graduate programs, but they are not required in those programs.  Similarly, this is a full-time cohort program, whereas most of our other graduate programs are flexible part-time programs giving students many options in terms of when to begin and how fast to proceed.



    We are very excited about the Bridge MBA.  It will address a real need in the current marketplace as many recent college graduates struggle to enter the labor market and begin their professional career.  We get to design an integrated curriculum from scratch.  Courses will fit together and reinforce each other much better than happens in traditional programs.  Finally, it is a graduate program with many co-curricular requirements integrated into the student experience.  This is something new for us, because historically we have focused on courses to meet program learning goals.


    If anyone can deliver a quality fast-track and intense program like this, it is Seattle University.  We are very student focused, and the Bridge MBA will require a lot of support for the students in the program.  The Albers Placement Center is highly regarded by employers and will be able to identify internships for the students, and jobs upon graduation.  The Albers Mentor Program has been up and running for over two decades, so we know this is a fantastic opportunity for the students in the program.  Through the Projects Center, we have a strong track record of successful work with businesses on student consulting projects.  The Albers Executive Speaker Series has a ten year record of bringing top business leaders to campus.  In other words, we are well positioned to deliver on the distinguishing features of the program.


    I am very proud of how our faculty and staff were able to move the program from concept to reality.  A group of faculty and staff began work on this project in July.  Working over the summer (when faculty do not normally work on committees!), they were able to design a program proposal for the full Albers faculty to consider at the beginning of the fall quarter.  Responding to feedback, the task force fine tuned the program design, which was formally approved by the faculty in mid-October.  We then took it to Seattle University's Academic Assembly for its approval in early November.  Finally, the Seattle University Board of Trustees gave formal approval to the new degree program at its meeting on November 29th.


    To design and gain approval for a new degree program in less than five months is moving really, really fast!  Only at Seattle University can something like this happen!  It takes a lot of collegiality and campus wide support to do something like this! :}


    We will start marketing the Bridge MBA in January, but already we are receiving a number of inquiries as word spreads about the new program.  That is very exciting.


    When we first announced the program, students in our existing MBA program, which we are now branding as the Professional MBA program, wondered what this meant for their program.  For example, some were concerned that it somehow undercut the value of their degree.


    First of all, it is important to understand there are many versions of an MBA degree and a number of schools have as many as six or seven different MBA degrees.  Even locally, schools have a variety of MBA degrees.  For example, the main campus at the University of Washington has a Full-time MBA, a Part-time MBA, and a Technology MBA.  They are all legitimate MBA degrees and one does not detract from the other.  Like us, they also offer an Executive MBA degree, which is yet another version of an MBA. 


    What most distinguishes them is the audience they are designed for, and this is definitely true for our Bridge MBA and Professional MBA.  The Bridge MBA is designed for students lacking work experience.  The Professional MBA is designed for students who have significant work experience.  We know from past experience that those two groups should not be mixed, because students with work experience have a strong desire to learn from other students with professional experience.  They do not like students in the classroom who do not "bring something to the table" for class discussions.


    Over the years, we have always been clear about the need for students to have work experience in order to enter our Professional MBA program.  Still, we would always have a number of students applying to the program who lacked that experience, and we, of course, would deny them admission to the program.  Now, we have a program for those students, and seeing all those applications over the years is one reason we are optimistic about the prospects for this program.


    The required co-curricular activities for the Bridge MBA are an important distinguishing feature when comparing the program to the Professional MBA.  The Professional MBA relies much more on classes (and credit hours) to achieve outcomes.  The Bridge MBA relies much less on credit hours, instead supplementing classroom activity with co-curricular requirements.  In fact, we are now reviewing the Professional MBA to determine how it needs to be restructured to remain up-to-date and relevant in the market.  For example, it could come back with fewer required credit hours and new co-curricular requirements, borrowing to some extent from the Bridge MBA.


    We are excited about the opportunity to offer the Bridge MBA.  We think it will prove to be a very good program for a number of students.  We look forward to welcoming a strong cohort in Fall, 2013.  In the meantime, if you know of anyone who is interested in learning more about the program, have them contact Jeff Millard at




    Mary Carpenter

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/29/2012 09:58:09 AM

    Mary Carpenter, who had been serving as Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, retired from Seattle University on October 31st.  Mary first joined Seattle University in 1988, first working in the Dean's Office and then transitioning to graduate programs.  To recognize nearly 25 years of outstanding service to the university and Albers, we hosted a dinner in Mary's honor on November 26th.


    Fr. Steve Sundborg was able to attend and presented Mary with the "Honored Retiree" Award from the university.  The award is presented to exceptional staff upon their retirement from the university, and Mary is certainly deserving of the award (which includes privileges such as SU email, library access, and Connolly Center access).  Fr. Steve recalled that when he first started as President, they wanted to have a staff representative on the SU Executive Committee.  Mary filled that roll for two terms, which says something about the respect people have for Mary.  There was never any doubt that she would ably represent staff and not be afraid to speak up!


    I first met Mary before I arrived at SU in 2001.  Jebnet is a group of Jesuit business graduate program directors that meets twice each year, and Mary was representing SU while I was representing Creighton.  Mary was well established with the group and one of the key leaders by the time I started attending meetings in 1997.  She welcomed me aboard and showed me the ropes.  When I applied for the dean's job at SU, I was happy to see that Mary was on the search committee.  Of course, I don't know what that did for me, and have never wanted to ask! :}


    I have always been impressed with Mary's attention to the needs of students.  "Students First!" could have been her personal tag line.  Her dedication to students no doubt rubbed off on other Albers faculty and staff over the years.  Mary was also always one to pitch in and help with any project that we happened to be working on.  You could always count on her to be a team player.  Of course, you would also get her opinion on how the project needed to be done, whether it corresponded with your own or not!


    A number of faculty and staff stood up to share their favorite memories of Mary.  Several faculty spoke of her invaluable assistance in helping them in their role overseeing one of our graduate degree programs.  Several staff mentioned some personal difficulties they had experienced and how Mary had been so supportive of them at a critical time.


    Mary got to tell a few stories, as well.  One was that former Albers dean Jerry Viscione used to call her "The Flasher," because she was always leaving budget documents in plain sight on her desk!


    Great universities are built by the efforts of people like Mary Carpenter.  Thank you, Mary, for everything you have done for SU and its students!  You have created quite a legacy!








    Tom Marra

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/21/2012 05:17:56 PM

    Tom Marra, President and CEO of Symetra, was our latest speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series, visiting on November 19th.  Symetra is headquartered in Bellevue and provides employee benefit, annuity, and life insurance products.  Marra has served as CEO since 2010.  He has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, beginning his career at The Hartford Group, which he left after serving as president and chief operating officer.


    Marra explained the origin of Symetra, which at one time was the life insurance division of Safeco Insurance.  Safeco sold the division to White Mountain Insurance Holdings in 2004, which included other investors such as Berkshire Hathaway.  The current ownership structure is 20% White Mountain, 20% Berkshire Hathaway, and 60% publicly traded.


    The title of Marra's talk was, "Respect the Cash Cow."  To explain that, he shared a simple tool that he uses to make good decisions about different business units in a company, what he called the "Boston Matrix."  On one axis is the growth prospects for the business - high or low??  On the other axis is market share - high or low??  A business can be classified into one of four quadrants: high growth and market share("Stars"), high growth and low market share (??s), low growth and high market share ("Cash Cows"), and low growth and low market share ("Dogs").



    Cash Cow


    The goal should be to become a "Cash Cow" for the business.  "Stars" may not be sustainable.  Competition will be attracted into the market and profitability will be challenged.  Or, they may become cash cows.  A Question Mark (??) is unproven but has potential.  The problem is it is not making money, it is burning cash.  The Cash Cow may help fund the Question Mark, but you don't want to do that for too long.  A "Dog" is losing money, but can prove hard to get rid of.  It may have been the first line of business and so people want to hold on to it for too long.


    When asked about the "Fiscal Cliff," he noted that their business tracks with the economy.  They do well when family income is rising.  Symetra wants to see a strong economy.  He is hopeful that a bi-partisan effort will succeed in avoiding the Fiscal Cliff.  He noted that higher personal income taxes should help Symetra's tax saving product line.


    Marra also explained how the low interest rate environment created by the Federal Reserve is a drag on their performance.  The low rates depress the performance of Symetra's investment portfolio and ultimately force them to raise insurance rates.


    When asked for one piece of advice he wished he had received upon entering the job market after college, he said he wished someone had told him that he had more control over his career progress than he realized.  He noted that if you network and find a mentor, it can help you take charge of your career and make moves that you didn't realize you could make.  Another plug for the Mentor Program and networking!


    One panelist asked Marra if it was problematic to be an insurance company headquartered in a town known for technology.  He said the problem had more to do with Seattle not being an insurance town, because it will be more difficult to network with others in your industry, and networking is very important.  If you are in Hartford, which is such a hub of insurance activity, you can network at your children's soccer game because there are sure to be half a dozen other parents working in the industry.  Not going to happen in Seattle.  As a result, he tells his employees to get out and join industry groups, attend conferences, and visit customers more frequently.  Another challenge is you are not as near the customer.  The Northwest does not have the same population density that other parts of the nation have.  It means longer, more time consuming trips to see the customer.


    When asked about the comment by previous speaker Jim Sinegal, former CEO of Costco Wholesale and now Executive in Residence for Albers, that culture is the most important thing about an organization, he said he could not agree more.  He described the Symetra culture as one of teamwork, mutual support, and respect.  People support each other.  Leadership is necessary to provide direction, but everyone is important and valued.  It is important to remember the competition is out there, not in the organization!


    It was another great opportunity for our students to hear from a respected business leader, in this case one representing the insurance industry, Tom Marra from Symetra.




    Dean's Office Heats Up

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/31/2012 03:49:15 PM

    On October 26th we discovered that the Dean's Office had no heat, as in the thermostat did not work!  It turns out that the thermostat has not worked since the building was remodeled in 1996!  The system was set up so that an adjoining office (Ilona's current office) controlled the heat for all the offices along the corridor!  Now the Dean's Office has its own thermostat, so is no longer a hostage to climate conditions somewhere else.


    Now this probably explains many of those instances when you wondered what the Dean was thinking!  It can now be attributed to "brain freeze," at least during the winter months. This does not just include me, but also past luminaries such as Jerry Viscione, Fred DeKay, Jan Duggar, and David Arnesen.


    It also has impacted the work of Mary Carpenter, Ilona Legesse, and Jennifer Horne.  Imagine what they have had to overcome to maintain their high level of operational effectiveness!


    The challenge for me is I no longer have that excuse and we are entering the winter months!

    Jesuit Business Deans

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/26/2012 09:08:57 AM

    October 21 to 23 I attended the American Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Business School Deans meeting.  Creighton University was the host, so of course it was fun to return to the campus and see so many people that I used to work with!  For example, I saw my first soccer game at Michael G. Morrison, S.J. Stadium, which is one of the best college soccer venues in the nation. [Creighton beat Bradley 1-0 on an early penalty kick, and the Jays were the better team.]


    Fr. Morrison was President of Creighton for 18 of my 19 years there.  I recall that when I visited Creighton as a job candidate, my schedule included a meeting with Fr. Morrison.  Can you imagine -- the university President meeting with some last-minute 25 year old job candidate??  It was April, and the only reason I was there is because they had made an offer to someone earlier in the year and he had accepted and then changed his mind, forcing them to scramble back into the market!


    This meeting was different in that it included associate deans and marketing directors.  Susan Weihrich also attended the meeting, but Barb Hauke did not (could not find out what the meeting agenda was).  Deans from 13 Jesuit business schools were there, and there were an additional six schools represented by an associate dean.  So, 19 of the 28 Jesuit universities participated (four Jesuit schools do not have business schools, so would not be expected to attend).  Some parts of the meeting included everyone, some broke us up into the three groups.


    Much of the meeting was devoted to technology and how higher education is changing.  I am a firm believer that going forward there will be a need for much more collaboration between institutions so that we can leverage what we do best.  Our Jesuit network, both in the US and around the world, gives us an advantage in forging partnerships with other institutions.  The deans talked about ways that our schools might collaborate.  For example, if St. Joe's has a Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing MBA (they do), perhaps some of their online specialty courses could be offered to our students.  Or, perhaps there is a way to partner across several schools to deliver our Health Leadership EMBA program.  Such collaboration would require us to move much deeper into online course delivery than we currently do.


    Our group has long wrestled with whether we want to do a joint branding campaign.  We have experimented with this, but no one has ever been satisfied with the effort.  At this meeting, we finally concluded that we don't have the resources or shared goals necessary to make this successful.  Going forward, we will make sure to keep our website, Jesuit Business Schools (, up to date, and do some search engine optimization for it, but not much else beyond occasionally sponsoring an AACSB event.  We will also work on developing some common language to explain Jesuit business education and develop a logo that we can use for mutual benefit.


    This meeting was in the Midwest, so it is time for the group to come to the West Coast!  In October, 2013, the deans will meet at Seattle University!  Let's pray for a little unseasonably dry October weather!






    Mark Vadon

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/19/2012 05:14:42 PM

    The Albers Executive Speaker Series kicked off the 2012-13 year with Mark Vadon, co-founder of two successful Internet startups - Blue Nile and zulily.  Mark co-founded Blue Nile in 1999 and zulily in 2009.  Blue Nile sells diamonds and fine jewelry.  Zulily offers daily deals on clothing and accessories for moms and children.  Both companies were inspired by Mark's experience as a consumer - trying to buy an engagement ring sparked the idea for Blue Nile.  Having to gear up for his first child led to applying the flash sale concept to children's clothing.


    In discussing Blue Nile, Mark took us back to the Internet frenzy of the late 1990's.  Jewelry was one of the few verticals that someone was not trying to dominate, but the experts were saying that jewelry would not work on the Internet because price points were high and people needed to touch the product. Despite the Internet crash with the resulting hit to capital access and the steep drop in consumer demand after 9-11, Blue Nile was able to survive and ultimately thrive.


    Zulily has been a big success and is growing rapidly.  The company just moved into the British market and has plans to expand to other global markets.   At one point, Mark did a "compare and contrast" of the two businesses.  Blue Nile is focused on male customers, zulily is focused on females.  Blue Nile does not lend itself to impulse shopping, zulily does.  Broad market advertising such as display ads do not make sense for Blue Nile - targeted advertising such as paid search works better for finding the customer about to get engaged.  Zulily can cast a wide net because there are so many more potential customers out there - moms with young children!


    What are some lessons Mark has learned in founding Blue Nile and zulily?  Get something out there and up and running.  Don't take three years to plan it.  Start collecting data and see what is working and not working and respond accordingly.  Execution is critical for success, so do not underestimate that.  Surround yourself with good people, and make sure they are not like you.  They need different skills and a different perspective.


    Mark recently joined the board of Home Depot and was asked how that fit with his interests and experience.  He responded that Internet sales are increasingly important to Home Depot and he brings his experience and understanding of Internet retail to the board.  He noted that both his businesses and Home Depot are customer focused, and he has spent his time competing against brick and mortar retail, so being on the board allows him to see the market from that side.  He is also amazed at the number of zeros in the financial report - he is used to seeing smaller numbers!


    Mark noted that mobile devices are creating a sea change in commerce and how customers shop.  Retailers now must be ready to serve customers across multiple platforms, with desktops, tablets, and phones all requiring something different.  Mobile is a plus for impulse shopping (think zulily), but not so much for more deliberative purchases (think Blue Nile).


    Mark Vadon provided a great start to the Speaker Series for 2012-13.  He spoke candidly and gave our students excellent advice, while also providing many keen insights on web-based commerce.  Thanks, Mark!



    Mentor Program

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/1/2012 11:55:33 AM

    On Friday, September 28th we kicked off the 23rd year of our Mentor Program with the Albers Mentor Fair.  Over 300 students, mentors, faculty, and staff gathered in PACCAR Atrium to start us off.  PACCAR also happens to be this year's sponsor of the Mentor Program!


    The Mentor Program allows students to benefit from the insights and wisdom of professionals from the Seattle business community.  Students participating in the program often report it is one of the highlights of their time at Albers.  Groups of 2 to 3 students are paired with a mentor, who works with them throughout the academic year.  Students often stay in touch with their mentor long after the year is over. 


    The Mentor Program is available to graduate students as well as undergraduate seniors.  Accounting mentors are available to accounting majors who are juniors.  This year we expect over 160 mentors to be working with 250 to 300 students.


    Since the program began in 1990, we estimate that over 4100 students have benefited from the advice and council of over 1000 mentors.  That is quite a legacy!  We have one mentor who has participated every year of the program - Jesse Tam.  Another, Willie Aikens, started in 1990 and has been a mentor in every year of the program but one.  We are very grateful for their long standing support of the program!


    The Mentor Fair is a very high energy event.  It is a bit like speed dating.  Mentors are scattered throughout the classrooms in the Pigott Building.  Students scan the list of mentors and then go interview mentors in order to help form their preferences.  Students submit their list of preferred mentors and staff attempt to match students and mentors.


    Our staff members do a terrific job of organizing this event and the entire program.  As one mentor told me on Friday night, "They have this on complete lockdown!"  Hats off to Mary Lou Moffat, Megan Spaulding, Hannah Garcia, and Paula Boos Fitzgerald for their excellent work on the program!


    For more information on the Mentor Program, go to:



    School Begins

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 9/18/2012 12:22:24 PM

    Wow, it has been almost two months since I have posted something to the blog.  For whatever reason, I have not had anything to say, but that does not mean we have not been busy at the end of summer.  It simply means it has not been blogging material! :}

    Classes begin tomorrow for the academic year.  Well, not really, since the EMBA students started classes in late August, but for most students, the academic year begins on September 19th! 

    We had our new student orientation for undergraduate students this morning.  It was a high energy event in the Paccar Atrium, where freshment and transfer students were milling around meeting facutly and staff and learning about opportunities such as study abroad and student clubs that can be joined.

    The dean made a few welcoming remarks -- here are most of them:

    At convocation yesterday, Nicole Gaddy, the ASSU president, gave you three pieces of advice.  I have my own four that I am going to give you - just a little overlap with Nicole.

    First, don't procrastinate in getting your work done.  The quarter system is only ten weeks and goes by quickly.  Your friends in the semester system have more time to play catch up.  You don't.  You need to get things done - soon.

    Second, communicate - with staff and faculty about any issues you are having.  If you are missing class for a week because you are sick or there is a family emergency, let people know that.  Don't let them jump to the conclusion that you are blowing off their class.

    Third, participate - get involved. There are lots of clubs, lots of organized activities, lots of community service opportunities.  Take advantage of them, they will expand your educational experience, and equally important, you will be contributing to the experience of others.

    Fourth, work hard!  We have a rigorous academic program.  This should not be easy, and over two or three or four years the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  We need to do something about this weather - it threatens to interfere with your hard work!

    What were the four? [editor's note: the crowd was able to repeat them, to my relief.]

    Real quickly, I want to talk very briefly about being a business student at this Jesuit business school. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that "business" is bad and couldn't possibly be used as a channel to serve the community and society.  It is a mechanism for doing good, but it is a human institution, and therefore can be a mechanism for not doing good.  But that can be said about any institution, including government or religion.… 

    When you reflect on yesterday's topic at the convocation, the future of our planet, it becomes very easy to see that no real solution to the problem of global warming is going to happen without business providing much of the solution.  There is already a great deal that business is doing to contribute, which you will be learning about in your classes, but there is no denying the record is spotty and not all business is pursuing a positive track.  That means there will be plenty of opportunity for you to contribute after you graduate!

    I want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the recent "We Built it" campaign.  Now, who knows what I am referring to here?

    [Editor's note: one student in the audience gave an excellent summary of the issue.  Congratulations, young man!  You should do well here!]

    I do not want to get involved with the Presidential campaign and who is the best candidate.  But I do want to take advantage of this opportunity to remind everyone that, despite all the negativity about the US economy, we really are blessed to be able to participate in one of the most successful economies in human history.  We have achieved a very high standard of living (albeit there are growing problems with the distribution of wealth and income, but I don't have time for that today).  We have one of the most supportive environments for business to operate in here in the US.

    The point the President was attempting to make (and maybe not with his usual eloquence) was that successful businesses in the US benefit from the supportive eco-system that exists here.  There are certain things that we take for granted that the rest of the world cannot - property rights that are respected, a legal system that works, infrastructure, education, relatively low taxes, etc…  This system supports the success of individual entrepreneurs and if they had tried to do what they do somewhere else, it probably would not have worked.  It is hard to imagine how that can be a controversial point!

    That leads to a second consideration, which is if you benefitted from what the community has provided, you have a responsibility to give back to that community and to help that system to continue to thrive.  This is not unlike the adage, "from those who much has been given, much is expected."  Of course, you know that service to society and the community is something that this university emphasizes a great deal, and this is one reason for that.

    A related point that the President wanted to make (and it may have clouded the message in trying to make it) was that somewhere along the way, all of us who have experienced some measure of success, including successful entrepreneurs, caught a break.   Maybe it was having an inspiring teacher at exactly the right time.  Or not trying to start a business just as a recession was commencing.  Maybe it was just being in the right place at the right time.  Maybe it was getting an unexpected check from grandma.  What ever it was, it was some kind of break that not everyone gets.  In other words, have some humility.  Realize that sometimes we are lucky.  I don't know anyone who has been successful who can go back and say they never, ever caught a break.  All of us have something to be grateful for, including a college education!

    These themes of contributing to your community through community service, or staying humble, are going to be part of your education here at SU and Albers.  Please pay attention to these important lessons and many, many others.

    I need to wrap this up.  There is only so much of my talking at you that you can tolerate.  Welcome to SU and Albers, and I wish you every success in your studies, but realize that is not going to happen without some serious effort on your part.

    Have a great quarter!


    European Junket

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/27/2012 10:11:54 AM

    One reason my blogging has been neglected of late is because I was in Europe for several weeks.  The first stop was in London, serving as part of a team visiting Imperial College to do its AACSB accreditation.  Imperial has a strong reputation in science, medicine, and engineering, and about a decade ago acquired a business school.  They have been working on getting the business school to the same level of excellence as the rest of campus, and securing AACSB accreditation is part of their plan.


    I had never been to London before, and it was interesting to be there before the Olympics and witness some of the preparations taking place.  Everyone was sure that traffic would be a disaster during the games.  As for the sights of the city, I found the British Museum, the British Library, the Courtauld Gallery, and Churchhill's Underground Bunker to be the most interesting spots! 


    Next I flew to Barcelona, for the 18th annual meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS).  But before that, my wife and I took a cruise out of Barcelona, with stops near Toulon, Nice, Florence, Rome, and Naples.  This was our first cruise, and it worked out well.  Every stop allowed for a new adventure.  At Toulon, we took a train to Cassis, a picturesque coastal town known for its white cliffs (calanques).   Near Nice, we disembarked in the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer and hiked around the high priced Cap Ferrat peninsula, including a visit to the Rothschild mansion and gardens.  At Florence, we took a bus into town and saw the Uffizi Museum and the Medici Chapel.  At Rome, we took the train into the city and retraced our March visit for a day, seeing the Pantheon and seven different churches, including the Jesú Church.  In Naples, we took the tour to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii.


    Back in Barcelona, IQS was the host school for the conference and we started with the IAJBS board meeting on Sunday, July 22nd.  The issue that took up the most time - should we start charging annual membership dues?  The answer was - yes!!  Fr. Michael Garanzini, President of Loyola of Chicago and Secretary for Higher Education for the Jesuits worldwide, joined our meeting and updated us on the order's plans for Africa.


    The conference opened with a mass in the early evening.  Formal sessions started Monday morning, the 23rd.  The most interesting for me was the update on plans to establish Jesuit business programs in Africa.  I first discussed this topic in a blog last summer (see IAJBS on 7/26/11).  Progress is being made, but not at warp speed.  There are now four initiatives in Ivory Coast, the Congo, Kenya, and Burundi.  The Ivory Coast initiative is the only one with programming up and running.  The others are hoping to begin programs in 2014.  Fr. François Kabore, SJ is heading up the West Africa Project which is located in the Ivory Coast.  While I don't see us playing a major role in this initiative (they seem to have several other Jesuit schools already supporting them), I did talk to him about the possibility of faculty teaching there (either in the summer or on sabbatical) and doing internship placement for our International Economic Development and/or International Development Internship Program.  He was very positive about both.


    We continue to be in touch with the organizers of the Great Lakes Region initiative, which is designed to serve students from Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo in a bilingual (English and French) program.  The plan is to begin with an undergraduate business program in 2014.  Dean Alain Decrop from Namur University in Belgium is heading this up and is looking to Albers to be a supporting institution.  That would entail assisting with the development of the undergraduate curriculum as well as having some of our faculty teach in the program.  How much teaching still needs to be determined.  Dean Decrop is likely to visit SU in early October for further discussions.


    Fr. Fidelis Udahemuka, SJ is heading up the East Africa project in Kenya.  (Interestingly, Fr. Fidelis almost ended up enrolling in our MBA program, opting at the last minute to attend Santa Clara because he knew the Jesuit community there.)  There, the plan is to start with an EMBA program in 2014.  I suggested to him that he consider using our assistance to develop the curriculum, drawing upon our highly successful and highly ranked Leadership EMBA program.  He was very open to that offer.


    Late Monday afternoon Carl Obermiller and April Atwood presented their paper, "Sustainable Literacy Scale Development," which detailed their work to develop a scale to measure student knowledge about sustainability issues.  April did the presentation and did a nice job with it.  I made sure not to tell her that the head of Jesuit higher education worldwide, Fr. Garanzini, was in the audience - I did not want to make her nervous! :}


    The next day, Meena Rishi was delivering her paper on sustainable development in India, but I missed it because we flew back to Seattle that morning!  I am sure it went well, though.


    As for Barcelona, it is a very interesting city.  The most amazing site is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, the Gaudi inspired basilica that has been under construction since 1882 and is only 65% completed.  There are many streets and alley ways to wonder in the downtown section near the Ramblas and a few other churches to see, but they don't compare to the churches to be seen in Rome.


    There you have it - a quick summary of my junket to Europe.  Now it time to get back to work!





    Catholic Business Education

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/20/2012 05:50:07 PM

    On June 18 to the 20th the Eighth International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education was held at the University of Dayton.  The theme of the meeting was, "Renewing Mission and Identity in Catholic Business Education."  Over 150 faculty from more than 75 Catholic universities from around the world participated in the event.  I served on the planning committee for the event.


    Dayton, Ohio is hot and humid this time of year, and it is not the easiest place to get to (particularly for international participants), but once you get there, it is a pretty manageable place.  Anyone from Seattle will notice there is a lot less traffic!


    The most interesting part of the meeting for me was the participation of Cardinal Peter Turkson, who is heading up the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP).  The PCJP recently published, "Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection."  It is a very readable document that pulls together what Catholic Social Teaching means for business.  If you have ever read any of the encyclicals on CST, you know they are rich documents, but very difficult to plow your way through.  It is nice to have such an accessible document that does such a nice job of summarizing the positive role business should play in our society!  You can find the document at:


    The Cardinal kicked off the conference by celebrating mass, which of course is a great way to start a conference for Catholic business schools.  I believe it was the first time I have been at a concelebrated mass where most of the priests were Black, a result of the mix of attendees at the conference.  Four of the five priests (including the Cardinal), were Black.  I guess I should chalk it up as, "A Sign of the Times." :} [Vocations are strong in Africa and parts of Asia, and weak in Europe and the US.] I am also trying to recall the last time I was at a mass led by a Cardinal.  I think it might have been way back when I was eight or nine years old and Cardinal John Krol was presiding at my Confirmation at St. Cyril's Church in the Philadelphia diocese!


    The mass was followed by a talk by Cardinal Turkson on "Vocation of the Business Leader."  He confided that they called it a "reflection" instead of a "note" because the latter would have required it to receive various approvals from the Vatican bureaucracy, which of course means it would still be awaiting publication!  The Cardinal explained the process that was followed to develop the document, including the significant consultation with business leaders and academics.  His message was that business serves the Common Good, and he challenged Catholic business schools to bring that message to students and alumni.  He also talked about leadership, using the image of the shepherd as a figure providing leadership and sustainability to the flock.  I liked his point that the good business leader sometime goes behind when the flock knows the way, but sometimes must take the lead when new paths are being taken.


    The local Dayton newspaper covered the presentation and described the Cardinal as a "potential Pope candidate."  You can read the article at:


    The conference featured a number of papers presented by faculty in attendance on various aspects of Catholic business education.  There were several plenary sessions, including one featuring a panel of business school deans discussing the challenges they face in their positions.  I served as moderator and had the easy role of peppering my colleagues with questions on mission, working with other units on campus, the role of Catholic Social Thought in Catholic business education, hiring for mission, and how mission should influence faculty research.  These are not easy questions, but we had three deans with collectively over five decades of dean experience - Joe DiAngelo from St. Joseph's, Ellen Harshman from St. Louis University, and Tom Bausch, Dean Emeritus from Marquette.


    I had to leave the evening of the 19th, so I missed the last day of the conference.  All the flights home were significantly delayed.  It's the combination of thunder storms and no slack in the system!






    2012 Departures

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/12/2012 03:41:55 PM

    We had our end of the school year picnic on June 12th.  We had over 70 faculty and staff in attendance, including four retired faculty members.  It is always a good event, even if some faculty are still scrambling to get their grades in for the spring quarter!  It gives us a chance to close out the year and see everyone before summer begins and people scatter.


    The picnic is always used to salute those who are departing.  This year that included two people who could not make the picnic, so we saluted them at a school meeting on June 7th:


    Tom Kelley - Tom joined us full time in 2002 after a long and successful career at Arthur Andersen.  His last assignment was managing partner for the Moscow office, so Tom always had a lot of good advice for students with respect to their professional formation.  Tom was a rigorous teacher, and thanks to his undergraduate degree from Holy Cross, fit right in to our Jesuit institution.  Tom will be missed!


    Dino Falaschetti - Dino served the last two years at the Thomas F. Gleed Endowed Chair in Business Administration, which is a two-year visiting appointment in the Albers School.  Dino was very popular with students and enlivened the intellectual climate by organizing several panel discussions on contemporary issues where law, economics, and finance intersect (like Dodd-Frank!).   Dino is headed to Bozeman, Montana where he will be Executive Director of the Property and Environmental Research Center.


    At the picnic on June 12th, we said good bye to several faculty and staff:


    Rex Toh - Rex is retiring after 32 years as a faculty member at SU.  You can read my blog from May 25th about Rex!


    Mary Carpenter - Mary has been our Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and a few months ago was diagnosed with cancer.  She has been out on sick leave and plans to retire in November.  Mary has been working at SU since 1988.  Mary always had a "get it done" attitude and was always willing to tell you exactly what she thought, all of which I appreciate.  Mary was a strong advocate for our graduate students, and we will miss her very much.


    Steve Brilling - Steve has served as Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center and prior to that served as an executive in residence.  He has done a terrific job of building up the center, and in the process reaching out to the community for support.  It is not easy for a "business guy" to come to a college campus and be successful, but Steve has done that. Steve will continue to work with us in the family business arena.


    Kim Eshelman - Kim has served as the administrative assistant for the Entrepreneurship Center since 2007.  She has been instrumental in the continuous improvement the center has achieved.  She is an artist and is leaving to pursue her passion full-time.


    Carly Cannell - Carly joined Albers a year ago after working at SU's Center for Service and Community Engagement.  She worked as a program manager for our EMBA programs.  She just completed her MBA at SU and will be taking a position with The Boeing Company.  Carly was one of the students very involved with the project to raise $20,000 for the St. Ignatius School in Rwanda.


    A big thank you to Tom, Dino, Rex, Mary, Steve, Kim, and Carly for their many contributions to the Albers School!  We will miss all of you!

    Here is a picture of the Albers School faculty and staff taken at the June 12th picnic:


     Albers Faculty and Staff

    Graduation 2012

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/11/2012 08:16:53 AM

    On June 10th we graduated 299 undergraduate business students and 262 master's students at Key Arena.  Graduation is always a bittersweet moment for faculty and staff.  We know these students have to move on but we hate to see them go!


    The business sector has been under fire of late, but the criticism is broad and over-reaching.  Business makes a critical contribution to our society.  Our standard of living does not improve without a healthy business sector.  That said, not all businesses "get it."  They don't always understand the importance of ethics and integrity.  They don't always understand it is about meeting the needs of all stakeholders (not just stockholders) and the obligations a business has to the community it operates in. They don't always understand that the goal should be to create a sustainable, profitable enterprise.


    Our students know these things, and that is why we are excited to see these business graduates entering the workforce.  We look forward to the many contributions they will make to society for decades to come.


    Kudos to our students who received awards for their academic achievements.  At the graduation ceremony, Tiffany Wadel (BABA Economics) received the President's Award for the highest academic performance of a graduating senior who entered SU as a freshman.  She also received the Paul Volpe Award for the best business undergraduate academic performance.  Albers students Ted Adams (BABA ECIS) and Aran Kaweerattanaphon (BABA Finance) received the Provost's Award, which goes to the graduating transfer student with the highest GPA.  Both had the same academic performance, so there were two recipients of the award this year.  Albers has the highest concentration of transfer students on campus (about 40%), so it is not surprising that two of our students are receiving the award!



    On the graduate side, August Kristoferson (MS Finance) received the Jerry A. Viscione Award for the highest academic performance of a business graduate student.  By the way, both Volpe (1947-65) and Viscione (1988-97) are legendary deans in the history of the Albers School!  Too bad it was before the concept of blogging was created - they would have had some good things to blog about!

    Viscione Award winner August Kristoferson with Professor Holly Slay and his spouse, Melanie:


     Albers Graduation Reception


    Fr. Steve Sundborg, President of SU, speaking at the Albers Graduation Celebration:


     Albers Graduation Celebration II


    Fiona Robertson and Madhu Rao did an admirable job of reading the names of our graduates at graduation.  Probably the best that has been done since the dean stopped doing it!


    Not only did Albers dominate the President and Provost Awards this year, but we also dominated the singing.  Maddy Cary (BABA management) handled the national anthem at the undergraduate ceremony in the morning and Anna Klutho (BABA marketing) took care of the graduate ceremony in the afternoon. 


    Speaking of students and reflecting back over this academic year, our students did some amazing things in 2011-12.  Some of the highlights include:


    • The Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization students organizing the third annual Redwinged Leadership Award.
    • Our graduate students who raised $20,000 to support construction of the St. Ignatius School in Rwanda (overseen by their classmate, Fr. Jean Baptiste Ganza, SJ, who graduated with his MBA).
    • Our Beta Alpha Psi students (the accounting honorary) received the Gold Chapter Award (one of seven schools nationally) and won the KPMG Northwest Case Competition.
    • Our SIFE students, who won the regional competition and completed an incredible number of hours of community service in the process (over 3600 hours that impacted an estimated 162,000+ people).
    • Three Albers students/recent alums receiving Fulbright Fellowships - Michelle de Vera (graduated on the 10th with a BA in Economics), Senay Kahsay, and Kyla Hagedorn.


    Congratulations to our 2012 graduates!  There will be many opportunities for you to leave the world a better place than you found it.  We expect big things from you!



    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/25/2012 10:11:39 PM

    When the title is "Rex," everyone knows what the topic of this posting is about!!.  Professor Rex Toh is retiring from our faculty at the end of this year.  Rex has been a member of our faculty since 1980, so he has been at the university for over 30 years.  Rex has taught primarily courses in marketing research, statistics, and transportation.


    Everyone is going to miss Rex.  Rex has a unique style, which everyone seems to have learned how to navigate.  Basically, Rex can be very "direct."  If it were someone else, you might worry about it.  But it is Rex, so you don't worry about it.  There is a certain charm to it all that only Rex can pull off.


    Rex has been a great champion for the importance of faculty scholarship.  He has been a leader in this regard within Albers, and therefore on the SU campus.  He leads by example - he has nearly 90 journal articles to his credit!


    He has also tried to assist colleagues with their scholarship, either making suggestions to improve their work or inviting them to join him in research projects.  He has co-authored with a number of our faculty and served as a valuable research mentor for them.  Rex has not only had an impact on campus, but he has also impacted the profession.  For example, he recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, recognizing his work as both an author and reviewer for the journal.  It is also important to acknowledge that Rex was a "research pioneer" at SU, throwing himself into his scholarship at a time when research received little support from the university. 


    I discouraged Rex from retiring.  I asked him what he plans to do in retirement.  Surely, he will miss his teaching and research??  No, he says, he will keep busy with his gardening and travelling (Rex just loves a good cruise!).  I'm betting not and he will be back before long begging me to let him teach! :}


    Rex is very devoted to the concept of "efficiency."  He does not like take long to get things accomplished.  My favorite memory of Rex in this regard will be how he orchestrated the elections of Marketing Club officers.  I always imagined it as the way elections worked in the USSR!


    On May 25th we hosted a dinner to honor Rex and recognize his contributions to SU.   His colleagues in attendance noted his dedication to efficiency and scholarship, but also his success in the classroom.  He was very successful as an instructor of statistics, something his colleagues admire since they know what a difficult topic it is to teach.

    At the dinner, Rex was presented the plaque listing him as the 1982-83 MBA Professor of the Year.  It was retrieved from the "Albers Archives" and given to Rex for safekeeping -- until someone else on the plaque retires and we need to present the plaque to her or him! 



    We will miss Rex, and will always admire the legacy he has created at Seattle University.  Thanks, Rex!

    40th Anniversary

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/24/2012 10:41:00 AM

    There are many end-of-the academic year events, but one that I always look forward to is the Accounting Awards Banquet.  This year marked the 40th consecutive year for the event.  Forty years - that is an impressive run for the Department of Accounting!!


    Dave Tinius was on the podium this year as co-moderator of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP -- the accounting honorary).  Since Dave was involved in organizing the first award dinner, he was able to tell us that the first dinner took place in Campion Hall (as did the fortieth) and was organized to commemorate the launch of our Beta Alpha Psi chapter.  Dave noted that Campion looks better now than it did in 1973!


    Twenty-two different awards were bestowed on our accounting students.  Angela Bever, BAP president, received the BAP Leadership Award.  Michael Watson, the incoming BAP president, received the BAP Outstanding member Award.  Alex Mena received the BAP Community Service Award.


    The BAP students involved in the ceremony, such as Angela and Michael, were very poised and professional.  They made their faculty very, very proud!


    Our BAP chapter had a great year in 2011-12.  It was one of seven chapters in the nation to receive the prestigious Gold Chapter Award.  They also received two best practice awards at the BAP regional meeting, and one of them will now be competing for national recognition at the BAP national meeting in August (a financial literacy program done with Girl Scouts of America).


    Mary Carpenter received the Chair's Award, which goes to the staff member who provides exceptional service to the Department of Accounting.  Since Mary is on sick leave, she was not present to receive the award, but the presentation was taped for her viewing pleasure!


    One of the critical success factors for our Department of Accounting is the strong support it receives from the accounting professional community.  Prior to the dinner, the department advisory board had met and everyone was buzzing about what a great meeting it was.  The advisory board is pushing the department to take on a new strategic initiative, and not only that, stepping up to provide support for the project.  Advisory board members were joined by other accounting professionals at the reception and the banquet.  It was all an impressive display of support from the accounting community.


    Despite being on sabbatical this quarter, Department Chair Bruce Koch was there to MC the event.  [I have to admit that we ended up asking Bruce to do a lot even though he was supposed to be on sabbatical - I guess that means we cannot really get along without him.]  With his self-deprecating sense of humor, Bruce was able to keep the audience engaged throughout the ceremony.  Fortunately, he eased up on his normal supply of puns! :}


    Congratulations are in order for the Department of Accounting on the occasion of the 40th year of its awards banquet!  Talk about sustainability!!






    Business Plan Competition

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/18/2012 09:45:14 AM

    The finals of the 14th annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition took place on May 17th.  The winner was Populous Legal Services, a team of law students.  Unfortunately, I did not catch their presentation, so I cannot tell you about their concept, but I am sure it is good because their competition was very formidable.  The two final presentations I did see were well done and built around very compelling products.  The law students enrolled in a business plan class jointly sponsored by Albers and the law school.  I would say the class definitely paid off for them, as in receiving the award they made it clear their concept was developed through the class!


    Over 200 students, judges, mentors, coaches, and sponsors participated in the competition this year.  It has become a very powerful event and a significant learning experience for the students who participate, particularly those who make it to the final round.  It is a great benefit for Albers and SU to be able to draw upon so many volunteers from the Seattle community.  These volunteers are integral to the success of the competition.


    Each year the final presentations get better and better.  The students are much further along in their planning than they used to be.  I attribute this to the powerful influence of their mentors.  Each team participating in the competition is assigned a mentor (assuming they want one, which they better be smart enough to accept!).  The mentor is a business professional with an entrepreneurial background, and they advise the students in putting together the plan.  Introducing mentors into the competition was the best thing we have done to raise the quality of the competition.  Our mentors really have an impact!


    For a video on the impact of the competition on student learning, go to:


    The two presentations I saw were In My Grandma's Kitchen and Lockstep Shoes.  They were both strong presentations by Nick Woog and Joe Lancaster, respectively.  Nick plans to bring out a series of organic food products under the (much more manageable) brand, "Joe's," named after his father.  The first product is an organic garlic sauce.  Lockstep Shoes will license a design concept that shoe brands can incorporate to make it easier for the elderly, the injured, and the handicapped to get in and out of their shoes.  Both these products were very compelling (Nick took the runner-up prize), so that is how I know that Populous Law must have made a great presentation of a great concept!


    Scott Oki, well known Seattle entrepreneur and philanthropist, was the keynote speaker for the event.  He revealed that he grew up near Seattle U., at 14th and Yesler.  He made it clear that he did not grow up in a privileged environment, and ended up serving in the military and finishing his studies at the University of Colorado.  Scott also made it clear how hard one has to work to be successful, referencing his 90 hour work weeks and going years without a vacation. 


