Newsletter

Shareholders June 2020

From The Dean: HOLDING LOSS AND HOPE

I hope this issue of Shareholders finds you safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. At the School of Business, Government, and Economics, this has been a time of loss and expectation. Faculty, alumni, and students are all struggling with many worries and fears, yet there’s also a sense that disruption brings the possibility of innovation. 

I’m so proud of our faculty, who quickly pivoted to remote learning for Spring Quarter. I know they miss students greatly and are trying to discern how to retain the highly personal touch of an SPU education in a virtual environment. 

Some alumni, such as Aaron Morris, CEO of Lantern Press, have restructured their businesses to meet current needs. For example, Lantern Press, which typically focused on selling posters, created a network of puzzle manufacturers to produce original puzzles made in the United States. Lantern Press saw an opportunity to increase partnerships and revenue as puzzles are selling out across the country.

I’m also aware that other alumni are struggling with job losses, illness, and the need to temporarily or permanently close their business. In this issue, Kristi Drake ’83 talks about what it was like to shutter her bakery. 

My heart breaks for students, especially seniors who have had their pinnacle year shortened and are now figuring out how to find jobs and internships in this new environment. While I’ve always believed that SPU graduates make model employees, right now, SPU graduates are more relevant than ever. Businesses need employees who are trained to advance human flourishing through service. If your company is looking for employees or interns, please contact Lori Brown at the Center for Career and Calling.  

Ross Stewart

The SPU alumni network has always been a powerful place to help students and alumni network, and in this time, it’s invaluable. 

My heart also aches as I reflect on the tragic news that began in Minnesota with the death of George Floyd. SPU and SBGE stand with Black, Indigenous, and people of color among all our students, faculty, staff, and community. We join voices in solidarity to condemn the recent senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. As President Martin shared, SPU is committed to taking active steps toward change. SBGE is part of that. We will work together and pursue equal opportunities for all, becoming better allies with and pursuing hope for those communities most affected by these tragedies. 

Hope is one of our SBGE values, and we are called to bear witness to Christian hope that God is indeed active in the world. In this season of upheaval, let us bear witness through acts of faithfulness, love, and service.

Warm regards,

Ross Stewart

Don Lee

FIVE WAYS TO THINK STRATEGICALLY DURING A PANDEMIC

Don Lee, associate professor of management and strategic management expert at Seattle Pacific University, offers five tips for how to elevate your business during times of uncertainty. (This piece was shaped by Julia Siemens based on a conversation with Don Lee.)

1. Take a second look at your company’s mission.

Many people assume that business and life will go back to normal after shelter in place, but will they? This is a good time to think about what is constant and what may change forever. Analyze your organization’s mission and vision in this light, and determine what needs to stay the same and what doesn’t. Just as our own personal mission, vision, and calling can change at various life stages, the same is true in business.

2. Putting your stakeholders first can spur innovation.

Canlis, one of Seattle’s finest restaurants and known for its impeccable dining experience, prioritized customers and staff when they quickly switched from serving $135 four-course meals in their lake-view dining room to $14 burgers in their parking lot. Many high-end restaurants closed, but Canlis has continued to come up with innovative ways to operate. For example, you can order a rabbit pot pie for delivery and then livestream piano music from their dining room.

3. Partner up.

Uncertainty can develop grit, creativity, and the sense of “we’re all in this together.” Well-known Pike Place bakery, Piroshky Piroshky, launched a new website, Catch 22 Delivery, which allows customers to order from restaurants directly, eliminating the cost of third-party delivery sites. The website is nationwide and free to businesses. What an opportunity for businesses to collaborate and support each other.

4. Allow optimism to shed light on the shadow of negativity.

While it’s undeniable that the pandemic is causing painful blows to worldwide health and the global economy, we can choose whether to have a negative deterministic view of the future or one of prudent optimism. The approach you adopt will impact your actions. One fun example of this is a lunchroom and playground aide from Bolingbrook, Illinois, who wasn’t working and collaborated with a neighbor to make and sell squirrel picnic tables for $20. While they thought they would sell a few to other neighbors, she ended up selling 130 in less than a week! If you have an overly pessimistic outlook, it’s hard to step out creatively and try something new.

