Before his untimely death in 2012, Don Summers taught undergrad and graduate courses at SPU with an emphasis in business ethics, change management, strategic planning, and human resources. He came to SPU after a varied and distinguished career in business, serving as a project manager for the Grace Commission in Washington, leading human resources at Del Med (a medical technology firm in Boston), and holding numerous positions at Bank of Boston. He received an award from NASA for a project he did for the space agency.
After moving with his family to Seattle, Summers became an avid cyclist and an accomplished mountain climber — ascending all the major Northwest peaks as well as Mount Whitney in California. He also served as president of the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club in 2002 and 2003, and was a board member for 13 years.
In recent years, Summers pursued his lifelong passion for academics, and taught undergraduate and graduate classes in business (with a focus on business ethics) at SPU. Students especially appreciated his entrepreneurial insights and mentorship. One noted that “His enthusiasm for creating sustainable business to help people and societies was highly contagious.” Professor Summers was also appreciated by students and colleagues for his gentleness and wonderful sense of humor.
Most recently, he served as a clinical professor at SPU and was a co-founder of the Social Venture Plan Competition. He loved that the competition gave students a tangible, hands-on experience they couldn’t get in classes, and that it gave them a chance to collaborate with others to develop a plan for business with a social benefit. He expanded the SVPC program to include international participants, often inviting them to stay in his own home. This connection led to the establishment of a similar program at Duy Tan University in Vietnam, where he was teaching when he tragically succumbed to brain cancer in March 2012.
Don Summer cared deeply about teaching students how to conceive and implement social venture businesses.
The Don Summers Endowment will provide funding for a team prize and will augment the Social Venture Plan Competition.