    Since leaving Microsoft 20 years ago, most of his work has been as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He highlighted two of his most recent ventures.  One is the Parents Union, which is a non-profit dedicated to pursuing school reform on a state by state basis.  It is designed to bring parents together who have an interest in pushing for K-12 school reform. 


    The second recent venture is See Your Impact.  This is a social networking tool for "the bottom of the philanthropic pyramid," as Scott put it.  See Your Impact allows people who are raising smaller amounts of money to leverage social networking.  An important feature is to allow the donors to actually see how their contributions benefit recipients.  See Your Impact posts images and stories of the beneficiaries that donors can view.  A group of our MBA students are currently using See Your Impact in an initiative to raise money for the soon to be built St. Ignatius School in Rwanda. 


    Scott's parting words of advice for students was, "Find your passion and go for it!!"


    The business plan competition is aptly named after Professor Harriet Stephenson, a member of our faculty since 1967 and receiving an award this year for 45 years of service at SU!  Harriet started our activities in entrepreneurship in 1990, and we would not be where we are today without her pioneering activity and foresight.  In 1990, it was hardly clear to academics that entrepreneurship was a worthy area of study!  Now it seems obvious.


    This was the last business plan competition with Steve Brilling as Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center.  Steve has been leading the center since 2004 and done a great job improving the quality of the competition each year.  Steve will be missed, but he is not leaving completely.  He will continue to play a role in our Family Business programs.


    Kim Eshelman has served as Steve's administrative assistant since 2007.  She is stepping down to pursue her passion as an artist full time.  We will miss Steve and Kim and thank them for all their excellent work during their time with us!

    Gary Scott

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/15/2012 11:28:45 AM

    Gary Scott was the final speaker in this year's Albers Executive Speaker Series.  Gary is a graduate of our MBA program and recently retired as President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft after leading the development of the C series, narrow-bodied airplane.  As Gary took pains to say, Bombardier is not trying to compete in the single-aisle airplane market with Boeing and Airbus, as much as fill a gap in smaller size end of the market.


    Gary joined Bombardier in 2004 as President of the New Commercial Aircraft Program and was named President of Commercial Aircraft in 2008.  He began his career with The Boeing Company in 1973, where his roles included Vice President and General Manager for the 737/757 programs and President of Flight Safety Boeing, which is the role he had when he left Boeing in 2002 to take a position with CAE, Inc., a leader in commercial aviation training.  While leading the 737/757 program, Gary oversaw Boeing's single aisle commercial airplane division through the biggest production build-up in the company's history to that point in time.


    Gary's presentation was on, "Leading a Non-US Global Enterprise," and he highlighted a few advantages that US firms have when doing business in the global market.  These are things that many of us in the US take for granted, but should not!  They include a huge home based market to grow up in.  Second, we don't have to worry about exchange rate volatility in that home market, whereas companies in smaller nations are forced to expand into other currencies much earlier in their development.  When US firms do venture abroad, foreign sales are still sometimes denominated in dollars.  You can bet that Canadian firms are not pricing their exports in Canadian dollars.  Finally, export financing through an entity the size of the US Export-Import Bank is not available in most countries.  This is particularly advantageous to large scale industries such as aviation.


    One advantage that US firms do not have is good people.  "They are everywhere," said Gary.  The trick is to create an organizational culture that leverages that talent.


    One questioner asked how it was that someone with a business background held leadership positions that one would associate with someone from an engineering background.  Gary's response was that you should always understand your product, even if you are the finance guy!  He was not afraid to ask questions about how airplanes worked.  Additionally, he was always willing to take on a new challenge, so in the process was continually learning about the business.


    Several questions were directed at doing business in China, where there are concerns about protecting intellectual property.  Gary acknowledged the challenges, but said that China is such a big market you have to be there if you are in aviation.  The key will be to find a way to establish the right partnership.  The market has confidence in Western aviation companies, and that can be a leverage point in establishing partnerships in China.


    When Gary was an MBA student at SU, we required a thesis for graduation (many an MBA alum has complained to me about that over the years!).  Gary reminisced about his topic, "The Capital Crisis in the Airline Industry."  At the time, people were concerned that there would be insufficient financing for growth in the industry.  Gary argued, correctly, that there would be no capital shortage.  Things have a way of working out, he said.  What you once thought was a stretch in terms of something like production capacity, is easily exceeded a decade later. 


    This perspective is what nearly four decades in the aviation industry will give you!  It was a great opportunity for our students to learn from an aviation leader!


    Gary's presentation was the last chapter in this year's Albers Executive Speaker Series.  We had another good year, with some of the highlights including Howard Schultz from Starbucks, Jim Sinegal from Costco, and wireless industry legend John Stanton.  We hope to do as well in 2012-13!


    2012 Red Winged Leadership Award

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/14/2012 03:08:25 PM

    The Third Annual Red Winged Leadership Award ceremony took place on May 10th.  The award recognizes local leaders who combine leadership and business acumen to make a positive social impact on the community.  The entire process is organized by the students in our Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization (GLFS), who are guided by Professor Jennifer Marrone.  There were 24 students in the 2012 GLFS cohort.


    The three finalists this year were Jocquelyn Duncan (Work it Out Seattle), Killian Noe (Recovery Café), and Dan Wall (Opportunity Knocks).  Jocquelyn is the Founder and Executive Director of Work it Out, which is a non-profit dedicated to getting high school dropouts productively re-engaged with the community.  She became increasingly alarmed at the wasted talents of young people in her community and was called to act.  In her remarks, she noted that there are 6.7 million high school dropouts in our nation, a daunting waste of talent, creativity, and energy.  She advised the audience to consider our legacy - "what will you leave behind?" she asked.


    Killian Noe moved to Seattle in 1999 and surveyed the community to find an unmet need.  She concluded that there was not enough support for those recovering from addiction and mental health challenges.  The result was Recovery Café.  She advised the audience to be ready to take a risk and don't wait until you are 100% sure to launch a new initiative.


    As a top executive at Expeditors International, Dan Wall was when he enrolled in our Leadership EMBA program.  The program requires students to develop a legacy project in the workplace.  Dan developed Opportunity Knocks based on his personal experience with Expeditors, where he started working at the age of 18.  Opportunity Knocks identifies high school students who are not planning to continue their education beyond high school and offers them a part-time job with the opportunity for a full-time job if they meet Expeditors' expectations.  The program began at the Seattle headquarters but has now branched out to offices around the country and, soon, around the world.


    For her work in founding Recovery Café, Killian Noe was selected as the 2012 Red Winged Leadership Award recipient.  Of course, all three finalists are winners and doing wonderful things to advance the Common Good!


    The keynote speaker for the evening was Jim Sinegal, our new Senior Executive in Residence and co-founder and retired CEO of Costco Wholesale.  It was Jim's second event of the day, as earlier he spoke to students in the Marketing Club at their end of the year event.


    In his remarks, Jim chose to focus on the legacy of Sol Price, founder of Price Club, who Jim considers to be his mentor.  Jim learned many things from Price, including that a business has a responsibility to the society it operates in.  The creation of jobs with good working conditions is the highest service that a business can provide to society.  Jim mentioned that the 30th anniversary of the founding of Costco would take place this fall, and that their original business plan called for 12 warehouse locations.  Today, Costco has over 600 locations in eight countries.


    We're very proud of the Red Winged Leadership Award and its effort to recognize an unheralded leader in our community!  Our students in the GLFS do an amazing amount of work to organize this event, and they are to be congratulated for their successful execution of what is becoming a Seattle University tradition!


    For more information on the Red Winged Leadership Award, including videos on the honorees, check out the website:




    Dan Nordstrom

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/27/2012 05:56:46 PM

    Dan Nordstrom, CEO and owner of Outdoor Research, was the featured speaker on April 26th for the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  His topic was "Anatomy of a Turnaround."  Nordstrom bought OR in 2003 when it was close to bankruptcy and revised the company so that today it is one of the strongest brands for high end outdoor apparel and accessories.


    In 2002 he had left Nordstrom, Inc. where he had been President of, and was looking for a smaller, more entrepreneurial challenge.  He said that a mentor gave him some great advice, "Don't buy a great company, buy a company that is successful in spite of itself."  Otherwise, you will pay a lot of money and it will be difficult to make it better.  Buy something you can fix and add value to.


    After acquiring OR, the first thing he did was to come and ask a lot of questions to employees and customers.  After all, there is a need to know what the business is about.


    He also noted the importance of sizing up the workforce.  You need to identify who the high performers are and who are the people that will need to move on.  Or, as he quoted Jim Collins, "First who, then what."  People come first, then everything flows from that, according to Nordstrom. It is critical to identify your best people and treat them well, and at the same time to identify your lowest performers and have them move along.


    An exciting point is when you get to hire new talent.  To get the people you really want, you have to have a good story and credible vision for the future.  The new employees can reinforce the need for higher levels of performance with the existing high performers, and that becomes a virtuous circle.


    Culture and brand are both very important to the success of a business.  One of the problems with the existing culture at OR was that it was not customer centric and thought it knew what was best for customers.  There was not enough listening to the customer.


    In the question and answer period, the following points were made:


    • Weather trumps the business cycle when it comes to OR's sales.  Bad winter weather means stronger sales.


    • When it comes to social responsibility and the OR supply chain, the factories of their suppliers offer excellent working conditions.  It is sub-contracting by their 20 main suppliers that they must be vigilant about.


    • OR does not want to spread itself too thin.  It prefers to focus on accessories and apparel.  It is not going to do tents and sleeping bags.  They don't need new categories, there is plenty of opportunity for growth in their current categories.  So what is their next challenge??  Staying focused!


    • With social media small companies can created a lot of noise.  He gave examples of that for OR.  Local events related to their product categories, in particular, are a good way to raise awareness of the brand.


    • Consumers are "tribal."  They want to belong to something, so they become OR customers as opposed to the customer of a rival brand.  They develop an emotional tie to the brand story.


    • He warned that it would be dangerous for OR to become a regional company.  Then, all their products would be about the rain and staying dry.  That would not have much relevance for customers in Colorado and Minnesota, where down jackets are important.  Down jackets are disastrous in the rainy Northwest!


    Dan Nordstrom has guided OR back from the brink.  It was a brand that was losing relevance, and now is one of the most respected in the outdoor industry.  It was hunkered down doing accessories "it's way," and has now expanded successfully in to apparel.  He is a leader who understands the importance of people, culture, execution, and brand.  It was a great opportunity for everyone in the audience to hear from him.


    Our next speaker is on May 14th, when Gary Scott, who recently retired as President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, will be visiting.  Gary earned his MBA at SU and his topic is, "Leading a Non US Global Enterprise."  It will be from 5:30 to 6:30 PM in Pigott Auditorium.



    Ethics in the Business World

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/18/2012 09:53:36 AM

    Ethics in the Business World was held on April 17th.  Throughout the day, professionals from the business community visited 55 Albers classes (undergraduate and graduate) to discuss ethical challenges they have faced in their career and how they resolved them.  The 55 classes were visited by 39 different professionals, meaning a few people visited more than one class.  Only one class was unable to participate.


    We had some excellent visitors participating in the program.  Speakers included Jim Sinegal (former CEO of Costco Wholesale and Senior Executive in Residence for the Albers School), Gary Scott (former President of Bombardier Airplanes), Brian Webster (CEO of Physio-Control), and Robbie Bach (former President of Microsoft Games and Devices).  Gary gets the prize for visiting the most classes - four!!


    The concept of Ethics in the Business World was proposed to us by the advisory board of the Center for Business Ethics.  Their thought was to have business leaders come to classes to expose students to some of the ethical dilemmas they are sure to face in their careers.  They thought that many classes might participate, but we challenged ourselves to have ALL classes meeting on that day to participate.  We got about as close to that as you can! 


    We also envisioned complementary activities throughout the day, so from that grew an alumni event in the morning featuring Professor Marc Cohen (Assistant Professor of Business Ethics), and Stan McNaughton (CEO of PEMCO insurance, who also spoke to a class later in the morning).  We collaborated with the College of Science and Engineering so that they would schedule their Boeing panel discussion on engineering ethics to take place on the same day.  Undergraduate students starting a campus chapter of Net Impact organized a panel discussion at the end of the day on socially responsible investing.  Net Impact is a non-profit that encourages business students to see business as means for social good.  The bottom line should be about more than profits, but also people and the planet.


    As you might imagine, with classes meeting throughout the day, the event was something of a logistical nightmare.  How to match all the speakers with all the classes??  No worries there.  Aaron Hayden, the graduate assistant for John Dienhart, our Frank Shrontz Chair of Business Ethics, was able to put that all together, including getting all the necessary parking passes (mid day visitor parking is something of a challenge!).  Aaron managed all the details and entertained our guests throughout the day.  It is not easy to get people to come in during the middle of the workday when some classes were meeting, but we managed to do it, thanks to the commitment of many of the volunteers.


    Ethics in the Business World makes a statement to our students. It reinforces for them the importance of ethical business practice and alerts them that doing the right thing is not always easy.  Nevertheless, one must hold to one's core values and recognize the importance of ethical business practice both for long run professional success and the effective functioning of our market economy.


    Many thanks to all the business leaders who participated in Ethics in the Business World!  It was a very successful event, and we plan to do it every year.  The students were the beneficiaries of the collective wisdom of our 39 volunteers.  I want to thank the faculty who surrendered some of their valuable class time to participate in this event.  It is another demonstration of their alignment with and commitment to the SU and Albers mission!




    Howard Schultz

    Posted by Liz Wick on 4/13/2012 09:22:07 AM

    Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee, spoke on April 10th as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  Howard has been in the news a lot lately because of both Starbucks' recent success as well as for his political commentary.


    Pigott Auditorium was packed.  Every seat was filled.  I wish we had more seats, because there were at least another 100 people who wanted to participate.  If people left early, we ushered someone in to fill that seat.  I've heard from many of you who we were unable to accommodate, so I am going to put a little more detail into this than I otherwise might!


     Howard Schultz in Pigott Auditorium


    Howard started off with a video about the Great Recession and Starbucks' response to raise funding for loans to small businesses.  The company decided that job creation was the most important thing needed, and small business was the best opportunity for that.  With access to credit for small businesses in short supply, the company started a campaign to raise funding for small business loans.  Howard is really proud of that video, by the way.  I was hoping the video was on the company website so that those who could not attend could see it, but it is not.  They suggested that people watch the video of their recent annual meeting, which has many of the same themes. 


    In his opening remarks, Howard talked about his efforts to fight back against political gridlock in Washington, DC.  If things were working well, Starbucks would not need to be launching the campaign to boost small business.  He noted that 154 CEOs had joined him in protest by holding back political campaign contributions.


    Another concern he has is the fraying of the social safety net.  With rising stress on state budgets, he thinks there is little doubt we will see further deterioration as states are forced to cut back their programs (Washington state is shaping up to be a prime example of this).


    He switched gears and started talking about developments at Starbucks.  He noted that a business is not going to be successful for the long term if it just focuses on maximizing profits for shareholders.  It must give highest priority to its employees, second comes customers, and shareholders are third.  


    He also noted that Starbucks had an important set of values that were part of the culture and retaining those was critical to success.  For example, he told a story of a large institutional shareholder coming to him in the midst of the Great Recession and suggesting it would be a good time to dump the employee health coverage plan to boost profitability.  Howard said, "He didn't get it."  Taking away health care would destroy the trust the company had built up with employees.


    He recounted his returning to the CEO role.  It was right at the beginning of the Great Recession.  The company had strayed from its roots, and its problems included it was a coffee company that actually was not making good coffee anymore!  Could something be more fundamental??  He talked about dramatic steps he took, such as shutting down for a day to retrain on coffee making, or holding a $33 million company meeting in New Orleans to get key leaders from across the company back on the same page.  While spoofed at the time, subsequent results speak for themselves.


    He spoke of some of the key to success.  These included loving what you do.  You need to enjoy what you are doing to be successful at it.  Second, surround yourself with talented people who complement your skill set and share your values.  A third key is to share success.  Give plenty of credit to others for their contribution to the success of the enterprise.


    He closed with an uplifting message.  He was not born into privileged circumstances.  He has come a long way from humble beginnings.  He grew up in the projects.  He did not attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford.  One of the keys was to dream big dreams and not let others discourage you from achieving them.  His life story is the American Dream.  "Dream big dreams and then dream even bigger dreams," he said!


    It was then time for the Q&A, starting with questions from our panelists, which included alum Jody Hall (owner of Cupcake Royale), undergraduate student Arielle Newcomb, and MBA student Michael Wang. 


    There were interesting ties in their background that might have made one think we knew that when we put them on the panel.  Jody started working at a Starbucks in 1988 when she was still a student at SU in order to get money for Christmas presents.  At that time, there were only about 30 stores (compared to over 17,000 today).  She ended up working at Starbucks for eleven years (her last role was head of marketing for music and entertainment), and you can see the influence of Starbucks on her business (health benefits for employees, giving back to the community, etc…).  For Arielle, her first job was as a Starbucks barista in Redmond, WA in 2007!  Truth be told, we did not learn all that until after they agreed to be panelists!  Nothing on Michael and Starbucks that we could uncover, though.


    In the Q&A, he made a few interesting points:


    • Regarding China, they have found that it is important that the leadership team needs to be Chinese, not ex-pats.  They know the culture and the politics.
    • Regarding India, they greatly admire Tata and what the company stands for.  They decided that they wanted to be partners with Tata and pursued that goal.
    • One question asked about all the new beverage products (juices, sports drink, etc…) that the company is planning, and whether Starbucks would remain a coffee company.  Howard responded that the core competency of the company for over four decades was coffee.  That was not going to change, BUT, it is important to retain the entrepreneurial spirit of the company, and from time to time they need to experiment with new products.
    • One question asked him to reflect on what would have happened to the company if he had not returned as CEO in 2008.  He responded that he was well positioned to return.  He understood the company and its heritage.  If someone was hired from the outside, they would not have had that understanding and by the time they did, it may have been too late.
    • He noted that there had been two important shifts in employees and customers in the last few years that all businesses have had to address.  Customers are much better informed about companies, including the company's values and culture.  Customers want to support companies with values similar to their own.  Regarding employees, many employees had a previous employer with a dysfunctional culture.  They arrive with a certain amount of cynicism and distrust.  It is critical to demonstrate to them in the first 45-60 days that they are valued and that the firm has a mission they can embrace.  A company that can do these things has a significant competitive advantage.
    • The final question brought him back to the political scene.  He illustrated the problem by recalling how President Truman sold the Marshall Plan to the nation and both political parties.  He asked if such a thing would be possible today.  The answer is no.  Our political debates are dominated by the extremes on the Right and the Left.  The much larger middle is going unheard.  We need to get back to the middle and not be held hostage by ideology and partisanship.


    Regarding the turnout, I have had a number of people imply their disappointment about not getting into Pigott Auditorium.  We were hoping for a strong turnout, but it was definitely larger than we had anticipated.  Maybe we would have done a few things differently, but someone was sure to be left out. 


    What I was struck by was the number of undergraduate students in the audience.  Past experience is they don't turn out for the speaker series, but they were here for Howard Schultz.  I was glad to see them, and hope they can take advantage of future speakers. This does suggest that Howard has captured the imagination of this group of students and the generation they represent.  He has "rock star" status.  He could use this to assert a positive influence over them!  It is an opportunity that very few people have, and it will not last forever.  That is something for him to think about!


    Next up is Dan Nordstrom, CEO of Outdoor Research, on April 26th.  Come learn about how Dan revived this iconic outdoor equipment brand!



    Wealth or Waste?

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 4/6/2012 02:51:59 PM

    An article appeared in the April 5th edition of the Wall Street Journal - "Wealth or Waste?  Rethinking theValue of a Business Major."  The article claims "faculty members, school administrators, and corporate recruiters are questioning the value of a business degree at the undergraduate level."


    Where are these faculty, administrators, and recruiters?? I have yet to run into them!  The article says the biggest complaint is that "undergraduate (business) degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don't develop enough critical thinking and problems solving skills…"


    Message to Melissa Korn, the writer, and all the faculty,administrators, and recruiters that she apparently knows that I don't - not all undergraduate business programs are alike!!


    Let's take the business program at Seattle University and other Jesuit schools like us.  Our business students take the same university core curriculum that other students on campus take.  That means the same history, philosophy, theology,science classes that psychology, political science, and math majors are supposed to take.  This means 60 of the 180 credit hours required for graduation, excluding the economics and statistics and business ethics courses they take that are offered in the business school.


    So, to the extent you think that critical thinking and problem solving skills are only gained outside the business curriculum, Albers students are covered.  But, I am not willing to admit that the business curriculum does not contribute to these skills.  Quite to the contrary!  Our students see plenty of real world projects, case studies, and writing assignments in business courses that, among other things, develop their critical thinking and problem solving capabilities.