5. Acknowledge that we are not in complete control and keep your hopes up.

Faith-based organizations, such as SPU, have an advantage in that we already believe our operations are not entirely under our control. This gives us an opportunity to reflect, seek help, collaborate, and create space to be creative and innovative instead of hastily fixing things on our own. We can rest in the belief that our Lord is overseeing this. As President Dan Martin said, this is a perfect opportunity to lean into our faith in Christ. “We are called to walk in faith instead of fear.”

Denise Daniels

NOW IS THE TIME TO REIMAGINE FAITH AND WORK

“The COVID-19 virus is going to radically change how we think about work, and it is going to radically change how we think about faith at work,” said Denise Daniels, professor of management, in a recent piece she wrote for Made to Flourish. Read the full article.

PROFESSORS REFLECT UPON THE UPS AND DOWNS OF REMOTE LEARNING

Small, in-person classes are the staple of an SPU education, so asking professors to move their classes online was a huge deviation from normal operations. Two professors, Geri Mason and Andy Chen, took time to reflect on what it’s been like to quickly switch to an online format.

Geri Mason

Geri Mason, Associate Professor of Economics:

I have prior experience teaching online, so I had some ideas and resources ready to go. Many companies have been quite generous, expanding my options greatly. Harvard Business Publishing offered free access to its simulations, so my “Principles of Macro” students all got a fantastic policy simulation for no cost.

I’ve also enjoyed creating a video series on “The Economics of the Pandemic” for my “Principles of Macro” students, and another series on “Economics and the Sustainable Development Goals,” but I miss my students! I opted into a high-touch teaching environment because I love it. I have Zoom coffee dates with students that last over an hour sometimes, just catching up and trading tales (and talking about courses, of course!) Also, my heart breaks for my seniors — they are dealing with quite a bit of disappointment. Everyone else gets a redo next year, but not them. This is their finale.

This is an exercise in trust for me — I cannot micromanage my students or tune into their non-verbal signs. I need to trust them to let me know when they have questions, or just want to talk about a concern. I am also monitoring their work closely, and I request a one-on-one check-in with anyone who misses more than two assignments. This has been greatly appreciated by everyone and revealed how much the students are struggling through this.

Chen

Andy Chen, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Data Analytics:

Moving online has provided an opportunity to discover new technologies for education. Faculty and students are experimenting with tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Canvas, Panopto, Poll Everywhere, and Piazza, and it has been fruitful. This experience should benefit the school in the long run. On the other hand, we have to address challenges in managing remote classes and student engagement. Remote learning can be isolating, so it is necessary to check with the students often and gather feedback. In addition, we should keep in mind that not all students have equal access to technology and design assessments accordingly.

After the pandemic, our faculty should have the skills to work with different classroom formats and student needs. This is a work in progress, and I believe it will get better.

K Drake

ALUMNI REFLECTION: KRISTI DRAKE

What it was like to temporarily close shop after almost four decades of business

Kristi Drake ’83 is the co-owner of Le Panier, a fixture in Pike Place Market for almost 40 years. Many loyal customers count on the bakery for espresso, baguettes, and macarons. Some patrons bought their first croissant from Le Panier in the 1980s and now bring their grandchildren to sample the buttery pastry. The bakery employs 40 full- and part-time workers, several of whom have served Le Panier for more than 20 years. At the beginning of May, Drake wrote this reflection about what it was like to temporarily cease business at the place she’s worked at since graduation.

Shutting off our ovens and closing our doors in March was surreal. Le Panier has been operating for almost 37 years, only closing on major holidays. But with the news escalating every day, we knew it was the right thing to do. We did a campaign for curbside pickup and delivery for several weeks to continue the employment of our staff, but each day we felt more strongly that closing would be the best way to keep our staff safe and healthy. Surprisingly, it was a relief to suspend operations and do our part in this effort to stay at home and show care for others. As an employer, that dull ache in my stomach started in early March — knowing the realistic path this pandemic would likely take. I could barely say the words when I told the first staff member to apply for unemployment. Thankfully, we can maintain health insurance coverage and confirm everyone’s job upon return when it is safe for all.

