Dean’s Blog

Dean Karlan

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on October 19, 2014 at 9:10 AM PDT

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 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 October 6, 2014 at 10:10 PM PDT

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 June 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM PDT

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 June 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM PDT

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 June 17, 2014 at 10:06 AM PDT

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:




Graduation 2014

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on June 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM PDT

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):

Hildegard Hendrickson

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on June 8, 2014 at 4:06 PM PDT

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:


Red Winged Leadership Award 2014

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on June 8, 2014 at 4:06 PM PDT

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 June 3, 2014 at 10:06 AM PDT

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 June 3, 2014 at 8:06 AM PDT

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!