    The author says schools are "taking the hint," and responding accordingly.  For example, George Washington University is turning to their psychology and philosophy departments to teach business ethics.  Um, excuse me, but the Albers School has three business ethics professors with PhD's in philosophy.   We love our colleagues in psychology and philosophy, but we don't need to run to them for help to teach business ethics, nor do we need to add a business ethics course to our curriculum - it's already there.


    Ironically, in the April 5th edition of our student newspaper, The Spectator, there was an article about the current job market for students.  A main point of the article was that the good news about the job market is misleading, because it is business (and engineering) students who are getting all the job offers! 


    This is the ultimate test!  What does the market want?  Right now the market is saying it wants to hire talented and well-prepared students from the Albers School! If you check out the Albers Placement Center, you will see that there are many companies interested in our students.  If our students lacked critical thinking and problem solving skills, the Albers Placement Center would be very quiet right now.


    I can't speak to what happens in every business school, but it is time for the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other "experts" to stop treating undergraduate business education as a flawed homogenous experience.


    Crab Feed

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/31/2012 11:32:02 AM

    On March 25th we held the 10th annual alumni crab feed.  The event was started by the Albers Alumni Board and has become an annual traditional.  It was the first event organized by the board, and over the years there have been more than 3,000 attendees and nearly $80,000 has been raised for scholarships for Albers students.


     Although raising money for student scholarships is the cause, the main reason for launching the event was friend-raising and getting alumni back to campus.  In 2002, our connections with our alumni were not where we wanted them to be and the alumni board came up with the idea of the crab feed.  Since the university did not have much in the way of alumni staff, in addition to coming up with the idea, the alumni board was required to EXECUTE the event, as well!  They stepped up to the plate and the rest is history!


    This year's alumni board Crab Feed Committee was chaired by Heather Hutson, and the committee worked closely with Rob Bourke on our staff to put the event together.  Several staff from the University Advancement Office also helped with the event, but the work of our alums was critical to its success.


     I had a number of people comment that they thought this year's silent auction was the best so far.  Unfortunately, I did not have time to peruse the items, as I was too busy talking to people.  And my wife managed to come away with only one item!  People also said it was the best crab we have ever served, but I hear that every year, which I take to mean we serve good crab every year!


    We try not to burden the crowd with long speeches from university administrators.  Fr. Sundborg was able to attend and he gave a well received and relatively short greeting to the crowd.  I, too, keep it short and just do some of the many "thank you's!" that need to be done.  Eddie Pasatiempo, a member of my advisory board, was there, and sent this picture courtesy of his iPhone:


    Crab Feed


    This year we had over 250 people in attendance, including women's basketball coach, Joan Bonvicini, fresh off the team's successful run through the Women's Basketball Invitation Tournament, making it to the semi-final round.  We also raised more than $10,000 for scholarships for Albers students!  That is a great cause, of course!




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/26/2012 08:59:35 AM

    Stoking the Common Fire is an event the Center for Leadership Formation puts on for alumni and students completing the Executive Leadership Program.  It took place last week and I was asked to give a talk at the dinner.  Inspired by my recent meeting with the Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, I drew upon his address, "The Globalization of Superficiality," which he delivered to Jesuit university presidents from around the world in 2010.  Here it is:

    When I started thinking about what to talk about tonight I looked at the schedule and I noticed that you have had at least half a dozen people speaking about leadership, so of course I realized there is no additional value I can add on that topic, so I can't talk to you about that.

    Then I thought about my visit to Omaha last weekend to take in the NCAA basketball tournament action taking place there, but then realized not everyone is a basketball fan, so that is probably not an appropriate topic either.  It was sunny and 83 degrees in Omaha by the way, so it was nice not to be in Seattle.

    So finally, I wondered if my visit to Rome the week before might provide some material.  I was at a board meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools, and one of the things we did was meet withFr. Adolfo Nicolás, who as the Superior General is the head of the Jesuits worldwide.  He leads the more than 18,000 Jesuits who work worldwide and is referred to as the "Black Pope."  Jesuits have historically dressed in black, the Pope in white.

    During our interaction, Father General emphasized the significant role that Jesuit Business Schools could play in today's world, especially in promoting business with conscience and business with responsibility.  In commenting on the programs offered at Jesuit Business Schools, he said that he was impressed with their energy to "change the face of business."  He noted that business without ethics leads to "disaster," and said that due to recent events the world is now more open than ever to an ethical approach to business.  He would like to see the Jesuit business schools lead the way in thinking about business in a different way, one that is more holistic and dedicated to the Common Good.

    Of course, what I liked was when he emphasizedthe important role of business schools at Jesuit universities, noting that business "has more attraction" to students than philosophy and theology.  That may come as a surprise ot our colleagues in the College of Arts and Science, since the presumption is always made that they are the preeminent feature of a Jesuit education!

    In 2010 Fr. Nicolas met with Jesuit university presidents from around the world in Mexico City, including Fr. Steve.  He delivered a talk called, "The Globalization of Superficiality."  Don't you love that title!  He could be a marketing and branding guru.  It is seen today as the most prominent articulation of his thinking on Jesuit higher education.  In celebrating our Jesuit roots, I thought it would be a good basis for my remarks tonight.

    This is what he means by the globalization of superficiality: "When one can access so much informa­tion so quickly and so painlessly; when one can express and publish to the world one's reactions so immediately and so unthinkingly in one's blogs …; when … the new­est viral video can be spread so quickly to people half a world away, shaping their perceptions and feelings, then the laborious, painstaking work of serious, critical thinking often gets short-circuited."

    "When one is overwhelmed with such a dizzying pluralism of choices and values and beliefs and visions of life, then one can so easily slip into the lazy superficiality of relativism or mere tolerance of others and their views, rather than engaging in the hard work of forming communities of dialogue in the search of truth and understanding. It is easier to do as one is told than to study, to pray, to risk, or to discern a choice."

    He goes on to say that this poses a significant challenge to Jesuit higher education because of its reliance on depth of thought and imagination.  Regarding the graduates of Jesuit universities, he says: "How many of those who leave our institutions do so with both professional competence and the experience of having, in some way during their time with us, a depth of engagement with reality that transforms them at their deepest core? What more do we need to do to ensure that we are not simply popu­lating the world with bright and skilled superficialities?"

    Now, as for the ELP, LEMBA, and HLEMBA, programs it is our intent and our hope that you gain both professional competence and when you finish you are different at the core!  From my observation, the programs that do that best in Albers are these programs.  I hope that has been your experience thus far.

    One point that Father Nicolas made to the university presidents is that he would like to see the 110 Jesuit universities around the world (28 in the US) working together and collaborating.  After all, one of the positives of globalization is greater ease of communication and travel.  He would like to see consortia of Jesuit universities focused on responding to global challenges.  He suggested several.

    One was "more adequate analyses and more effective and lasting solutions to the world's poverty, inequality, and other forms of injustice."  Now, that is an interesting one, and we might ask what would that mean for ELP, LEMBA, and HLEMBA.  Who has a suggestion or take on that?

    Well, we are doing great work with our social justice projects in collaborating with local partners.  Someday, we might be able to say this about global partners.

    As an example, a group of Albers faculty and undergraduates have been working in Africa on a project called "Africa Start Up."  The project was conceived and developed by one of our alums when she was an undergrad, and involves providing business training to low income small business owners with little formal schooling.  Originally, they were in Malawi working with the University of Malawi.  As conditions on the ground changed, they moved the project to Ghana and worked with Ashesi University.  Neither is Jesuit because the Jesuits have yet to establish business schools in Africa (but it is actually something they have identified that they wish to do and they are working on it).  It gives you an example of what could happen someday.

    Another issue that Father Nicolás raised is the following: "Globalization has created new inequalities between those who enjoy the power given to them by knowledge, and those who are exclud­ed from its benefits because they have no access to that knowledge. Thus, we need to ask: who benefits from the knowledge produced in our institutions and who does not? Who needs the knowledge we can share, and how can we share it more effec­tively with those for whom that knowledge can truly make a difference, especially the poor and excluded? We also need to ask some specific questions of faculty and students: How have they become voices for the voiceless, sources of human rights for those denied such rights, resources for protection of the environment, persons of solidarity for the poor?"

    So, if he were to ask this group of students to answer these questions, what would you tell him?  What would you point to about our program?  Or are we coming up short?

    There you have it.  Some of the thinking of the Black Pope, Father Nicolas, which has interesting connections to our celebration this evening.

    I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has completed the ELP.  We wish you the best and hope that this has been an experience of "change and transformation."  We also hope that you will stay connected with us, including participating in alumni events for the CLF and university.

    To those of you continuing on in the LEMBA or HLEMBA programs, I encourage you to persevere and keep your head up.  Despite what you may think from time to time, the faculty are not out to get you and have your back at all times.  Before you know it, it will be June, 2013 and you will be going across the stage at Key Arena.

    Finally, I want to thank all our faculty and staff who work in our programs.  It is evident to me that they are doing excellent work and represent the university well.  Give them a round of applause please.  



    Posted by Liz Wick on 3/20/2012 03:03:29 PM

    Last week I traveled to Rome for a board meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS). This was my first visit to Rome, and the meeting took place in the Jesuit Curia, which is very near the Vatican.  The Curia is a series of buildings containing offices, residences, and meeting rooms, something like a very crowded college campus (not a lot of open space).  Although not in the boundaries of Vatican City, it is considered part of the Vatican from a legal standpoint and not part of Italy.


    Most of the IAJBS board consists of business school deans from around the world.  In addition to board members from the US like me, board members came from Belgium, Spain, India, the Philippines, and Korea.


    The meetings took place the afternoon of March 8thand all day March 9th.  The highlight of the meeting was our visit with Superior General Adolfo Nicolas.  I was very impressed with the Father General.  He has a very deprecating sense of humor and seems very humble.  He was amused that everyone wanted a picture with him and maybe even puzzled by it.  The purpose of the meeting was to familiarize him with IAJBS and to learn how IAJBS could assist the work of the worldwide Jesuit order.  Here is a picture of me meeting the Father General:

    Picture with Father General


    The Father General emphasized the important role of business schools at Jesuit universities, noting that business 'has more attraction" than philosophy and theology.  He noted that business without ethics leads to "disaster," and said that due to recent events the world is now more open to an ethical approach to business.  He would like to see the Jesuit business schools lead the way in thinking about business in a different way, one that is more holistic and dedicated to the Common Good.


    The rest of the meeting was taken up with planning for the IAJBS conference in Barcelona in July, reviewing the finances of the organization, and discussing the relationship between IAJBS and Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE).  CJBE has historically been a US-centric organization, but the plan is to become an organization to serve business faculty at Jesuit schools around the world. 


    We also were updated on plans to establish Jesuit business schools in Africa.  Projects in Kenya, Rwanda/Burundi, Ivory Coast, the Congo, Burkina Faso, and a new one in Nigeria are all at different stages of planning.  The hope is that IAJBS schools in other parts of the world will assist with this initiative. It does not seem like much progress has been made in this effort, and at this point there is not an obvious way that the Albers School can assist.  We will continue to monitor how this develops and how we might contribute.


    Outside of the meeting, my wife and I were able to squeeze in some tourist activity since we arrived on Wednesday, March7th, and left Sunday, March 11th.  While the meeting ended on March 9th, it would have cost more than $600 more to fly home on Saturday, so I reluctantly stayed until Sunday!


    The afternoon of the 7th we toured the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica.  We moved quickly through the museum because there are rapid diminishing returns in viewing statues and medieval art, at least for me!  The Sistine Chapel is quite amazing, and therefore crowded!


    St. Peter's is also quite striking inside, and we walked the 320 steps to the top of the cupola for an excellent (but very crowded!) view of the city.


    On Thursday morning, before the meeting started at noon, we walked over to the Pantheon, and also saw San Ignatio Church, Trevi Fountain, and the Gregorian University, as directed by Fr. Sundborg (he earned three degrees there), as well as several churches containing paintings by Caravaggio (famous artist for those not knowing).  That evening, after having dinner near the Pantheon, we walked to the famous Spanish Steps to see what they looked like in the evening.


    Saturday we headed to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The interesting thing about Rome is it has so many antiquities that something really has to be stunning to get your attention. Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum have all sorts of Roman structures and statues but in the shadow of the Colosseum they just don't grab your attention.  Anywhere else and they would be the center of attention, but nothing compares to that 75,000-seat stadium, more seats than CenturyLink Field!


    There is one very important piece of advice I have for Rome, and that has to do with getting into the Colosseum.  Don't arrive without a ticket, or you will stand in a very long line!  If you don't have a ticket, go to the entrance of the Palatine Hill, which is just south of the Colosseum and buy a combo ticket. You can tour the hill and Roman Forum first, or buy the ticket and go to the Colosseum instead of going through the turnstiles at the Palatine Hill entrance. 


    We toured Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum first, then went to the Colosseum.  As we did, and figured out the long line was for people buying tickets and the line to the left was for ticketholders like us, it seemed as if there was something wrong and we were going to be sent back to get at the end of the long ticket line.  How could we be passing so many people??  But it is true.  If you have a ticket, stay to the left and get right in, passing a lot of people spending a long time in line.  So much for an economist assuming perfect information!


    After the Colosseum, we toured Capital Hill that boasts the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the nearby Galleria Doria Pamphilj Museum.  The latter is interesting because it is located in a large aristocratic opulent residence and has works by such well known artists as Titian, Caravaggio, and Raphael.


    Unfortunately, by the time we got out of the museum the Gesu Church was closed, and it was another place we were instructed to see by Fr. Steve, since it is the Jesuit Church and contains the remains of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  We returned later that evening on the way to dinner.


    To all these places we walked.   We never used a cab or public transit.  That is a great thing about Rome. You can do a lot of walking and most of the places you are interested in seeing you can walk to (assuming your hotel is somewhere in the area - ours was near the Vatican).  Of course, all this walking was facilitated by excellent weather.  The sun was out the whole time, and temperatures reached a high of 65F during the day and dipped down to about 40F at night.


    One problem I always have with Europe is Jet Lag!  In this four-day visit I never adjusted, and I don't think a longer trip would have been much better.  It is so much easier to go to meetings in Latin America where the time zone does not change much!


    As everyone knows, technology makes it a lot easier to travel to Europe and not fall behind on emails and continue to stay in touch.  What I really like now is being able to listen to my voice mail messages in Seattle on my iPhone in Rome!

    Leaving Rome early Sunday morning was interesting.  We got to the airport just before 4:00 AM for our 6:00 AM flight. Two hours ahead of time is a good rule of thumb for the airport in Rome according to the experts, but that does not factor in that our flight was the first out that morning!  How many flights are out of Seattle before 6:00 AM??  Things don't get going early in Italy, I guess.  We were literally the first people through security.  It was so weird, we were not sure we were in the right place or doing the right thing because there was no one in front of us!  The airport was completely empty in the walk to the gate and no stores were open, of course.  That has to be a once in a lifetime experience!


    Was this trip worth it?  Yes, I think so.  It's hard to hash out IAJBS issues when you are not face to face and how often have I met the Father General, any Father General, in my 30 years in Jesuit higher education?  Once is the answer! Plus, I got to see almost all of Rome that any tourist wants to see!

    Leadership Impact Day

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/5/2012 07:39:37 AM

    March 2nd was Leadership Impact Day for the Executive Leadership Program (ELP).  Students in the program do significant community service projects as part of the Leadership for a Just and Humane World course they take.  Working in teams, students join with community partners to correct a social injustice in a sustainable way.


    The projects are a distinctive part of the ELP and, in turn, the Leadership EMBA and the Health Leadership EMBA programs since students in those programs also participate in the ELP.  The projects have significant impact because our students use their considerable talents and influence to address the social injustice they take on.  The students typically have 15-20 years of work experience and significant managerial responsibility in their organizations. The groups also work with other organizations focusing on the same societal challenge, thereby leveraging their own efforts.


    I had the opportunity to attend the presentations for three of this year's six projects.


    "Computer Moms," designed by Aaron Posey, Mark Seidl, and Irene Sacristan Sanchez, joined with a community center to set up computer literacy classes for immigrant women who in some cases could not speak English.  Several of the women were able to attend the presentations, and their willingness to attend on a Friday morning shows their appreciation for the training!


    "Project Oasis," developed by Chris Jonsson, Gregory Kavounas, Tim Onders, Kumil Turczanski, and Tess Wilkins, also partnered with a community center, to provide access to affordable and healthy food.  They worked with a group of Hispanic women, and again some could not speak English, to provide information on healthy and affordable foods and to organize a buying group to stretch their purchasing power.  Several other partner organizations were mobilized, including some food industry firms.


    "E3: End Elderly Exploitation," was a project to raise awareness about the financial exploitation of the elderly, with a "Did You Hear About Margaret?" campaign.  It includes billboards, radio ads, brochures, and posters.  The group partnered with Crime Stoppers and a number of law enforcement agencies.  The group designing the program included Richard Arriola, Kim Baldwin, Jeff Hoevet, and Pete Segall.  One of the partner agencies was the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, and Sheriff Paul Pastor attended the presentation, along with Sgt. Ed Troyer.  They were excited about the opportunity to partner on the project, and reminded the audience that a previous ELP group had partnered with them on a project raising awareness around physical abuse of the elderly.


    In each case, our students identified an important societal challenge to address.  They designed a sound response to the problem, and identified organizations in the community to partner with.  The result was a sustainable solution.  That is the IMPACT in Leadership Impact Day!


    Jim Sinegal

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 3/2/2012 11:53:40 AM

    On March 1st, Seattle University announced that Jim Sinegal, co-founder and long time CEO at Costco Wholesale, will join the Albers School as Senior Executive in Residence.  The announcement was made by Fr. Steve Sundborg at an Albers Executive Speaker Series event where Jim was speaking.

    Joe, Jim Sinegal, Fr. Steve

    As Executive in Residence (EIR), Jim will have a profound effect on the education of our students.  He is one of the most admired executives in the world.  While he has reshaped retailing, his impact and reputation extend far beyond the retail sector.  The Costco way of doing business has valuable lessons for companies in all sectors.  As EIR, Jim will be a guest speaker in classes, speak to student clubs, provide seminars for faculty, mentor students, and maybe even teach a class!  There are many ways that he will be able to share his talents, insights, and wisdom with our students and faculty.  We are very excited to be able to work with him in this capacity!


    So, just what is some of that wisdom that Jim can share with Albers students?  We got a taste of that March 1st from his presentation, "Costco: The First Thirty Years."  When asked what advice he would give to young people just starting out in their career, he stressed the importance of hard work and perseverance.  Success never comes without it.  He also encouraged students to find something you truly love doing, that way you never feel like you are going to work!


    When asked about Wall Street analysts who criticize Costco for not raising prices and paying workers too much, he replied he did not want to complain, because Costco had high stock valuations, so obviously is not being punished by Wall Street.  He noted that analysts like to hear themselves talk and therefore have to have something to say, but he was never convinced they could run the business.


    He was asked why other companies did not perform as well at Costco.  At first, he said he didn't want to comment about other companies because he always had his hands full at Costco.  But upon reflection, he noted two things - many companies get caught in a trap of focusing on quarterly earnings and trying to please Wall Street  rather than managing for long term success, and second, many companies lose focus and try to do too many things at once.  He advised picking a few important initiatives and focusing on those.


    One student asked about Sarbanes-Oxley and the need to sign the quarterly financial statements.  Jim admitted that although he was an early critic of SOX, he believes that 90% of the legislation was beneficial.


    Jim is always asked about China, and this event was no exception.  He replied that Costco believes it has many opportunities in its existing footprint and it makes more sense to pursue those rather than launch into a new market.  He also opined that China is a very difficult place to do business, and that Costco has real concerns about the rule of law and other aspects of China that affect Costco's ability to be successful there.


    Jim was asked about the importance of culture in a business and how the current culture would be maintained at Costco now that he was no longer CEO. He replied that, "culture is not the most important thing, it is the only thing."  He said he was not concerned about being able to maintain the culture while current CEO Craig Jelinek is at the helm, since Craig has been at the company since the very early days.  After that, it may get more difficult, but it will be something for the company to pay attention to.


    Finally, Jim was asked what is most critical to the success of the company going forward.  He said that the managers of the Costco warehouses (aka "stores") will be most critical to the success of company.  Each of those individuals has a very important job, and how well they perform shapes the performance of the company.  Given Costco's "pro-employee" reputation, it is not surprising that Jim boils down the continuing success of Costco to its people!


    So, there you have it.  A taste of the wisdom Jim Sinegal will be offering to Albers students.  We are very grateful to him for his willingness to work with us as Senior EIR!  What a resource he will be!


    Dean Data

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 3/1/2012 09:51:57 AM

    Are you curious about the characteristics of business school deans??  AACSB International, our accrediting body, just released the results of its survey of deans.  The survey is based on 500 responses from deans around the world, 330 from the US. You might be interested to know what they found and how this dean stacks up.


    Seventy-two percent of those surveyed were in their first deanship - so am I.


    Only 18% of deans are women - I am not helping with that.