At week seven, the dull ache remains, sometimes bringing tears to my eyes out of frustration and anger. Yet, it is balanced with knowing our staff is OK and will be returning the moment we ask. Our customers have been as dedicated as ever with their words of encouragement and gift card purchases. They have even sent us special orders to pick up once we re-open. It shows us that what we do brings delight to these people.

These circumstances show the immensity of God and his love for us, which is beyond our imagination. We have all witnessed generosity and help. Compassion and care show more everyday as our fast-paced lives are brought to a stop. My belief in God and his care for us is, thankfully, a constant. He knows the heart and mind of us all. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. (Lamentations 3:26 The Message)

I look forward to the day when our city is robust again. The new opportunities are like a hidden treasure. It gives us all a chance to refresh what we are doing and ask ourselves how we are benefitting the common good. Our staff are creative, hard-working people who play an enormous part in the joy we bring to customers. The very least we can do is to support and encourage them by providing a nurturing environment for training and development that expands their knowledge and experience. We are all returning with a new perspective, and I can anticipate this new strength will contribute to the lives of others in the best of ways.

SENIOR STORIES

The mandated lockdown caused by the pandemic hit SPU seniors hard. Without much warning, the trajectory of their last year changed. The classes and graduation they planned to attend in person moved online. And they lost the chance to bid farewell to professors face-to-face, or take one last stroll through Tiffany Loop or alongside the Washington Ship Canal. Some students stayed on campus, moving to sparsely populated residence halls and obeying social distancing rules, while the majority moved home — abruptly ending their time at Seattle Pacific and in Seattle. SPU is doing everything it can to make graduation special. However, as Madison Zurcher said, “a commemorative box can’t give us back that experience we are missing out on, nor the needed closure on this chapter in our lives.”

To honor graduates and their experiences, we asked five graduating seniors to share about what this spring has been like for them.

mysonne

Mysonne Brown, a global development studies major, opted to stay on campus in Emerson Hall, while home is in Renton, Washington.

What is it like to live on campus during Spring Quarter 2020?

Emerson Hall is not very full, as every student is designated to one whole dorm room, and many do not share bathrooms with another student for social distancing regulations. The food is great, and the chefs are doing a wonderful job!

I am extremely social, so this has been a weird moment of life to not have the Student Union Building and on-campus activities to feed this trait of mine. I am quickly learning to adjust! I have spent much of my time thinking about how I want to continuously grow my passion for social advocacy and social work, and this time to think and process has been pivotal in helping me decide where I want to put my energy after graduation.

How do you feel about graduation being moved online?

I can understand both sides. From the student perspective, it’s disappointing. We have worked tirelessly for all our lives to reach that final moment of the graduation ceremony. It is not solely about the degree for many of us (especially first-generation students like myself). It is about showing our families, peers, and loved ones that we were able to reach such a pivotal milestone in our early adult lives, representing various cultural accomplishments.

What’s helping you to still feel connected to others?

The friends I have on campus are deeply wonderful people. Truthfully, they keep me sane during these times. I could not imagine trying to navigate social distancing without them. Feeling connected to everything happens whenever I head outside for some longboarding around the neighborhood, as it is a good reminder that everything will pass, and that the world is not melting around us.

Gabe

Gabe Colosimo, psychology and business administration major, was a Falcon basketball player who was looking forward to “being a normal college student for one final quarter.”

What has the transition been like from SPU to living at home in Sandy, Utah?

The biggest transition for me has been scheduling out my days. Being at home all day makes me feel like I need to always be working on school or job applications or whatever. Rather than waking up and feeling anxious about what I could and should be doing, I have been making daily checklists that have helped me be productive and still have time for myself.

How has this changed your plans post-graduation?

I had a position at a college to help them coach, but there is no longer a paid position. As of now, it looks like I will be volunteering my first year out of college. To be fair, in my desired profession, this is not that uncommon, but still is unfortunate.

How have you been able to connect with professors?

I do not feel as connected to my professors, which is a bummer because I really like who I am taking classes with this quarter. I think my professors this quarter are great people, and I was looking forward to building a relationship with them.

How has this changed how you feel about your SPU experience?

I won’t have those memories of the final weekend with my friends and saying goodbye, but other than that it has not tainted my view of SPU.

madison

Global development major Madison Zurcher spent Autumn Quarter studying abroad in Ecuador and is now living at home near Portland, Oregon.

