Dean’s Blog

Indian Junket

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on August 27, 2015 at 2:08 PM PDT

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 August 27, 2015 at 1:08 PM PDT

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 August 6, 2015 at 1:08 PM PDT

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:

 

 One of SU's parking spots:

 

 Classroom in progress:

2015 IAJBS World Forum

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on July 28, 2015 at 5:07 PM PDT

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 July 1, 2015 at 2:07 PM PDT

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 June 23, 2015 at 8:06 AM PDT

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:

 

 

 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 June 16, 2015 at 6:06 PM PDT

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 June 13, 2015 at 12:06 PM PDT

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 May 30, 2015 at 11:05 AM PDT

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 May 22, 2015 at 5:05 PM PDT

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!