    Among those in their first deanship, 24% were associate deans prior to becoming a dean and 23% were department chairs - I was an associate dean.  In case you are curious, about 8% were in industry before joining academe as a dean - that does not happen often and it is frequently not successful (but I can think of some exceptions). 


    Among all deans, which would include those who were a dean somewhere else first, 19% arrived after serving as a dean elsewhere, 19% came after serving as associate deans, and 14% were previously a department chair.


    The average dean has served 4.6 years.  In case you are concerned that people like me pull up the average, the median is 3.3 years.  I am in my eleventh year, so people are starting to wonder about that.


    Sixty-three percent of deans were at the same institution prior to becoming dean.  Not me, I came to SU from Creighton.


    Management is the top disciplinary area for deans, with 14.2 % having their degrees in management.  Economics used to be the most common discipline for deans, but is now at 13.5%.  I am an economist.


    Among current deans, 33% were not actively looking to be a dean, but responded to an invitation to apply.  Twenty-five percent were actively looking and were either nominated or applied on their own.  I was not actively looking and Greg Prussia called me - so the rest is history and you can blame him! :}




    David Beckmann

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 2/29/2012 03:08:09 PM

    David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World, a member based organization advocating to "strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome hunger and poverty in this country and globally."  He spoke on February 28th as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series, with the theme, "Exodus from Hunger."  His talk was co-sponsored with the College of Arts and Science, School of Theology and Ministry, and Campus Ministry.


    In his opening remarks, Beckmann noted it was not typical for his talks to be sponsored by a business school, but SU is where he would expect it to happen! 


    One of the points Beckmann made was that when it comes to improving living standards, we are making progress globally.  He used an example of Bangladesh, where he worked 35 years ago and recently returned to visit.  In travelling to the remote village that he lived in, the improvements in the quality of life there were quite striking - ranging from the quality of housing stock, to flood control construction, to paved roads, to better nutrition, to cell phones.  The example shows that when measured over decades and not year to year, we really are making progress in fighting poverty.


    As for our own country, Beckmann said our progress against hunger and poverty basically stopped in 1974, and we have not moved the needle since.  He attributes this to simply not trying to address the issue.  The agenda of his organization is to restore the political will to address poverty in the US.


    In terms of advice for students, he noted that when you are young and have fewer commitments, you have more flexibility and should use that freedom to work on really important issues.  He also observed that it is a good time to take chances, and he observed that we are often too risk averse.


    Beckmann also said that students should not underestimate what advocacy can accomplish, and even small changes do add up and positively affect people.


    To illustrate that, he told the story of his adopted son, Andrew.  When Andrew turned 18 and looked up his birth mother, they learned she had been a struggling student and used the WIC program to insure she was adequately nourished during her pregnancy.  It was during those same years that Bread for the World was battling to protect the WIC program from cut backs, so the work of Bread for the World had a very palpable impact on Beckmann and his family.  He added that the birth mother became a member of Bread for the World shortly after being contacted by Andrew because she understood the importance of the WIC program and thus the importance of the work of Bread for the World.


    As a school offering a specialization in International Economic Development, it should not be surprising that we would want to host the President of Bread for the World.  Of course, when Beckmann describes himself as a "Lutheran Jesuit," there is all the more reason to have him visit campus!


    John Stanton

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/25/2012 03:41:08 PM

    On January 24th, John Stanton was the speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  John has a long and distinguished career in the wireless industry and has been part of the industry since its very beginnings.  He focused on the unintended consequences of government regulatory efforts in cellular.


    Three decades ago ATT was a monopolist in the telephone industry, and in an effort to create more competition, the federal government created eight successor regional phone companies.  On top of that, the government wanted to create the wireless industry and struggled with how to distribute operating rights. First, it attempted an application process trying to select the most qualified applicants, it then moved to a lottery, and finally an auction.  In each case there were challenges, and an end result was that it took over ten years to distribute the licenses.  This put our wireless sector well behind companies in other countries.


    Because the resulting distribution of companies lacked scale in an industry with huge capital needs, a wave of consolidation naturally followed.  This ultimately resulted in our current duopoly, with ATT and Verizon controlling 80% of the market and Sprint and T-Mobile struggling to stay in business.


    We have come full circle.  We started out in the US with a monopoly, and now have a duopoly.


    When you stop and think about it, the wireless industry is an amazing story.  At one point, John said there were six billion cell phones being used around the world.  Three decades ago the number was zero.  What an incredible expansion story of an industry!


    John's story was about how to navigate this unpredictable and volatile environment.  His three recommendations were:


    1. Work with a great group of people who are good at what they do and enjoy working with each other.
    2. Be agile in your decision making. You need to be able to react to changing circumstances.
    3. Never run out of cash!  Good advice for any start up business!


    John also acknowledged that along the way his businesses had been lucky.  They may have benefitted from the mistake of a competitor or just happened to be in the right place at the right time (such as one of the lotteries for cellular rights!).  Frankly, it was refreshing to hear John acknowledge the role of luck.  Too many successful people are not willing to do that.


    I am currently reading the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.  It is a good book, and one of the topics Kahneman takes up is the role of luck in success.  He notes that too few people are willing to acknowledge the role of luck in their success, so it is interesting to have John as an exception to the rule.  I have long held the view that luck is underappreciated, so I naturally am very receptive to this concept!  By the way, Susan Weihrich gave me this book to read.  Wonder what she intended for me to learn from the book?!


    John was asked about the value of mentoring in his career development.  He shared with the audience the most valuable advice he received from one of his mentors:


    1. Be slightly underpaid
    2. Be fiercely competent
    3. Be mobile, as in be willing to move to opportunities in new places and organizations.


    John's visit was another great opportunity for our students to hear from a very successful business leader.  He was a pioneer in shaping a new industry.  Those people are hard to find, and when you find one, you are really lucky! :}





    Academy of Finance

    Posted by Liz Wick on 1/17/2012 09:57:21 AM

    Last week we launched our eighth annual Academy of Finance course. Thirty students from Franklin, Ballard, Chief Sealth, and Ingraham High Schools will be coming to campus for eight weeks and be taking classes on various business subjects, including marketing, economics, and business communications. They also receive information on the college application process and financial aid.


    In presenting this program, we partner with the Seattle Public Schools and local chapter of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). NAF was founded in 1982 and works to prepare young people for college and career success by providing industry-focused curriculum to underserved students in four areas - Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, and Engineering. NAF's network has grown to 500 academies and serves more than 50,000 students across 41 states, D.C, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


    Students come to campus to take a class once a week. This forces them to navigate the campus (including parking!) and see for themselves what life on a college campus is like.


    They take classes from Albers faculty and do a final project that integrates the course work they have taken. This year, the classes are in Business Communications, Operations, Ethics, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Economics. If students fulfill all requirements for the course, they earn a college credit from Seattle U.


    Jessica Young is a student in our Master of Professional Accounting Program (MPAC) who works full-time at Boeing. Jessica is on the local NAF board, and was there to greet the students last week. Jessica noted that she participated in the first Academy of Finance program at SU back in 2005! As a result of the program, she really wanted to attend Albers, but ultimately chose to attend UW because of the cost. After graduating from UW with an accounting degree, she took a job with Boeing and is now a part-time student in our MPAC program. It is great to have Jessica back as a student at SU and to see her involvement with the Academy of Finance!


    We are pleased to be able to partner with the Seattle Public Schools and the local NAF organization to work with these students each year. We are very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their learning and inspire them to pursue business studies at the university level!


    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 1/3/2012 10:22:23 AM

    The start of 2012 is a good time to look back and recall the highlights of 2011.  All in all, it was another good year for the Albers School!


    First, our AACSB accreditation was extended for another five years.  Given the high expectations of AACSB, reaccreditation is never a routine "ticket punch!"


    We continued to do well in the rankings.  Our part-time MBA program was ranked 52nd by Business Week and 59th by US News and World Report.  Our Leadership EMBA was ranked 18th by US News, and our finance program 24th.  For the first time, our MBA program was ranked in the Grey Pinstripes Top 100.  Our undergraduate program was ranked 115th by US News, and our accounting and finance programs were in the US News Top 25.  Business Week ranked our undergraduate program 4th in sustainability and 7th in business ethics.


    We developed and launched our Health Leadership EMBA program, getting all the necessary approvals within a six month period and beginning to recruit in May for an August class.  Now that is aggressive!


    Our students showed they perform at a high level of accomplishment.  Our SIFE team finished ninth in the nation and our Beta Alpha Psi chapter was one of only seven in the nation to receive the Gold Chapter Award.  Our graduate students won the Pacific Northwest Case Competition and the Seattle Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Investment Research Challenge.  Our Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization students did a stellar job in organizing the second annual Red Winged Leadership Award, presented to Global Visionaries.


    Our faculty had an excellent year, as well.  Rex Toh received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and three faculty - Jot Yau, Carl Obermiller, and Greg Magnan - earned "Big Hit" recognition for their publications in top journals in their disciplines.  The scholarship of all our faculty was highlighted with our first Celebration of Scholarship event in February.  Of course, they are also continuing with their excellent work in the classroom!


    We launched the Center for Business Ethics in June, which is supported by an endowment created by the donations of a number of generous benefactors.  We also launched the PMI China Initiative, which will include a series of events exploring the economic integration of China and the US.


    The Albers Executive Speaker Series had another good year, featuring leaders such as Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco Wholesale, Kimberly Harris, CEO of Puget Sound Energy, and Tun Channareth, Nobel Peace Prize winner.


    On a personal level, contrary to popular belief, the launching of Dean Blog was not my top highlight of the year.  That would have to be the April 1st edition of Dean Spam! :}




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 12/22/2011 09:13:21 AM


    On November 1st I wrote about our AACSB accreditation, discussing the visit of the peer review team looking at extending our accreditation for another five years (“reaffirmation” is what AACSB calls it).


     This week we received the good news that the AACSB Board of Directors has approved the team’s recommendation that our accreditation be extended!  The extension of our accreditation reflects the excellent work our faculty and staff are doing to provide an outstanding education to our students!  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet AACSB’s high expectations, and it is our faculty and staff that get the work done!


    In the review, the visiting team gave Albers high marks in several areas:


    • We were commended for an effective strategic planning process that drives program innovation.
    • Our student advising programs were identified as doing excellent work in supporting student needs.
    • The Albers Placement Center was highlighted for its work in assisting students with career planning.
    • Our outreach to the business community through our advisory boards was highlighted, and in particular our engagement of boards in the strategic planning process and in faculty recruiting.
    • Our Mentor Program was spotlighted for the opportunities it provides to students.


    The report also encouraged us to continue our efforts to enhance and support the quality and impact of faculty scholarship and to seek ways to expand our financial resources.


    AACSB is the premier business accrediting body worldwide.  Currently, there are 643 accredited schools in 43 countries, and less than 5% of the world’s business schools are accredited.  AACSB is all about quality business education and continuous improvement.  Once you are accredited, you want to make sure you stay accredited!


    As I mentioned on November 1, re-accreditation is not automatic and requires our continuous attention.  It is not something you can pull together in the six months before the visit.  A visiting team will be back in Fall, 2016.  In the meantime, we will maintain our commitment to quality business education and continuous improvement!


    Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2012!


    Undergrad Leadership Program

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 12/6/2011 04:22:18 PM


    Last week, Susan Weihrich, Teresa Ling, and I met with students from our Undergraduate Leadership Program.  They invited us for breakfast, so of course we had to show up!  Sharon Lobel is the faculty member overseeing the program, and she was there as well.  [If you are not familiar with the program, go to:]


    This is an impressive group of students who have obviously benefitted from Sharon’s guidance.  They are going to significantly contribute to the Albers School over the next two or three years (they are sophomores and juniors).  Many of them are already taking on leadership roles in some of the student organizations in the Albers School, and they are looking for other ways to contribute to our “ecosystem.”


    One initiative they are launching is the Albers Leadership Club.  This will be a vehicle for them to continue contributing to the school.  One function of this club will be to encourage all club leaders to come together and share best practices while pursuing collaborative activities.  We all agree that our student organizations can have a greater impact and events will be more successful if the clubs collaborate with each other.


    In answer to their question about what more they could do for Albers, we challenged them with several areas, including “what should we be doing to recruit more freshmen to the Albers School?” and “how can we get more undergraduate students to attend the Albers Executive Speaker Series?”  Our speakers always do a great job and I am always disappointed with the low turnout of undergraduate students who can really benefit from attending!


    The students asked some great questions.  At one point they asked what leadership roles I had when I was an undergraduate student at LaSalle University back in the day.  Now that is an interesting question and one I had not thought about!  I was able to remember being President of the Economics Club and being the student representative at meetings of the Department of Economics.  


    But what really seemed to interest them was me being part of a start-up club called Gallery Associates.  Our role was to support the newly opened art gallery at the university, and I was able to tell them that it was only because of my art history teacher that I was inspired to get involved with this group!  After all, economists are left-brained people, right, and no one is more so than me, so how in the world did I end up in the art gallery??


    We reminded them that there are many opportunities for leadership, and they do not all flow from one’s rank or title.  One can lead by seeing something that needs to be addressed and taking the initiative to fix it.


    It was very inspiring for the three of us to spend time with this group of student leaders.  They are a talented and savvy bunch, and we look forward to seeing the contributions to the Albers School and SU that they will make during their time here, and the impact they will have on their profession and community after graduation!




    Contact Hours

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 12/4/2011 04:14:43 PM


    Contact Hours??  A blog about contact hours??  Why blog about contact hours, and what are they anyway?


    Contact hours are the time faculty is supposed to spend working with students in a course.  A contact hour is actually 50 minutes, not 60.  Our typical three credit graduate course, for example, is supposed to have thirty contact hours.  The typical five credit undergraduate class is supposed to have fifty contact hours.


    It turns out that with some frequency some of our graduate courses are getting shorted contact hours.  Every winter quarter it seems that some classes are meeting only nine times, meaning only 27 contact hours.  That's a 10% shortfall for the course!  In the eight week summer term, some of our graduate classes have closer to 26 contact hours.


    I am not sure how long this problem has been there, but we finally decided to do something about it.  Beginning with the Spring, 2012 quarter, we will start adding time to courses that would otherwise be shorted.  For example, a ten week class that meets only nine times and would normally run from 6:00 to 8:40 PM will now meet each evening from 6:00 to 8:55 PM.  The times will be on the schedule and students and faculty will know in advance and be able to plan accordingly.


    I really don’t know why we let this situation go on for so long.  Our graduate classes don’t have many contact hours to begin with, so missing them shortchanges students and makes it impossible for faculty to cover the material they planned to cover.


    It is an example of getting used to something that we should have recognized as being incompatible with academic excellence.  I think the lesson is, “Be Vigilant!”  Big or small, there are lots of things out there that we can change for the better!




    Recognizing Faculty

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 12/4/2011 03:45:07 PM


    On December 2nd we installed three faculty as endowed chairs and professors.  Saluting these faculty in this way allows us to recognize their excellent work in the Albers School.


    Carl Obermiller was installed as the third holder of the George Albers Professorship of Business.  Carl teaches courses in marketing and social issues, marketing metrics, and new product development.  He has been a driving force behind our sustainability specialization in the MBA program and now serves as co-chair of SU’s Sustainability Committee.  He has produced high quality scholarship, publishing in such highly regarded journals as the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Consumer Behavior, the Journal of Business Research, and the Journal of Advertising.  At the ceremony, Carl commented that his latest research was on “Do consumers really listen to marketers?”  Great question!


    The Albers family was a generous supporter of SU and the Albers School, and to honor that support our school was named the Albers School in the early 1970’s.  In 2001, we received a generous endowment from the estate of Genevieve Albers which supports the Albers Professorships (and other activities in the school).  George Albers was Genevieve’s father and a successful business man who established a successful food processing business that was sold to Carnation, which was then bought by Nestlé.  The Albers brand is still used today by Nestlé for corn meal and grits!


    Chips Chipalkatti was installed as the fourteenth holder of the Robert D. O’Brien Endowed Chair in Business.  Chips teaches in the areas of financial accounting and accounting for intangible assets.  He has been instrumental in the development of our business valuation program.  Chips has been a very successful scholar, with publications in the Journal of Accounting Research, Journal of International AccountingResearch, the CPA Journal and the International Journal of Financial Services Management.  In his remarks, Chips noted he is busy organizing a business valuation conference in Seattle in late February.


    Robert O’Brien served on SU’s Board of Regents from 1963 to 1971 and then was a founding member of the SU Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1999.  He is given major credit for helping SU through the financial difficulties it experienced in the 1970’s.  He had a lengthy career at Kenworth Motor Truck from 1943 to 1958 and then PACCAR beginning in 1958, retiring as Chairman in 1978.


    Jot Yau was installed as the second holder of the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance.  The chair was established with a generous donation from Gary Brinson to honor Dr. Dibee, who was a teacher and mentor to Brinson while he was a student at SU.  Brinson went on to a legendary career in the investment industry, but never forgot the support he received from Dr. Dibee.


    Jot teaches primarily in the areas of investments, portfolio management, and hedge funds.  He has guided many students to pursue a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.  Jot has been a dedicated scholar, publishing in journals such as the Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Futures Markets, Financial Analysts Journal, and the Journal of Alternative Investments.  He has also published two books, including one on socially responsible investing.  In this remarks, Jot noted that one thing he wanted to accomplish as the endowed chair was to strengthen our ties with Seattle’s finance community.


    Khalil Dibee retired from our faculty in 1994 after nearly 30 years of teaching at SU.  He was known for his rigorous classes and commitment to academic excellence. Jot Yau, Chips Chipalkatti, and Carl Obermiller are carrying on that legacy of academic rigor and commitment to excellence!  We are blessed to have them as colleagues!


    Tod Nielsen

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/4/2011 01:17:25 PM


    On November 3rd, Tod Nielsen, Applications Platform co-President at VMware, spoke at the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  Tod has more than 20 years of experience in the software industry, including previous positions at Oracle, Borland Software, Microsoft, and BEA Systems.  He had plenty of good advice and insight to share with our students.  Tod is also the brother of Melore Nielsen, SU’s Dean of Admissions.


    Tod made a presentation on lessons he has learned over the course of his career and framed them as Five Pillars.  The first pillar is the importance of “Milestones.”  Everyone can look back and see certain critical moments or decisions along the path that one takes.  It is also important to look forward, to think about where you want to be in five years, and what the things are that must happen to get there.  The five year plan may not materialize, but it is important to have one.


    The second pillar is “Diversity.”  Tod emphasized the importance of having a diversity of experiences early in your career that you can build on later in your career.  He encouraged students to make lateral moves in the organization in order to build that experience, something people often resist.  He also noted the benefit of working in a dysfunctional organization or for an ineffective leader.  That way you learn what does not work!


    The third pillar is the “Mentor.”  He stressed the importance of finding mentors over the course of one’s career.  Their advice will frequently be very valuable.  It is also important to find a mentor who does not think like you and can offer a different perspective.


    “Customers” are the fourth pillar.  You need to remember that the product is for the customer, so make sure to find out what they want and need.  Tod also emphasized the need to talk to a diverse set of customers, and not extrapolate from a narrow group to a broader audience.


    The final pillar is to “Give Back.”  He stressed the need to leave the world a better place than you found it.  This needs to include your time, talent, and treasure, but especially your time and talent.


    In the Q&A, Tod gave a number of important insights on the current and future state of the technology industry.  He also said the following:


    What is the most important characteristic of a leader?  The ability to listen to others.  Too few leaders do it, and most of the time the people in the organization know what is going wrong and how to fix it.


    What is the most important thing you look for in hiring a manager?  It’s passion for what a person does.  Domain expertise is overrated.


    What keeps you up at night about VMware?  The pace of innovation – is the company too far ahead of customers and the market?


    All in all, it was a fun and interesting evening.  Tod’s talk will be available via podcast.  Check at


    The next speaker series event is on January 24th, when John Stanton visits.  Stanton is a highly regarded leader in the wireless industry.





    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 11/1/2011 01:54:40 PM


    AACSB International is the premier accrediting body for business schools.  Albers is one of 637 schools worldwide (41 countries) with AACSB accreditation, which amounts to less than 5% of the world’s business schools.  For more information on AACSB, you can go to


    Every five years, schools go through a process of reaffirming their accreditation.  This is our year for reaffirmation.


    Back in the summer we submitted a report on our programs and operations.  That report was reviewed by a peer review team consisting of three current or former deans.  Our team consists of Dean Ali Malekzadeh, from Kansas State, Dr. Rich Flaherty, former dean at UNLV, and Dr. Abol Jalilvand, former dean at Loyola of Chicago.  This is a very experienced and respected team.  If we can meet their expectations, we can meet any team’s expectations!


    After reviewing our report and asking for additional information, the peer review team visited our campus October 30 to November 1.  They met with advisory board members on Sunday, October 30th.  Throughout the day on Monday, October 31st, they met with Albers faculty, staff, and students while also reviewing files and documents.  Near the end of the day they began to draft their report.  Tuesday morning, November 1st, they delivered their report and recommendation to President Sundborg and Provost Crawford.