What has it been like to transition from being on campus to learning at home?

Outside of classes themselves, I miss all the little things about being on campus, like working in the Study Abroad office and at the information desk, meeting up with friends, chatting with professors in passing, and enjoying Seattle. The hardest part of the transition for me was how suddenly it all happened. I was home for spring break and then all the sudden I was packing up my apartment and moving home for the foreseeable future.

How do you feel relationships with students have changed and/or stayed the same? What’s helping you to still feel connected to others?

It has been fun getting creative in finding ways to connect with friends, like sending snail mail or Marco Polo videos, while scheduled Facetime calls give me something to look forward to during the week. It’s definitely sad not being together for our last quarter of school, and while I look forward to visiting everyone once this is over, some of my friends live out of state so I know it may be awhile before I can visit them. This makes not having an in-person graduation even harder.

How has this affected your job search?

Funny you ask, as my plans in regards to post-grad jobs were solidified recently. I applied for an office coordinator position at a nonprofit back in the beginning of March while I was still at SPU. I've had several interviews for the position remotely over the past couple months, and was offered the job at the beginning of May. I will be starting training and on-boarding part-time and remotely while I finish up school, and then will dive into full-time work in June. The organization is close to my home in Oregon, so I was initially nervous about not being able to move home until June once I graduated. It really has worked out in the most perfect way. It definitely feels like a God thing to have all the pieces of this complicated puzzle fall so perfectly into place for me. I feel very grateful, as a lot of my friends are struggling with lining up work post-grad due to the uncertainty of the circumstances.

kenneth

Kenneth Kao, a business administration major, was already living at home in Bellevue and commuting into Queen Anne to attend classes.

What has it been like to transition to online classes?

I certainly do not miss the commute. However, there are a couple of difficulties regarding use of technology and the loss of face-to-face interactions with professors and peers. Difficulties aside, SPU has done a remarkable job with the transition. All professors have been trained in the use of technologies to a reasonable extent and even resources like the academic planning advisors are available online.

How do you feel about having a virtual graduation?

Virtual graduation does seem like the right decision to make, considering the circumstances. However I don't think I will be participating. It just does not have the same gravitas. Nevertheless, I am just happy to graduate.

How is the process of looking for internships?

At this point most anything will do so long as I can get that foot in the door and gain some real-world experience. The application process hasn’t changed too much from before but there are uncertainties whether the internship will still happen if the virus extends into the summer. I have been focusing on listings that look like they can be performed virtually, just in case.

matt huff

Matthew Huff, an economics major, is living with his family in the small town of Carbonado, Washington, which is the last town before entering Mount Rainier National Park.

What’s it like to learn at home?

Online classes are pretty weird, but I have been able to get more work done and have more free time now that classes are online. I no longer stress about getting to campus and going to class in person. As a senior with a lot of projects to do before I graduate, I've been very thankful for that fact. I am also very close to my family and the type of person to visit home a lot during a normal quarter, so being at home has been a comfort through all of this.

How are you able to keep up relationships?

I'm lucky to have a few professors that I am close with and am able to talk to, but it's different not being there in person. It makes my senior projects tougher too, as it's harder to work with faculty readers on my capstone and honors projects. Thankfully, I have a few very close friends in my honors and capstone courses dealing with the same things. Keeping in touch with them has been really nice.

How has this affected your SPU experience?

I don't really think this has affected my overall SPU experience all that much. I'm thankful to have been able to have three years and two quarters of an SPU experience already, and being a part of the senior class during this time has at least made my quarter a lot more interesting and given me a great story to tell.

labrie

ON BUILDING AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN BUSINESS

By Ryan C. LaBrie, Professor of Management and Information Systems

While COVID-19 has caused SPU’s School of Business, Government, and Economics to pivot rather quickly, work has quietly been taking place for over a year on the ideation, initiation, and development of a fully online version of our Master’s of Science in Data Analytics for Business degree, more commonly known as MS-DAB.

We are studying research on best practices to create a robust online learning environment. For example, we are designing a common launching point for the students to go to, a portal if you will, where access will be granted to everything students need in support of obtaining their degree. Yes, there will be links to the various courses they will complete, but there will also be common content areas such as a social corner to facilitate learning with faculty and student peers.

