Campus Community / People of SU

Forming Leaders

Written by Allison Nitch

January 11, 2021

Photo of Teresa Rothausen

Image credit: Mike Ekern, courtesy of University of St. Thomas

Teresa J. Rothausen, PhD, drawn to social justice focus of business leadership program.  

Teresa J. Rothausen, PhD, serves as executive director for the Center for Leadership Formation (CLF) and professor in the Management Department at Albers School of Business and Economics. With nearly three decades of experience as a member of professional and academic business organizations, she has brought a new perspective and appreciation for all Seattle University has to offer since joining the campus community last June.

“I think it is safe to say that it is rare, if not unique, to find a social justice-oriented leadership program within a business school,” she says. “I truly believe it is a program that other business schools need to emulate.”

Formed by Marilyn Gist, PhD, in 2006, the CLF is home to Seattle U’s executive education programs for mid- to senior-level professionals with an emphasis on leadership, business expertise and a commitment to social responsibility.

With “the support of an amazing team of faculty and staff,” Rothausen’s role is to “ensure our powerful programs remain healthy and robust, while also leading a process to explore new ways to deliver our powerful experiences of transformation.”

She’s looking for support from the SU community and its corporate partners in Seattle “to help us innovate new ways of delivering aspects of the important work happening in CLF to form leaders with a reignited joy in their work...oriented toward harnessing the power of business to transform society toward the common good.”

As a faculty member, “... the most rewarding thing for me is to witness the increasing sense of freedom and hope arising in leaders as they learn more deeply about themselves, the world and their roles ...,” says Rothausen.

“Meaning-Based Job-Related Well-being: Exploring a Meaningful Work Conceptualization of Job Satisfaction,” an article she wrote along with a colleague, was recognized as one of 12 “most notable” contributions by the editorial board of the Journal of Business and Psychology in 2019. Considering that body of research during these times of crises, Rothausen notes that new opportunities can emerge.

“...We are able to give to others in a way that is even more meaningful because it’s needed more than ever. And we can use the opportunity of the ‘moment’ caused by COVID-19, increased racial unrest and the impact of climate degradation to rethink where you want to spend your life and leadership energy. What work, even within your current job, is most meaningful and life affirming for you? What contributes most to the common good and how can you get more of that?”

She goes on to say “leaders help others make meaning of crises such as these. Where there is fear, leadership can reassure, calm and pull us together.” Or it “can exacerbate and direct the fear outward, dividing us ... Similarly, where there is compassion, leaders can either make that feel naïve or unite it toward extraordinary achievements of human spirit.”

The mother of three adult children finds joy in family, friends, reading and staying active outdoors. As a Midwest transplant, the former season ticket holder of the Minnesota Opera and member of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is “eager to explore all these activities in Seattle once we are back in physical community!”