    The team report makes a recommendation on whether our accreditation should be extended for another five years.  That recommendation will go to the AACSB Maintenance of Accreditation Committee (MAC).  The MAC will meet in December and decide to accept the report or send it back to the peer review team for further consideration.  If all goes well, the MAC accepts a recommendation to affirm accreditation and that gets forwarded to the AACSB Board of Directors for their approval shortly thereafter.  Reaffirmation is then formally announced at the AACSB annual meeting in April.


    Reaffirmation is not a fete accompli.  About 30% of schools going up for reaffirmation are placed on continuing review, which means that reaffirmation is postponed for a year or two while they work to address areas where they may not be meeting AACSB expectations.  For example, problems frequently occur with the Assurance of Learning (aka “assessment”) system or with faculty qualifications, such as when schools do not have enough research active faculty.


    I think we put together a solid report, and did so within the mere 50 pages that AACSB allows.  Of course, there is no limit to the number of appendices you can submit, so that ran 218 pages! :} Kudos go to Susan Weihrich and her two graduate assistants, Maria Klink and Zoey Wu, for producing our report.


    From what I have heard, our faculty and staff did a great job of preparing themselves to meet with the team.  I was not a part of the meetings – don’t want the dean in there influencing people’s answers – but several people said, “You would have been really proud of how we answered the team’s questions!”  That was great to hear and I am sure it will be reflected in our report.


    So far, so good, but check back later when the process is further along.



    Global Action Day

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/26/2011 09:30:09 AM

    November 1st has been proclaimed Global Action Day by Seattle mayor Mike McGinn.  It is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of our state’s global development sector and work for more collaboration and increased impact worldwide.   The local organizations involved in global development include Global Washington, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Partnerships, and the Initiative for Global Development.  You can learn more about Global Action Day at: 


    Way back in the day, global development (called economic development back then) was my field of research in graduate school and my dissertation was in the field – “The Demand for Labor on Small Farms in Less Developed Countries: Implications for Employment Generation.”  You can tell how old that is – Less Developed Countries is not a term we use anymore!  Emerging Nations is the proper term these days.  When I was on the faculty at Creighton, each year I would teach the International Economic Development course to undergraduate students.


    Now, of course, I am not doing research and teaching in global development, but we have three economists on our faculty who are -- Meena Rishi, Quan Le, and Claus Pörtner.  This is a significant commitment on the part of the Albers School to this important sector.


    More importantly, we are offering the International Economic Development (IED) specialization and minor to undergraduate students.  These programs allow students to take specialized coursework in the area, and students also must combine that with a complementary experience – study abroad in an emerging nation or an internship with an NGO doing development work.


    Fortunately, our IED program can draw upon the global development sector here in Seattle.  Although we would prefer IED students to go abroad, when that is not possible there is a long list of local organizations they can work with.  We are very fortunate in that regard, as there are few metro areas in the nation that offer a global development sector to draw upon.


    It is easy to see how the IED is at the heart of the SU mission.  If we are truly to be “leaders for a just and humane world,” a key concern must be how to raise the standard of living for so many of the world’s people.  If we are concerned about global education, the issue of global development has to be one of the greatest challenges to address.  Today, we have 15 economics majors specializing in IED and 9 IED minors.  It is great to see so many SU students inspired to engage so deeply with the global development challenge.




    Why Graduate School?

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/22/2011 11:44:40 AM


    The College Success Foundation (CSF) helps low income and underserved students to graduate from college and succeed in life.  The foundation does great work, and many SU students and alumni have benefitted from their assistance.


    On October 22nd CSF hosted its students and alumni on the SU campus to explore attending graduate and professional school.  CSF asked me to talk to students about why they should consider going on for that next degree.  Here are some of the things I told them:


    The first thing to know is that graduate or professional school is going to be a lot of work and it will be more focused than a traditional undergraduate degree.  Therefore, it is important to have a passion for what you choose to study. 


    One of the negatives about attending graduate school is the opportunity cost involved.  Namely, while you are going to school, you are not in the workforce earning income.  Of course, there are many programs designed for people to go to school and work full time at the same time, what we call part time programs.  For example, virtually all of the graduate programs at Seattle University are programs that work that way. 


    Of course, there is a price to pay with these programs in terms of not having as much time for family and recreation for the two or three or four years of your study.  Yet many, many students have successfully navigated that path and feel they made the right decision.



    Most people know how an undergraduate degree boosts employment prospects as well as income.  So for example, in 2010 the unemployment rate for people with a high school diploma averaged 10.3% compared to 5.4% for people with bachelor’s degrees.  Median weekly earnings for people with a bachelor’s degree was over $1000 in 2010, compared to a bit over $600 for high school graduates. 


    The situation for people with master’s and professional degrees is striking.  People with a master’s degree, any master’s degree, had an unemployment rate of 4% in 2010.  Those with professional degrees had an unemployment rate of 2.4%, and those with doctoral degrees had an unemployment rate of 1.9%. 


    There is a similar impact on earnings.  Those with doctoral and professional degrees had weekly earnings 50 and 60% higher than those with bachelor’s degrees, respectively.  Master’s degree holders earned about 25% more.


    Another way to look at this is to look at estimates of life time earnings from the US Census Bureau.  Depending on your race and gender, the increase in life time earnings of a master’s degree over a bachelor’s degree ranges from 16 to 34%.  For a professional degree from 37 to 67% , and for a Doctoral degree between 30% to 55%.


    Let’s look at the numbers for Hispanic males – high school lifetime earnings are about $1.31 million, undergrad degree $2.1 million, master’s degree $2.8 million, and professional and doctoral degrees $3.1 million.


    Money is not everything, so why else would you go on to get a higher degree?  Researchers have suggested that it not money that really motivates people to do good work and be successful and enjoy going to work every day.  People need a certain amount of income to live on and don’t want to feel taken advantage of.  They do want to be paid for what they do, but that is not the real source of their satisfaction.


    Daniel Pink has summarized the research into three things -- autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  Autonomy means that we have control over our lives and our situation.  You don’t want someone telling you want to do all the time.  You want to be able to use your own good judgment.  One would think that the more education you have, the easier it is to find a situation where you have autonomy, and that the organization where you work is going to trust you to do your job well.


    Mastery means you want to be good at what you do.  Well, doesn’t a graduate degree contribute to that??  Whatever it is you are passionate about, presumably more education makes you better at it and improves your skill set.


    The final aspect is purpose, which means that you feel like you are doing really important work and the organization that you represent is involved in an important mission.  I don’t think you need a graduate degree to achieve purpose, but it may make it easier to find because your education helps you find out about you.  In other words, your graduate education allows you to find what your passion is, what is important to you, and what your core values are.  This enables you to go out and find a situation where there is alignment with your values and passions.


    A graduate degree can impact these three important non-monetary factors, not just your earnings power.  These are compelling reasons to be thinking about that next degree!





    René Ancinas

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/21/2011 05:53:22 PM


    The Albers Executive Speaker Series kicked off for the year with René Ancinas, President and CEO of Port Blakely Companies, visiting on October 19th.  Port Blakely Companies is a fourth-generation family-owned business with forestry and real estate interests in the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand. Many of those who attended found René to be one of the best if not the best speaker they have listened to in the series.  That is saying a lot, because just about every major business leader in Seattle has participated in the series!


    René talked about his background as a musician has influenced his approach to music.  He said some of his best role models for leadership have been musical conductors.  “Everybody leads from the seat they are in,” said René. The person in front cannot tell everyone what they should be doing.  The successful conductor gets them to lead themselves.  This is the model that René uses in his own leadership.


    René suggested there are five key principles to leadership:


    1. Walk the walk.  You will not be successful if you say one thing and do another and do not lead by example.
    2. Take a servant leadership approach.  It is not about you, it is about the success of organization.
    3. Know your weaknesses.  Don’t try to be someone you are not.  Find people who are strong in ways you are not.
    4. Build a good team. Or, maybe he meant to say build a good orchestra! :}
    5. Develop and inspire people.  That is definitely the conductor model!


    René noted that as a leader, he is more concerned with selecting people for the team based on their values alignment and what they bring as a person in terms of their beliefs and self-awareness.  Skill requirements serve as a filter for finding people, but skills are not the critical factor.


    Finally, René used Prezi to do his presentation, a cloud based presentation software.  The audience loved it and I think he has inspired some new adopters!


    The next speaker is Tod Nielsen, co-President at VMWare, on November 3rd.  You need to be there!





    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/12/2011 08:28:40 AM


    The Western Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (WACSB) annual meeting was in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho October 9 to 11th.  Forty-five AACSB accredited schools from the western US were in attendance, with schools from Arizona to Alaska and Montana to Hawaii represented.  These meetings are always very valuable for networking with deans from other business schools in the region.  Some deans find this to be the most valuable meeting that they attend.

    I had never been to Coeur D’Alene except to drive through on I-90.  I recommend getting off the highway!  Coeur D’Alene is a pleasant, manageable town with a great, big lake and plenty of scenery. Our meeting was at the Coeur D’Alene Resort, which is right on the lake.

    Idaho, Idaho State, and Boise State were the host schools and they did a nice job or organizing the conference.  Unfortunately, they did not get much cooperation from Mother Nature, as it was cloudy and rainy most of the time.

    These meetings always feature presentations and panel discussion on emerging issues for business schools.  The problem that frequently happens is that the program is not designed to appeal to the wide variety of schools in the audience.  For example, this meeting ranged between Research I schools such as Arizona and Oregon, to small privates such as California Lutheran and PLU, to medium sized publics such as Cal-Northridge and Eastern Washington.

    One panel featured a discussion on commercialization of technology.   Unfortunately, it was addressed from the perspective of very large public schools, so it had almost no relevance for most schools in the audience, including SU.  The discussion would have been much more meaningful if the panelists represented the variety of schools in attendance.

    Another panel discussion focused on financial strategies to address current budget problems.  While the panel was more representative, no private schools were in the group.  Granted, public institutions face more stress than privates, normally, but everyone is dealing with budget pressures.

    A final panel focused on how schools support faculty research.  It did have a private school in the mix, but the schools were on the large size.  A more representative mix could have been developed for this discussion. 

    One of the questions that came up in this final session was how to measure the quality and impact of faculty research.  It is an issue we are currently wrestling with in the Albers School.  There are no easy answers and I didn’t come across any at this session that could be used by Albers, even though I explicitly asked the panel and audience to share what they were doing.  The Research I schools have addressed this issue by coming up with a limited list of journals for their faculty to publish in.  The rest of us are not interested in that approach. 

    In our case, we are now looking at classifying journals into four classes, but ideally we would come up with something which factors in other considerations.  The quality of a journal is not always easy to identify, and just because an article gets published does not mean it has impact or influence on practice or the discipline.  The ideal system would be multifaceted, but no one seems to know what that would actually look like.

    What I did learn from this panel is that Albers does a reasonably good job of supporting faculty research, at least when compared to the four schools presenting.  Well, one was a Ph.D. granting school, so we don’t provide that level of support, but we don’t tell faculty there are only four journals they should publish in, either.

    The final session was devoted to Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society for AACSB accredited schools.  Once again, Seattle University was recognized as a premier school by BGS.  This is a credit to Fred DeKay, who serves as faculty advisor for BGS and managed to pull this off while on a leave of absence!  Way to go Fred!

    Next year’s WASCB meeting will be at Lake Tahoe.  I am planning accordingly!




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/5/2011 08:13:41 AM


    Earlier this week a peer review team from NCAA visited campus to follow up on the self-study we submitted in April.  Both the self-study and the visit are important steps in our four year process to return to Division I athletics.  2011-12 is our fourth year.  If all goes well, we will be a Division I school in 2012-13.

    The self-study was a large and complicated project.  It involved over 60 people from campus working on three sub-committees and a steering committee providing overall direction.  It included students, faculty, staff, and others.  It was a big group, but we intentionally made it a big group because we wanted broad campus participation.  For example, we purposely included student athletes as well as students who are not athletes.

    The self-study resulted in a number of improvements being made within the Department of Athletics, but also improvements that impact the entire campus.  In that sense, the process was very helpful and I think the participants feel good about that.

    As it now stands, all Division I schools must undergo the self-study process every ten years.  The self-study that we did is the same self-study that long standing Division I schools.  The difference for us was it was our first time through, and something every reclassifying school does in the third year of the four year process.

    The NCAA has told us that we are one of the last schools to go through the process as it now exists.  They are studying how to change the certification process to make it more streamlined and less burdensome.

    Having been through accreditation processes for AACSB (the business school accrediting body) and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (the accrediting body for the university), I expected a thorough and burdensome accreditation process!  I wasn’t disappointed but I was not troubled by it either.  It was a good exercise for the university.  We were able to identify areas of strength and aspects of what we do that need improvement. 

    Nevertheless, NCAA seems to be almost apologizing for the process and vowing to do better.  Well, that will be beneficial to whoever is involved in the next review cycle.  One thing that is clear is that the next review will not be another ten years from now, as the self-study cycle will become more frequent, perhaps requiring something every year!

    In developing our self-study, we received great support from our NCAA liaison, Mira Colman.  Most striking about Mira was her responsiveness.  It was like she was sitting by the computer (or holding her Blackberry) waiting for our email so she could respond!  She couldn’t have been more supportive of us!

    The sub-committees received exceptional support from Eric Guerra and Lauren Rochholz in Athletics.  They took care of all the details throughout the process, whether it was scheduling meeting rooms or posting our report material to the NCAA website.  They may have a different take than me on the burdens of the self-study process, though! :}

    In a week or so we will receive the peer review team report and be able to respond to any issues by mid-December.  In February, the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification will meet to review our self-study and the peer review report and make a decision on our readiness to move to D1.  If all goes well, we will be a D1 school in July, 2012.

    So far, so good!




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 10/2/2011 03:48:48 PM


    This past weekend I attended the inaugural of Fr. Tim Lannon, SJ as the 24th President of Creighton University.  When a President is inaugurated at a Jesuit university, the other Jesuit schools are asked to send a representative.  I was on the Creighton faculty for 19 years before coming to Seattle U., so I, along with Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, represented SU at the installation.

    I first got to know Fr. Lannon when I was on the Creighton faculty and he was President of Creighton Prep High School.  We were both asked to serve on a Supervisory Committee for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.  It seems the fraternity had engaged in some inappropriate activity and was on the verge of being booted off campus.  The only way they could remain was under the direction of a supervisory committee consisting of Phi Psi alumni and faculty.  Yes, that means Fr. Lannon, the first alum to serve as President of Creighton, was a fraternity brother when he was a student.  (And I had to be inducted into the fraternity so I could serve as a faculty advisor!)

    There is no doubt in my mind that Fr. Lannon will be a great President for Creighton.  He has a great way with people and was an inspiring leader at Creighton Prep and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he was before returning to Creighton.

    Returning to campus, I was able to see the tremendous improvements that have taken place with the campus infrastructure.  The campus footprint is much larger than when I left, and many buildings have been added during the presidency of Fr. John Schlegel, SJ.  While this is very impressive, it is not the campus facilities that make Creighton an outstanding academic institution.  Returning to campus after being gone for ten years, I was able to visit with a number of my former colleagues. It was a reminder of the many wonderful faculty and staff at Creighton.  They are good at what they do and dedicated to the university and its students (just like the faculty and staff at SU).  I dare not name names because I will leave someone out, but it is really the people that make Creighton a great institution!  And I know they will thrive under Fr. Lannon’s leadership!

    The trip back was an opportunity to remind myself about the great network of 28 Jesuit universities in the US and the quality of education they deliver.  Seattle University is not alone in its mission and its success!  It is also a reminder that great leadership (Fr. Lannon at CU or Fr. Sundborg at SU) and great facilities (the new library at SU or the Harper Center at CU) are important for the success of a university, but not as important as the competence and dedication of the faculty and staff.




    Summer is Over!

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 9/19/2011 12:42:48 PM


    The academic year is starting this week and campus is getting busier and busier with the approach of fall classes.  [It is true that law students and EMBA students have been in class for several weeks, but they don't fill the campus up!]  On September 15th we had the Albers Convocation, a beginning of the year meeting for Albers faculty and staff.

    On September 20th we host a welcome event for our new undergraduate business students, both freshmen and transfers.

    At the Convocation, we emphasized that there are four important things we need to accomplish this year:

    1. Earn reaffirmation of our AACSB accreditation.  AACSB is the top business education accrediting body in the world.  There are 633 schools worldwide with accreditation.  Accredited schools are reviewed every five years to assure they are delivering a quality business education.  A peer review team will visit us in late October.  We sent them our self-study report in late August, which we know they are pouring over now.

    2. Revamp our MBA curriculum.  A team of faculty and staff started working on this last year.  They have come up with some interesting changes and are getting closer to making their initial proposal to the faculty.

    3. Revise our undergraduate business core curriculum.  Now that the university has revised the university undergraduate core, it is time for us to look at the business core.  A task force of faculty began work in the spring.  Thus far they have looked at what other programs do and the trends in business undergraduate education.  Now they must get busy formulating a proposal.

    4. Establish a system to measure the quality and impact of faculty scholarship.  This is a difficult topic for faculty.  In our current system of annual evaluation and rank and tenure, we are not doing enough to assess the quality of faculty research.  We need to establish a system that is fair and provides faculty with the right incentives and support.

    A blogging expert told me there should be pictures posted on my blog.  I am not sure what pictures I have that are appropriate for these topics.  But, if we recognize that the start of the school year means summer is over (way too short one more time!), and it is a great time to look back and remember the highlights.  For me, that would be the trip to Peru and Machu Picchu in July and a vacation trip to Lake Tahoe the week before Labor Day.  So, here is a picture of Machu Picchu: 

    Machu Picchu 

     And here is one from the Lake Tahoe trip. Just finished climbing Mt. Tallac, which is in the background:

      Lake Tahoe 


    Summer is over!  Have a great school year! 


    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/24/2011 09:42:34 PM


    On August 8th we held the ninth annual Albers Alumni Golf Tournament at the Glendale Country Club in Bellevue.  This event has always been important for bringing Albers supporters together and any money raised is used to support scholarships for Albers students.  This year the tournament was particularly successful because we had 130 golfers, a great location, and great weather!

    There is a lot of work by volunteers on this event.  This year the leaders were Dave Anastasi from my advisory board and Tony Goodwillie and Scott Warren from our alumni board.  Rob Bourke, our staff member who handles alumni affairs, also puts in a lot of work on the tournament.  The event was developed and championed by our alumni board and we are very grateful for their support across the nine years of the tournament!  And thanks to all the volunteers who assisted with the event this year!  It really takes a lot of work to do one of these!

    It’s not uncommon for the tournament to be my one and only outing on the golf course during a year.  This year it was my first time out, but I do have another tournament on the schedule next month.  I don’t mind playing golf, but it is a very time consuming sport – it takes a long time to play a round of golf – and so does not work for me.

    I am definitely a fair weather golfer.  I don’t like to be playing in the rain, and we have had a few years when it was raining.  Given the nature of my golf game, what is the point of being out there if the weather is not nice?

    For me, golf is very much a team game.  I only do scrambles, which our tournament is, and that should tell you something about the consistency of my golf game!

    This year people were really excited about the Glendale Country Club location, and I agree with them.  What was most appealing to me is that it does not have narrow fairways, frequently you can get to the green via several different fairways, and there are very few houses within reach of my ball.

    One year one of my partners wanted to know why I was not using a driver off the tee.  I replied that I was using my driver, but apparently it is so “old school” and small compared to the mega-drivers of today, that it looks like a five wood.  He had the perfect solution, he replied, and sent me an extra driver that he had – a Sasquatch Diamana S-65.  It is exactly as it sounds – big!!  And it does make a difference.  My drives, whenever it is a half decent shot, definitely go a lot further and I do not have near as much difficulty coming up with the requisite two drives that every team member is expected to contribute in a scramble.

    Frequently people ask me how my team faired in the tournament.  I must explain to them that it is not good form for the dean to win the tournament, so I take all the necessary precautions to make sure that does not happen.  My golf game is usually sufficient to keep us out of the running, but if I need to, I am not above inviting other weak golfers to join my team.  One year my team finished fourth and we were dangerously close to winning the third place prize.  I’ve been much more careful ever since!


