Shareholders February 2016

Shareholders from the School of Business, Government and Economics

Ross Stewart


What Part Do We Play?

Scale can be a very difficult thing to comprehend. What does it mean to be a singular person on a planet of over seven billion people? In December I had the privilege of accompanying our MAM-SSM (Master of Arts in Management with an emphasis on Social and Sustainable Management) students to China and India.

The trip prompted our students to ask at least two interesting questions. “What part do I play, not only in relation to my own immediate Seattle community, but also within the world at large?” And “What role do greater global systems in all their messy independency, play in my life?”

India and China helped our students approach the second question and see that global systems of trade, finance, health, migration, politics, and energy, variably and inequitably, affect the lives of everyone on the planet. But they also prompted our students to reflect on the perhaps more difficult task of envisioning themselves and their future roles at the crux of these different systems, where their actions are affected by, and can have impact in, far-flung contexts such as India and China.

SBGE Students and Faculty in Asia

Global learning is indeed critical to preparing our students for a complex, interconnected and interdependent world. Global learning had at least three dimensions for the MAM-SSM students as they visited multinationals such as Microsoft in Delhi, Amazon in Beijing, Nike in Shanghai, and small social ventures such as Varthana and Selco in Bangalore.

First, global learning meant engaging in the practice of self-reflection and moral imagination that involved cultural literacy, critical thinking, and humility. Second, it required our students to shift between scales of understanding, particularly the local and the global, between complex histories, colonial vestiges, international inequalities, technological change, and economics. Last, global learning developed a global sense of responsibility — a commitment to “love” the world. It’s something our own Dr. Bradley Murg discusses in this issue’s feature piece on the Syrian refugee crisis.

The MAM-SSM project for the Winter Quarter is to develop a customer-funded solution to a social issue. Our students are thinking about projects that are shaped by their recent global experience. The students are wrestling with the intersection of their lives at the points where global systems, technological change and localized issues collide to prompt innovative, compassionate, savvy, and sustainable responses. Global learning is an invitation to engage God’s world with humility, justice, and love. And business can give such engagement and empowering legs!

I invite you to check out our MAM-SSM degree.

Warm Regards,

Ross Stewart Signature

Ross Stewart, Interim Dean

Understanding the Refugee Crisis and How to Act

Assistant Professor of Business Bradley MurgIn 2001, Assistant Professor of Political Science Bradley Murg found himself working on a legal reform project in Peshawar, Pakistan. It was there that a colleague from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) asked him if he wanted to visit the Afghan refugee camps. Faced with the sheer number of people who had been living in these long-term camps, seeking refuge from the Taliban, Dr. