Dean’s Blog

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!


Fred DeKay

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on May 20, 2015 at 8:05 AM PDT

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:



Jeff Wilke

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on May 13, 2015 at 11:05 AM PDT

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 May 12, 2015 at 1:05 PM PDT

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:




2015 Beta Gamma Sigma Award Ceremony

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on May 11, 2015 at 8:05 AM PDT

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 May 11, 2015 at 8:05 AM PDT

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!