Dean’s Blog

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!

Jerry Stritzke -- REI CEO

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on June 1, 2014 at 5:06 PM PDT

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 June 1, 2014 at 5:06 PM PDT

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 May 28, 2014 at 6:05 PM PDT

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 inspirational brand, 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 May 21, 2014 at 9:05 AM PDT

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!