Furthermore, there will be a one-stop location for library, mentorship, counseling, practicum, and other graduate university resources. Once enrolled in the classes, the students will find a similar look and feel to each class. Common templates, color schemes, fonts, and other user-interface experiences will be utilized so the students feel like they are in and part of a common program versus just being signed up for 15 different classes.

Finally, the faculty that are teaching in this environment are committing to the golden principles of online learning, which require the following three connections each week: 1) student-to-material interaction, 2) student-to-instructor interaction, and 3) student-to-student interaction. As the development team, we feel that if we stay true to these principles, then we will honor and value the online student just as well as we honor our in-person students, and that this program will provide the same high-level, high-touch, relational, and ethics-based education that our students have come to expect in our traditional graduate degree offerings. If you’re interested in our MS-DAB program, apply by August 1.

Events

Gary Locke

FORMER GOVERNOR GARY LOCKE SPEAKS TO STUDENTS

We were honored to welcome Gary Locke to campus for The Burton and Ralene Walls Distinguished Speakers Series on February 13, 2020. Locke, who has served as the governor of Washington, the U.S. secretary of commerce, and the U.S. ambassador to China, spoke on “The State of our State: A Condundrum – Optimism and Angst.”

SBGE honors Alumni of the Year

In February, we honored SBGE Alumnus of the Year Mike Milojevich ’99 and SBGE Young Alum Veronica Cook ’10.

SBGE Alumni of the Year

Mike Milojevich is principal and lead advisor at Highland Private Wealth Management. Over the course of his career, he has developed special expertise in working with technology executives and entrepreneurs, public company executives, and families with multi-generational wealth.

Veronica Cook was an audit senior manager at Peterson Sullivan, where she managed around 50 clients a year. She covered a range of services, such as audits and financial statement compilations and reviews. Cook was promoted to assurance senior manager last year.

Annual event welcomes new SBGE students

SBGE welcomed more than 160 students into the School of Business, Government, and Economics this winter at the New Majors Dessert on February 11. The average GPA of the new majors is 3.4 — making SBGE one of the highest performing schools on campus.

Austin premier of Season 2 films for Faith & Co.

Season 2 films of Faith & Co: Serving Employees had a premiere event in Austin, Texas, in March. Executive Producer Denise Daniels showed a selection of the films and interviewed a panel of film subjects about their reactions to seeing their company and its story on screen. This season focuses on how faith-driven businesses can positively impact the lives of employees. Companies from Seattle, Denver, and Edgerton (Wisconsin) were profiled in the event, which included Canlis (“Becoming”), Activate Workforce Solutions (“Second Chances”), L&R Pallets (“In the People Business”), and Edgerton Gear (“Turning”). 

First virtual Social Venture Plan Competition is a success

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th annual Social Venture Plan Competition (SVPC) went on as planned, this time in a virtual environment on April 22. Student teams developed solutions to real-world problems, while pitching their ideas through documents, slide decks, videos, and live video conferences. The top projects this year focused on issues related to extreme climates and environments, a fitting metaphor for the current situation.

Team Safa Himal, winners of the 2020 SVPC competition

The winning team was Safa Himal, chosen as the $5,000 Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize winner by the combined votes of 67 judges representing business, nonprofit, academic, and professional communities. Bountifull came in second, winning the $3,000 runner-up award. Over the course of the day, a record-breaking 1,300 people logged on to the public Showcase site and voted for their favorite project, giving the Donald B. Summers People’s Choice award of $1,000 to Tutorly.

Farewells

Two beloved SBGE faculty members, Brad Murg and Helen Chung, are moving on to different positions in the fall.

Brad Murg

Brad Murg, assistant professor of political science, will be moving to Phnom Penh full time to serve as senior fellow at the Cambodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace, and work as senior advisor to Future Forum, a think tank supported by the Open Society Institute and the governments of Sweden and Australia.

Helen Chung

Helen Chung , assistant professor of management, will be moving over to the School of Psychology, Family, and Community as an assistant professor of industrial and organizational psychology in the fall. 

Both Murg and Chung will be missed and we wish them the best in their new endeavors.