    The Economy

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 8/10/2011 11:38:19 AM


    On August 8th I made a presentation here in Seattle to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Economics and Investment Conference, attended by credit union board members and CEOs from around the country.  The theme was, “Where Do We Stand Now? An Overview of the Current Economic Climate.”  Here are some of the things I said:

    • First, Seattle is a great place to have a conference this time of year!  No heat, humidity, or mosquitoes!
    • The “Great Recession” that lasted from December, 2007 to June, 2009 was the deepest and longest since the Great Depression. 
    • It has also been the weakest recovery.  Over two years later, we have restored less than 25% of the jobs lost and output has still not recovered to its pre-recession level.
    • Looking at the components of output – consumption, investment, government expenditures, and net exports – it is investment spending that has not recovered.  But it is not business investment in machinery and equipment, it is business and residential construction that continue to lag.
    • The Fed moved aggressively to address the stress in financial markets and the economic slowdown.  The Fed is out of bullets.  It has done everything it can do.
    • The Fed has moved so aggressively that there is a risk of inflation.  I admit to having a hard time figuring out exactly what that risk is.
    • The federal government moved modestly to stimulate the economy.  Much of the deficit has to do with fighting two wars (without raising taxes for them), tax cuts, and the cyclical impact on the budget, not specific steps to enlarge the government sector.
    • The current discussions on the budget deficit are not well informed because they fail to differentiate between cyclical and structural deficits.  We need to focus on the latter, and that is best addressed by medium to longer term cuts in spending (especially entitlement spending), not short term cuts that make it more difficult to put the recession behind us.
    • There are a number of factors weighing down the recovery – the housing market, Federal budget uncertainty, energy prices (although that could be changing), government downsizing, weak income and job growth, consumer deleveraging, and struggles in Europe.
    • There are few sources of strength – exports (especially to Asia), business ready to invest when they are convinced that consumers will be there, low interest rates, and maybe energy prices are starting to drop.
    • That all adds up to continued modest growth of 2-3%, not good for an economic recovery.  I don’t see the double-dip that other people see.  When a recession is caused by a financial crisis that impacts lower and middle income households, history shows a long, slow recovery.
    • If Standard and Poors wants to downgrade Treasury debt, that is fine, but that means they need to do some other downgrading, like for France.  Treasuries are definitely lower risk than OATs!


    The Purpose of Business

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/9/2011 11:04:47 AM


    Fordham University recently hosted a meeting of academics and business people here in Seattle.  As part of the event, they convened a panel of five business school deans to give their perspectives on the Purpose of Business.  Here are some exerts of what I said in the discussion:


    “The purpose of business is to meet human needs, in two ways.  First, provide goods and services to customers and, two, to provide employment and opportunity to those involved in the enterprise. 


    The first includes basic needs that take the form of goods and services, but also less urgent goods and services that contribute to an improved standard of living.  The products produced by business contribute to the common good by meeting basic needs as well as less critical needs.


    Regarding the second purpose, employment is important.  It provides income to meet basic needs, but not just that.  Employment is also a way that people define themselves and find meaning and fulfillment and feel good about themselves.  In brief, it provides human dignity.


    The business also needs to be sustainable, which influences how it does business.  The focus is on long term customer relationships, not a quick turn.  The environment cannot be excessively exploited in the process of producing goods and services, since that is not sustainable.  To be sustainable, the business also needs to operate profitability, so that it provides incentives for capital, but profitability, particularly when measured in the short term, is not the sole purpose of the business.


    Think of examples of successful businesses that you know of – Costco, Boeing, Paccar, Amazon, or Facebook.  Is it profitability that gives owners and employees pride and excitement? Or is it meeting customer needs and what they produce and do that turns them on?  Looked at another way, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, and Weyerhaeuser are making money now but do not seem to get any credit for it., LinkedIn, and Shutterfly don’t make much money, but are widely admired.  It has to be some combination of both profits and mission that gets people excited about what they do….


    One reason that business should be about meeting human needs and contributing to the common good is that society creates an environment that allows a business to operate.  Without that supportive environment, a business could not be successful.  I have in mind such things as property rights, enforcing contracts, educating and training the workforce, overseeing a monetary system and well functioning financial markets, maintaining law and order, and providing infrastructure like highways and ports that support commerce.  Businesses get a “license to operate” so to speak in this supportive environment.


    I would suggest that much of my thinking on this issue is influenced by Catholic Social Thought, and I am not saying that to please our Catholic university host, Fordham University.


    A major tenant of CST is the “dignity of the human person,” and how work contributes to human dignity.  Thus, a business that “does not enhance its workers and serve the common good is a moral failure,” no matter how profitable.  It was Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor), the first Papal encyclical in CST tradition issued in 1891, that first raised questions about the treatment of employees.  Subsequent encyclicals have gone on to elaborate and press that theme.  For example, Quadragesimo Anno (1931) posed the “just wage” as one that could support a family and allow for some accumulation of property. 


    But back to the role of profits, Pope Benedict says the following in the most recent encyclical, Truth and Charity (Caritas in Veritate): “Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a signal both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it.  Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.”


    In sum, my view is that the purpose of business is to provide goods and services to customers and, two, to provide employment and opportunity to those involved in the enterprise.  Business enjoys a supportive environment provided by society and, in turn, it boosts the standard of living of society and contributes to the common good.




    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 8/3/2011 05:01:13 PM


    In late June I attended a meeting in Washington DC to discuss the creation of a system that helps MBA students select a program.  It is being developed as an alternative to the MBA program rankings that have become very prominent and influential.


    The meeting was called by the Business Education Alliance (BEA).   The chief organizers are three business school deans – Larry Pulley (William and Mary), Tony Hendrickson (Creighton), and Caryn Beck-Dudley (Florida State).  They have been working on this for nearly two years and now are on the verge of founding a non-profit organization to provide this tool to aspiring MBA students.


    There are lots of rankings out there about MBA programs, particularly full-time MBA programs.  We do not have a full-time program, so it is not something I spend much time on.  But as far as program rankings in general go, I don’t know of any leader in higher education who really likes them.  Still, they are part of our world now, and they are not going away any time soon.


    I’ve always been struck by how students, alumni, and advisory boards get excited about rankings.  They really get people’s attention.  Albers has been fortunate enough to receive recognition in some of the rankings out there, particularly in US News and World Report and BusinessWeek.   Still, anyone with any sense should know it is very difficult to compare a few schools vs. one another let alone the 550 AAACB accredited business schools in the US or the more than 13,000 business schools worldwide.  All are doing very similar and at the same time very different work.  The experience of an undergraduate student in Albers is very different than one at Seattle Pacific University or one at any of the three University of Washington campuses.  To try to rank even this small group against one another is very difficult, since the student experience can be impacted by so many different factors, including:


    1. Students choose to participate in different program opportunities, thus there is no one student experience in a business program.  For example, one student could choose to be in our Mentor Program and another not.  That will have an impact on their Albers experience.
    2. Students enter the program at different entry points, for example as incoming freshman, as a sophomore transferring from another school on campus, or as a junior transfer coming from a local community college.  Each will yield a different experience.
    3. Students have different interests, skills and aptitudes, and these may match better in one program than another.
    4. Not only will it make a difference as to which faculty the student will have in classes, and who the student’s academic advisor will be, but who will be the friends and support group of the student on campus?  Two students in the same year and major will have a very different experience based on this alone.


    All these factors and more make it very difficult to put much stock in rankings as a tool for selecting the right school to attend.


    The approach of the BPA is to identify about 20 factors that describe an MBA program.  The inquiring student inputs his or her preferences and an algorithm identifies the programs that best match those preferences.  There is also an audit function so that the integrity of the information provided by schools can be checked.


    Whether the BPA can pull this off remains to be seen.  Stay tuned!





    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/26/2011 08:35:03 AM


    The International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) held its 17th annual world Forum in Lima, Peru July 17-20.  Hosted by the Universidad del Pacifico (UP), the meeting brought together representatives from 35 universities (mostly Jesuit) from six continents around the world.  The meeting had the theme of “Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusive Business,” and panels and workshops had that theme.  Two Albers faculty gave paper presentations consistent with those themes, Bill Weis and Meena Rishi (along with former student Samantha Galvin).


    The conference took place at the UP campus.  The campus is small, but they have cleverly intertwined their buildings, like a 3-d puzzle, to create open space for what is a very urban campus.  The conference is an opportunity to meet deans from other universities and learn about their programs and interest in collaboration.  Some of the schools that I talked to about collaboration were from such countries as Belgium, Uruguay, Colombia, and the US.


    There was a presentation made on the Jesuit African Initiative, which is an effort to establish business schools in four African nations – Kenya, the Congo, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda/Burundi.  African Jesuits have identified this as one of their greatest needs, and according to AACSB there are only 781business schools on the continent (none Jesuit) out of more than 13,000 worldwide.  The initiative is just getting off the ground, with Fr. Ron Anton, SJ, the Secretary for Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, taking the lead in organizing it.


    This seems like an important project for us to get involved in.  The initiative is seeking a lead school for each of the four projects and a group of supporting schools, as well.  I am thinking we want to go the supporting school route, and the one that makes the most sense to me initially is the Rwanda/Burundi project.  It requires instruction in French (for Burundi) and English (for Rwanda), and the lead school has been identified as the University of Namur in Belgium.  SU has been doing some exploration of work in Rwanda, and this may be a good vehicle for pushing this along.  Of course, we need to look at all four projects, but because the language of instruction will be French in Ivory Coast and the Congo, Kenya is another option for us.


    As the conference ended, I was elected to the IAJBS Board of Directors.  I guess they are running out of people to ask.  There are five members from four geographic areas – North America, South America, Asia, and Europe.  I was assured that the board only meets face-to-face at the annual meeting (which is in Barcelona next year) and otherwise meets by teleconference.  I’m not interested in a lot more out of town meetings!


    After the conference, my wife and I flew to Cuzco to see Machu Picchu and other sites in the Sacred Valley.  No disrespect to IAJBS and the host school, UP, but this was the highlight of the trip.  Plus, the sun was out in Cuzco, while this time of year Lima is covered in a perpetual blanket of clouds.


     We came to Peru and Machu Picchu 25 years ago for our honeymoon, so it was interesting to see how things have changed.  The country is much stronger from an economic and political standpoint, and the biggest disappointment was the amount of traffic in Lima and Cuzco.  That seems to be a negative that comes with economic progress.  Consistent with the conference theme of sustainability, we need to solve that problem, not just in Seattle, but in urban areas around the world!







    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/20/2011 07:27:53 PM


    I recently was appointed to AACSB’s Initial Accreditation Committee (IAC).  The first meeting was this week in Tampa.  The IAC makes recommendations on granting initial AACSB accreditation to business schools from around the world. 


    As you might guess, many more schools in candidacy are from outside the US, since the US is somewhat saturated with accredited schools.  As I anticipated, serving on this committee really allows you to learn a lot about business schools outside the US.  Just the first meeting was enough to verify that.  Nearly half the committee members come from outside the US, and of course their insights are very valuable and necessary.


    This committee is a committee that has a lot of work on its plate.  There were plenty of reports to read for this meeting (about 50 were on the agenda!), and I was told that the load was on the light side!  Reports vary in scope depending on where the school is in the accreditation process, but some are several hundred pages long.


    I was struck by the rigorous standards the committee holds schools to.  If anyone thinks that initial accreditation comes easy or that different schools receive different treatment, think again.  This group is committed to quality!


    This trip to Tampa was long and quick.  Leave Seattle on Thursday at 8:00 AM.  Get to the hotel in Tampa at 7:30 PM (EDT).  Meeting starts at 8:00 AM Friday morning.  Head to the airport at 2:30 PM.  Get back to Seattle at 10:00 PM (PDT), in time to get up in the morning for an 8:30 AM flight to Peru.  More on that in another blog!


    It turns out the committee plans to hold its March, 2012 meeting in Seattle, which was quite a surprise to me.  Since it will be on the Friday of finals week, we should be able to host the meeting on campus.  A number of committee members come from European schools, so I hope they will be able to take advantage of Seattle's non-stop flights from London, Paris, and Amsterdam.


    I learned that each year the committee holds a meeting outside the US.  Last year the location was Istanbul.  But this year, in light of the sluggish economic recovery, they decided to be conservative and keep all the meetings in the US, with one in Tampa, one in Boston, and one in Seattle.  No exotic trips abroad for me!  At least not this year – I’m serving a three year term. :}



    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 7/1/2011 09:04:24 AM


    The Summer Business Institute (SBI) is taking place this week.  SBI is a program designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to attend college.  African American, Hispanic, and Native students who have just finished their junior year in high school participate in the program.  They spend the week on campus taking classes taught by Albers faculty, living in the dorms, navigating campus, and doing company visits. 


    This is the ninth year of the program.  The 25 students in this year’s class come from 20 different high schools in the Seattle area.  Carl Marino, a former high school teaching, directs the program, and Barb Hauke, our marketing director, provides logistical support.  Six Albers students are serving as counselors.  It turns out that having our students as counselors is one of the most important and compelling parts of the student experience.  With the students serving as roll-models, they provide the participating students with important advice on how to navigate the college admissions process and how to be successful once they are on campus.


    Over the years, we have been fortunate to have a number of firms support the program, including Costco Wholesale, Washington Mutual, BECU, Wells Fargo, and Qwest.  Still, we struggle to raise money for the program, and it is such a great program it should be an easier sell!  While the program is targeted at students in the Seattle metro area, we have had participants from such places as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California.  Somehow they manage to find us!


    One important part of the experience is the company visits we do.  Here, the students get to see inside various organizations, usually one of the sponsoring companies, and hear from firm leaders.  Another part of the experience is a group project that draws on the classes taken and the outside visits.  Students end the program with a presentation of their project results.  This is always an inspiring part of the program when we get to see how much the students have learned.


    A few years ago we started inviting parents to the closing luncheon.  We had not anticipated what an important change this would prove to be, because it allowed us to provide them with information on the college admissions process and the possibilities for financial aid.  Most of these students would be first generation college students, so the family is not familiar with how these processes work, and frequently they do not have places to turn to find this information.  Especially important is to make sure that families know they should not look at the sticker price of SU and conclude they cannot afford to attend.  They need to know that programs such as the Costco Scholarship Program can make SU affordable.


    There are many SBI success stories.  One is Jonathan Bryant, who participated in SBI after his junior year at Kennedy High School.  He ultimately enrolled as a freshman at SU and went on to graduate from Albers with a finance degree.  Upon graduating from Albers, Jon took a position with a private equity firm in Bellevue.


    Another great story is Sandra Amolo.  Sandra was a student at Shorecrest High School when she participated in SBI. She enrolled in Albers as a marketing major, and has been a counselor for SBI for the last three years. She has taken advantage of many programs at SU, including an internship in Belize, and earlier this year took first place in the Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition.  After she completed her SBI work this week, she had to rush off to Washington, DC for a summer internship at the Smithsonian Institute. 


    SBI has been a very valuable program for the many students who have participated over the years.  Congratulations to Carl, Barb, our counselors and the participating faculty for delivering another excellent program to this year’s 25 students!





    Big Little Things

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/20/2011 07:56:37 AM


    As I was pulling out of the Broadway Garage a few weeks ago I realized that the parking spaces along Columbia St. that have been plaguing the exit and entry of the garage had been removed!  What a great day for SU!  I have been whining to people for ten years about the need to get rid of those spots, which accomplished so little while creating such havoc.  I learned that Rob Schwartz and Jonathan Bregman, from Campus Facilities, had pulled off this miracle that so many others could not do or were not motivated to do.  Thanks, Rob and Jonathan!  I need to take you out to lunch to celebrate!


    This big step forward caused me to think about other “Big Little Things” that have happened at SU.  By that I mean relatively minor steps that have created huge benefits for the campus.  I thought it would make a good theme for a blog, a Top Ten list of Big Little Things.  But ten will create too long of a blog, so I’ve settled on my Top Five Big Little Things at SU.  Here they are:


    1. Eliminating the parking along Columbia St. – with the city eliminating a few parking spots, now it will be much easier to get in and out of the garage.  Kudos to Rob and Jonathan.  Now we have to work on a turning lane to go North on Broadway!


    1. Remodeling Campion Ballroom – for a relatively small amount of money, we were able to dress up the Campion Ballroom to make it a decent space for holding events.  Actually, it is more than decent.  With all those windows, when the sun is out it is actually a spectacular venue!  Good riddance to those chandeliers.  They had been there for so long and looked so bad that they were actually threatening to come back in style!


    1. Scattering PCs around the Pigott Building – when I first arrived at SU, one of the things students complained the most about was the size of the Pigott computer lab.  There were simply not enough machines given the number of students.  After a year or two, we finally decided to try putting computers in public areas of the building to provide more access.  It worked!  Students were a lot happier, and in the scheme of things it was not that much money.  The big concern had been computer theft, but while we experienced some problems with theft, it never became a major issue.


    1. Creating the Albers Graduation Reception – another “When I first arrived …” story is that we used to have separate graduation parties for undergrad and grad students weeks before graduation.  At the same time, we did not host a graduation event for families and friends of graduates and the chance for graduates to say goodbye to faculty and staff.  The graduation parties were suspect – the undergrad event was a during-the-week well-before-finals drinking opportunity for students.  The grad event was a weakly-attended well-before-finals evening event for people who are ready to head home at that hour.  It finally dawned on us that we needed to end those two events and use the resources to host our reception for graduates on the Saturday before graduation.  We have never looked back on that decision!   The reception for graduating students has proven to be a very popular event for all!


    1. HLEMBA – our new Health Leadership EMBA program draws heavily on the curriculum of our Leadership EMBA program and leverages the assets we have developed around the latter to help deliver the former.  When we started working with the College of Nursing on an MBA type program that could include nursing graduate students, we did not have HLEMBA in mind.  But as we did more and more research with them, the vision of HLEMBA began to emerge.  It became an obvious program to launch.  Plus the LEMBA program allowed us to attempt a quick roll out of the program.  We made the decision to move forward with program development in December, 2010.  It completed the SU approval process in May, 2011.  We are now recruiting for a class that begins in August, 2011!  That is warp speed in the non-profit side of academe!


    OK, so three of the five have to do with Albers.  Isn’t that a bit biased, you ask?  Yes, it probably is.  In which case, send me your bigger “Big Little Things at SU!” 



    Posted by Liz Wick on 6/14/2011 06:39:30 PM

    This past weekend was graduation weekend for Seattle University.  Thousands gathered on Sunday, June 12th, to celebrate our degree recipients.  It always is a great occasion for our students and their family and friends.  It is a bitter-sweet moment for our faculty and staff, though.  We know these students need to move on to the next stage in their lives, but we hate to see them go!

    Graduation really begins the day before on Saturday, first with the Graduation Brunch and then the Baccalaureate Mass.  The former is now becoming a “What will Fr. Steve dream up this time?” event, as in the last few years he has come up with some very creative PowerPoint slide presentations.   The latter takes place at St. James Cathedral, and is always very crowded with students and their families, as it should be.  What was especially noteworthy this year was that it was the first time that Archbishop Peter Sartain presided at the mass.   As one would expect, he has a different style than his predecessor.

    Now that Arthur Fisher is no longer Dean of Mateo Ricci, I have the honor of getting Dean Sue Schmitt over to St. James.  Taking on the Columbia St. hill by the Broadway Garage is quite a workout, and not really a problem, except I keep tripping over my graduation gown.  I am going to have to do something about  that.  And going downhill backwards is just as much work as going up!

    The Albers Graduation Reception takes place in the Paccar Atrium immediately following the Baccalaureate Mass.  At this occasion, students are invited to bring their family and friends to meet faculty and staff.  It is a very well attended event – over 400 this year – and most of our faculty and staff make sure they are there because everyone looks forward to it.  We have a brief program, at which I know if I talk long enough Fr. Steve will eventually show up and extend his congratulations to the graduates!  This year Nadeje Alexandre and Suzanne Jayne-Jensen took the lead in organizing and did another great job with the event.

    In the evening, there is a dinner honoring newly appointed emeriti faculty and honorary degree recipients.  Barb Yates is one of the new emeriti faculty, so I had the opportunity to speak to her many accomplishments in her 41 years at SU.  You can check the previous blog on Barb for more details!  Tun  Channareth, the Nobel Prize winning honorary degree recipient, nominated by our faculty members Peter Raven and Quan Le, was also recognized at the dinner.  Reth visited my Econ 271 class two weeks ago and the students found him to be quite inspirational.

    Graduation takes place at Key Arena, which is a great facility since it is big enough and we don’t have to worry about the weather.  However, on this particular Sunday, the weather was very accommodating, so there was some good picture taking going on.  The undergraduate ceremony took place in the morning and included awarding honorary degrees to Japanese-American students who were forced to leave SU due to the internment camps.  Their resilience in the face of this injustice is impressive, for it seems they all went on to do important things in their careers and in raising their families.  Many family members participated in the ceremony.  Unfortunately, the one surviving student who had planned to attend the graduation was unable to attend due to a recent illness, but her daughter delivered a very inspiring message in her stead.  The undergraduate ceremony tends to run long and each year we wonder what to do about.  Fewer graduates (and thus fewer names to read) is NOT an option!

    After a two hour break, it is back at it with the graduate ceremony.  Fewer graduate students mean a shorter event, of course.  Tun  Channareth received his honorary degree at this ceremony. He gave a very inspiring and vigorous speech, as I knew he would based on his visit to my class.  He urged the audience to sign the petitions to end land mines and cluster bombs.  He also had some very nice things to say about SU based upon his two week visit to our campus.  That is correct, he has been here from his home in Cambodia for two weeks.  I doubt we will see that again from any of our honorary degree recipients! 

    Also of keen interest to me as the business school dean was that MBA student Dejan Mitkovski gave the student graduation speech.  Dejan did a fine job with his remarks, and I could not help noticing that his parents, who flew out from Detroit, were in the first row of the balcony right by the podium and right in my line of sight.  They were closer to him than I was, and justifiably proud of his performance.

