Business and Ethics / People of SU

Remembering Former Albers Dean Jerry Viscione

Written by Andrew Binion

March 16, 2023

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Served as the business school dean in the 80s and 90s, invigorating the curriculum, fostering scholarship and enhancing services for students.

Jerry A. Viscione, former dean of the Albers School of Business and Economics credited with developing and invigorating graduate programs—including adding the “economics” to its name—died March 7, 2023. He was 78. 

A private, fair and friendly man originally from Boston where he was the chair of the Finance Department at Boston College, Viscione was nevertheless described as tireless and a “bulldog” when it came to increasing enrollment, expanding Seattle University’s reach, serving students and recruiting top-notch faculty. He served as Albers dean from 1988 to 1997.

“Jerry Viscione changed the trajectory of the Albers School, bringing a vision committed to academic excellence and to providing an exceptional student experience,” says Albers Dean Joseph M. Phillips, PhD. “Much of what distinguishes Albers today can be traced back to his leadership.”

By the time he left, “He had completely transformed the school, for the better,” says Professor Emeritus of Marketing Rex Toh, PhD. When Viscione started at SU, Albers had about 30 faculty members, Toh recalls, but soon doubled the size of the faculty and created individual departments by discipline.

This meant offering higher salaries to recruit new professors while also giving raises to existing faculty. Part of this was achieved by increasing enrollment and retention through expanded programs and mentorships.

What Viscione set into motion remains to this day, says Department of Economics Professor Emeritus Fred DeKay, PhD, who served as Viscione’s associate dean.

“We’ve been able to carry that on and build on that,” Dekay says.

During his last year at SU, before leaving for Marquette University, Viscione served as acting provost.

“He really cared,” says Professor of Management Bill Weis, PhD. “I think he created the environment that attracted outstanding scholarship.”

The legacy of his commitment to academic excellence is placed in high relief with the award that bears his name, given to the graduate student who scored the highest academic performance.

“He had absolutely no patience with poor or mediocre teaching,” recalls Provost Emeritus and Economics Professor Emeritus John Eshelman, PhD, who says Viscione had won the respect and affection of faculty. “He was very conscious that our reason for being was the students.”

Following his work at Marquette, Viscione and his wife, Gail, returned to Seattle.

“His acculturation to Seattle wasn’t always easy,” says Eshelman. “One day he said to me, ‘You know the problem with you people in Seattle? You’re too nice to each other!’ He missed the sharp elbows and directness he was used to in Boston and New York. He must have adjusted, judging by the fact that when he retired, he chose Seattle.”

At Viscione’s request, no memorial service will be held, but those who wish to do something in his memory can make a contribution to a charity of their choosing.

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