    At both graduations, after the students receive their degree from the President, they are to walk across the stage to shake the hand of their dean.  However, most of them don’t know that.  They are most likely to be scanning the crowd for their family or staring down at the stage to make sure they don’t trip over their graduation gown.  One has to work very hard to intercept them to bestow the deanly handshake.  This year there was a new twist – some seemed to think I was there to take back their diploma and they were ready to hand it over!  Of course, they don’t actually receive their diploma, just a note saying the diploma will be in the mail assuming they have settled their accounts and successfully   completed their requirements for graduation!

    We had 330 undergraduates receiving business degrees this year and 315 graduate students.  At the graduate ceremony, the business students were last in line, so I shook the hand of the last student graduating that day.  I learned the next day from Megan Spaulding that it was her brother!  I did not even know her brother was in our program!  I am not keeping up with what is going on in the Albers School! :}

    Center for Business Ethics

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 6/5/2011 10:16:05 PM


    On June 3rd we held the launch for our Center for Business Ethics.  John Dienhart, the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Business Ethics, is directing the center and taking the lead in organizing.  He has been ably assisted this year by his graduate student assistant, Aaron Hayden.  Faculty, staff, students, advisory board members, and other supporters gathered for the launch ceremony.

    As a business school at a Jesuit, Catholic university, Albers has long placed an emphasis on business ethics, and in more recent decades, social responsibility, and in the last decade, sustainability.  Since the Albers School was founded in 1947, a concern for ethics and values has been part of our DNA and it has been part of the student experience for decades.

    The overarching theme of the center will be the importance of creating an ethical business culture in organizations.  Key activities of the center will include assisting Albers faculty with integrating ethics and social responsibility into the classes they teach, as well as organizing workshops and conferences that bring together academics and practitioners to address ethical issues,

    It has been a long journey to get to this point.  In 2002 we approached Frank Shrontz to support the Albers Business Ethics Initiative (ABEI).  Our message was that the endowment for the ethics chair only covered the salary of the chair holder, and if there were additional resources available to the chair, more could be accomplished.  In particular, we proposed a series of workshops and conferences on key ethical challenges that would be targeted to the business community.

    Frank and his wife, Harriet, graciously agreed to support the ABEI and proposed a challenge grant – they would match contributions up to $60,000.  As a result, we were able to raise over $120,000 and that funding supported a series of workshops and conferences that well received and continued beyond the original three year time frame envisioned.

    Creating a $1 million endowment for a new Center for Business Ethics was one of the priority projects for the Albers School in the 2003-2009 Seattle University capital campaign, “For the Difference We Make.”  We raised over $580,000 in the campaign, and that was enough to launch the center.  Since we did not meet our goal, we will continue to raise funds for this endowment.  The additional resources will allow the center to expand its activity and reputation.

    It was great to have Frank Shrontz present at the ceremony.  Not only is he the namesake of our endowed chair in business ethics, but he also supported the ABEI and the center endowment.  More importantly, in his tenure as CEO of Boeing, he set the standard for ethics and integrity.  It was a blow to Boeing that his successors could not maintain that standard.  Fortunately for Boeing and all of us, more recent company leadership has looked to his example for inspiration on how to lead the company in the 21st century.  Others who were instrumental in the funding of the center were also present, including Martin and Maryann Simonetti, Gerry Swanson, and Mark Pinkowski.

    This occasion is also a reminder of the great work of the development officers who have supported the Albers School over the years.  Annagreta Jacobson was instrumental in organizing the ABEI and Gail Yates was critical to the success of all the capital campaign projects for the Albers School, including the ethics center endowment.

    The Center for Business Ethics is an exciting development in the Albers School.  It will give focus to things that have always been important to us – ethics, social responsibility, and values based education.


    Barb Yates

    Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on 5/30/2011 09:06:46 AM


    Barb Yates is retiring after 41 years at Seattle U.  Barb teaches economics and has been chair of the Department of Economics since 1989.  She started at SU in 1970.  She has earned seven teaching awards at SU, including the SU Alumni Professor of the Year Award in 2006.  She has no doubt taught thousands of students (quite successfully!) and as department chair mentored and guided dozens of faculty.  What a run!  She will be sorely missed at SU.

    We had a dinner for her last week, and it gave people a chance to pay tribute to her many contributions to SU.  Bill Weis and Dave Tinius, who have been colleagues for most of her time at SU, complained about her scooping up all the teaching awards.  Fred Dekay spoke about the collegiality of the Department of Economics (and for a long time, the Department of Economics and Finance) under Barb’s leadership.  John Eshelman noted how Barb provided credibility and cover to the Pacioli Society.  If you are not familiar with the secretive Pacioli Society, it was created by Dave and Bill to facilitate the celebration of Luca Pacioli’s 400th birthday and was instrumental in the sustainability of their study tours to Sansepolcro, Italy (Pacioli’s birthplace).  The Pacioli Society has been the target of many rumors, none that can be repeated here.

    Sean Klosterman, a former student of Barb’s, talked about Barb as a servant-leader, and it certainly was a fitting observation.  She truly has been serving students and colleagues for over 40 years.  Barb Yates doesn’t seem to have an ego.  She is never looking for credit for anything she does.  She is very humble and unassuming.  Several in the audience noted that she was always upbeat – the glass is always “half full rather than half empty” for Barb.

    It is faculty and staff such as Barb Yates that have enabled Seattle U. to carry out its mission of academic excellence.  The rising reputation of the university is the result of her hard work and long standing dedication to the mission of the university, and others like her.  Barb is one of many faculty and staff who should not be taken for granted in terms of what they contribute to “educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”  It certainly has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Barb Yates during my ten years at SU!



    Dean Spam

    Posted by Liz Wick on 5/20/2011 08:41:08 AM

    Dean Spam is something I send out every two weeks updating people on what is happening in Albers.  I started sending it out within my first year as dean because I saw how faculty and staff were not able to keep up with the activities of their colleagues.  In many cases the right hand did not seem to know what the left hand was doing!

    At first I sent it only to faculty and staff.  Then I started sending it to my advisory board.  Then others in the school said I should send it to their advisory board, so at some point it started to go to all our advisory boards.  I started sending to a few people on campus, such as people in PR, and pretty soon others on campus got wind of it and wanted to receive a copy (such as people in University Advancement).  So, now there are a lot of people from on and off campus who receive Dean Spam and some of them even appear to read it!

    I think it has been a useful tool for communicating, and there are several important characteristics of Dean Spam.  First, the content is kept very simple and I don't tell people every little detail about something.  If people want more information, they will ask.  Too much information and they will stop reading.  Second is to send it on a consistent schedule, which is basically every two weeks (although in the summer it is more likely to be every three weeks).  I don't think it works well to send it out "every once in a while."  Third, I keep it simple by just cutting and pasting from a Word document.  No HTML or fancy graphics in this missive!

    In it's early days, I would occasionally have people warn me that I needed to change the title, because "Dean Spam" would get snatched up by spam filters and my message would never get through.  I resisted that because I liked the title "Dean Spam" since it was such an apt description and I could not think of something simliar.  It turns out that Dean Spam did not get blocked very often, and when it did those folks could easily set their filter to correct the problem.  That is, if they wanted to correct the problem!

    When we first started discussing blogging, someone suggested I routinely post Dean Spam up on the blog.  Below is the latest edition of Dean Spam, sent yesterday.  It is a pretty typical edition.  I'm not sure that I should routinely post Dean Spam to the blog.  What do you think??  If I don't hear back, I will take that as an indication that it is not necessary!  Also, if you would like to be added to the list of Dean Spam recipients, let me know and I will do that.


    Dean Spam May 19th, 2011


    Congratulations to David Reid.  His article “A Study of Chinese Street Vendors: How They Operate,” co-authored with Eugene Fram (Rochester Institute of Technology) and Chi Guotai (Dalian University of Technology), has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Business.

    SIFE Places in Top Ten Nationally 

    Our SIFE team placed ninth in the national contest that took place in Minneapolis last week.  More than 360 team competed in the nationwide competition.  The team also received Campbell Soup’s Lasting Hunger Relief Award, which is given for the project that best helps people break the cycle of poverty.  Leo Simpson serves as faculty advisor for the group.  They repeated their presentation today at noon in Pigott Auditorium so we could see how good they are!

    HLEMBA Approved 

    The SU Board of Trustees approved the new Health Leadership EMBA program on May 5th and we are recruiting the first class for Fall, 2011!  For more information, you can go to

    School Meeting 

    On May 13th, over 60 faculty and staff gathered for a school meeting.  The meeting included reports on the Albers SU Youth Initiative Task Force, the Undergraduate Business Core Task Force, and IB Assurance of Learning.

    Red Winged Leadership Award 

    The Red Winged Leadership Award Ceremony was held on May 12th  in Campion Ballroom.  The award process is led by students in the Graduate Leadership Formation Certificate Program, and recognizes social entrepreneurs for their business acumen, leadership, and social impact.  First prize went to Chris Fontana of Global Visionaries.  Global Visionaries empowers youth from diverse backgrounds to become leaders and global citizens through community engagement.

     Business Plan Competition 

    The final round of the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition took place on May 13th.  More than $30,000 in prize money was distributed, with Feral Motion as the grand champion.  The event featured a luncheon address by Ben Elowitz, CEO of Wetpaint and co-founder of Blue Nile.  Over 150 volunteers were involved in the process as mentors and judges.

      Microsoft Exec Speaks 

    Kurt DelBene, President of Microsoft’s Office Division, spoke as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series on May 19th.  His topic was, “Transforming the Microsoft Office Business for the Cloud,” with over 150 in attendance.

     Albers Awards Ceremony 

    The Albers Awards Ceremony took place on May 13th in Pigott Auditorium.  Over 100 friends and family gathered to recognize the accomplishments of our outstanding students.  Bill Santucci received the Paul Volpe Award for the highest academic performance of an undergraduate student.  Andrew Barfoot received the Jerry Viscione Award for the highest performing grad student.  Ajla Aljik received the Spirit of Albers Award for the student who best embodies the values of Albers.   Altogether, 23 awards were presented. 

    BGS Ceremony 

    The Awards Ceremony was followed by the Beta Gamma Sigma Installation Ceremony.  BGS is the academic honorary for AACSB accredited business schools. Thirty-one undergraduate and 62 graduate students were inducted into BGS.  Tiffany Wadel received the $1,000 BGS scholarship and Carlos Mello-e-Souza received the BGS Professor of the Year award.  Congratulations to all!

    Volunteer Recognition Event 

    The Albers School Volunteer Recognition took place on Thursday, May 19th.  The event recognizes advisory board members, mentors, and others who have supported our work over the last year.

    Business Week Rankings 

    Although we were not included in the overall Business Week undergraduate business programs rankings for 2011 because an insufficient number of recruiters responded to the survey, we did receive some good scores in some of the program rankings.  Highlights include #4 in the nation in sustainability, #7 in business ethics, #11 in quantitative methods, #12 in international business, and #15 in entrepreneurship.  You can check out the rankings at:  

    It seems these rankings don’t rely on the recruiters! :}

     Nobel Prize Winner to Speak 

    Tun Channareth, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient and 2011 SU Honorary Degree Recipient, will be speaking as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series on June 2nd.  It will take place in Pigott Auditorium from 5:30 -6:30 p.m. The title of his presentation will be, "Landmines: A Story from the Heart," For details and to sign the Petition for the US to join the Landmine Ban Treaty you can go to:  


    Have a good weekend!


    Busy Day at the Albers School

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 5/16/2011 10:25:17 AM


    Last Friday was a busy day in the Albers School.  Hard to imagine, but we started with a school meeting at 10:00 AM!  That may be unprecedented.  At the meeting we covered Albers’ involvement in the Seattle University Youth Initiative, our process to review our undergraduate business core curriculum, our new Health Leadership EMBA program, and our assessment process for international business. 

    Then, starting at noon, we had the finals of the 13th annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition.  It seems like it gets better and better every year.  The competition started with a luncheon, with Ben Elowitz, CEO of Wetpaint and co-founder of Blue Nile as the featured speaker.  He did such a fine job there was no need for me to provide an inspiring speech! 

    I had to leave by the time the presentations of the five final teams began, so I missed that and the announcing of the results at the awards ceremony, where $30,000 in prize money was awarded.  Among other things, I had to be ready for the Albers Awards Ceremony at 4:00 PM.  What can I say?  It was a busy day for the Albers School.  It's a shame so many of us had to be in two places at once, but that is what happens in the spring quarter when you are doing so many end of the year events. 

    Of course, the competition did not start last week, but back in the winter quarter with a call for entries, followed by the initial screening round.  Judges reviewed 34 plans.  This narrowed the competition to 20, who then competed in the Elevator Pitch and Trade Show competitions.  You make it through that and you are in the finals.  There were five teams in the finals. I’m told the judges had a very difficult time ranking the five finalists, but Feral Motion was the eventual winner. 

    The competition is a great example of how we rely on volunteers from the Seattle business community to educate our students.  Steve Brilling, our Entrepreneurship Center director, estimates there were some 160 volunteers in the process.  Wow!! 

    The business plan competition is a great learning experience for the students who participate, especially those who make it deep into the competition.  And increasingly, we see that these business plans become viable businesses.  Mobata, Vera Fitness, and Girlie Girl Wine are all examples. 

    Congratulations to Steve, Kim Eshelman, administrative assistant for the center, and all the other folks involved in making the competition a success! 

    At the Albers Awards Ceremony we get to recognize our most outstanding students for their accomplishments at SU.  Twenty-three different awards are distributed to students.  Some of the more notable awards are the Paul Volpe Award (highest undergraduate academic performance), the Spirit of Albers Award (the student who best exemplifies the Albers mission to develop ethical and socially responsible leaders), and the Jerry Viscione Award (highest graduate student academic performance).  Congratulations to Ajla Aljic, Bill Santucci, and Andrew Barfoot respectively for receiving these awards!  Bill’s award is particularly impressive, since he has received the top academic award four years in a row.  He will also be receiving the President’s Award at graduation, which is the top award for all undergraduate students at SU.   

    The ceremony is followed by a reception for parents and friends.  Then, at 5:30 PM, we were supposed to start the Beta Gamma Sigma installation ceremony.  However, the award ceremony was a bit behind schedule, so we started closer to 6:00 PM. 

    BGS is the academic honorary for business students.  Those inducted are our strongest students, which makes for another inspirational event.  Fred DeKay always does a terrific job of organizing our BGS ceremony, but Fred is on a leave of absence this quarter, so he persuaded Madhu Rao and Hildegard Hendrickson to fill in.  Hildegard is a legendary emeritus faculty member in our school, who retired in 1996.  It’s always good to see her at the BGS ceremony.   We inducted 31 undergraduate and 62 graduate students into BGS!  The BGS Professor of the Year award went to Carlos Mello-e-Souza.  That is quite an honor, Carlos!  It’s coming from our most demanding students! 

    My day was not done after the BGS ceremony, however.  My final stop was at a fundraiser for The Roots Project, which is a NGO focusing on improving the economic status of women in South Sudan.  I am planning to meet later this week with the founder, Anyieth D’Awol, to see if there are ways for Albers to collaborate with her organization.  [Anyieth is the daughter-in-law of Frank McKulka, who is on the advisory board of our soon to be launched Center for Business Ethics.]


    Red Winged Leadership Award Ceremony

    Posted by Liz Wick on 5/13/2011 08:32:34 AM

    The Red Winged Leadership Award ceremony took place last night.  The award is given to social entrepreneurs who are inspirational in terms of business acumen, social impact, and leadership. The award is managed entirely by our students in the Graduate Leadership Formation Certificate program.

    This is the second year of the program. When the students in last year’s GLFC group conceived and developed the program, I encouraged them to make it a sustainable enterprise that future students help carry forward, either subsequent GLFC groups or some other group of students. This year’s event definitely had sustainability all over it! There were more than 400 people in attendance last night! This could become one of SU’s proudest traditions! What is especially compelling about this event is how it aligns so closely with the mission of the university.

    This program is such a great example of what students can accomplish when you put them in charge! I think they are an untapped resource for us! How do we use our imaginations to unleash their creative energies?! This is one example. What is the next??

    At ast night’s ceremonies, three social entrepreneurs were recognized -- Chris Fontana from Global Visionaries, Shana Greene from Village Volunteers, and Danna Johnston from the Danna K. Johnston Foundation. Each is an impressive and inspiring leader who has created very impressive programs that provide important support to underserved groups. They are all winners! Each deserved a prize and each received one, but the top prize went to Chris Fontana!

    I told the students in my Econ 271 class they could earn extra credit by attending the ceremony and writing an essay on which of the three finalists they found to be the most inspiring. I am looking forward to reading those essays!

    The event included some excellent videos on each of the finalists. We need to get them up on our U-Tube site so people can see them! In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about the work of the finalists by checking their websites: 

    Each year the event should get better and better, and this continuous improvement should become part of the tradition. One of the important changes this year was moving the venue to Campion Ballroom. The ballroom looks a lot better these days with its new lighting and decorating. It was sorely needed and the improvements represent the best spending done on campus in the ten years I have been here! The new venue allowed for a reception that did not take place last year.

    Kudos to the students involved in the GLFC this year and to the two faculty who guided them, Rubina Mahsud and Jennifer Marrone!

    Off and Running

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 5/3/2011 11:57:10 AM
    We’ve been wondering whether the dean should do a blog for some time now. Is it something we really need to be doing as part of our social media strategy? Not that we think we really understand social media. I know some of my dean colleagues blog, but does anyone ever read them and are the benefits exceeding the costs?

    My sense is that if you start blogging, you need to keep it going in a consistent fashion, probably at least once a week. And you probably need to be providing information people otherwise don’t get – it can’t be a series of announcements and it can’t be Dean Spam. It needs to be short enough that people don’t need to spend too much time reading it.

    Is anyone really going to read it and how will we know? More importantly, how will people know it is there? I suppose I can give it a plug on Dean Spam and we can announce it in our publications, such as the Albers Brief. But will that create any interest?

    And what should the content be? We asked some staff and actually got back a number of ideas. I don’t have them in front of me now, since I am on an airplane flying back to Seattle. And why I am flying back to Seattle?

    I’m returning from a week-long trip to the East Coast. First, on April 25th I flew to LaGuardia through Chicago, and the second flight was delayed three hours, so I arrived late at night to the Marriot in Trumbull , CT for the start of my visit to Sacred Heart University to meet with them regarding their AACSB accreditation reaffirmation visit. The visit is scheduled for February, 2012 and I am chairing the team. They wanted my take on their readiness for the visit. They are taking this very seriously, since it seemed like I met with just about every faculty and staff member in one exciting day! To top it off, I also met with the President and the Provost for dinner. I don’t think that happens very often on such visits! I know I couldn’t pull it off here at SU!

    The next day I took the train from Fairfield, CT to Grand Central Station to attend the AACSB annual meeting in New York City. It turns out the meeting didn’t really start until Thursday, but on Wednesday I was able to meet a few SU alums in New York. Probably the most interesting was Stu Jackson, who graduated from Albers in 1978 and played basketball at SU in his senior year after transferring from Oregon. How in the world did that happen? It is an interesting story, but I want to save it for the Albers Brief! Today, Stu is Executive VP of Basketball Operations for the NBA. That means he is in charge of such things as the officiating (never a dull moment there) and handing out misconduct penalties to players. Now that is interesting, right!

    Stu told me that he was very grateful for the education he received at SU, especially for the personal attention he received from faculty. In particular, he remembered the support of Harriet Stephenson, who I assured him was still doing that for students today! Kudos, Harriet!

    Thursday and Friday were the start of the AACSB annual meeting. It’s not the most exciting stuff to blog about. Certainly one of the highlights has to be attending the Beta Gamma Sigma Dean’s Luncheon on Thursday and winning the door prize – a scholarship for one of our BGS students to the BGS Leadership Workshop. And to think I almost did not toss my business card into the basket. We normally send one student to this conference each year. Will we send one or two this year?? :}

    The best part is reconnecting with other deans I have gotten to know over the years. Friday morning the Jesuit deans had their traditional annual meeting breakfast. We discussed new joint marketing initiatives, the launch of our undergraduate business program directors group, and the agenda for our next meeting at Xavier in October. Joe DiAngelo from St. Joe’s is the incoming President of AACSB, so that should be good for our group. Norm Solomon, the dean at Fairfield, is stepping down at the end of the year, so we saluted him. Norm is someone I think very highly of and have always enjoyed working with. A scary thought is this means I am now the third longest serving business dean at a Jesuit school. I hope nothing happens to Bud Barnes (Gonzaga) and Joe DiAngelo!

    Late Friday I took the train down to Philadelphia to visit family and now it is Monday and I am headed back to Seattle. The big question is how are my students in Econ 271 surviving? They took a test on Tuesday and have a paper to submit on Thursday based on an in-class debate given by the SU Debate Team. I will find out tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM.

    Just like that -- off and blogging!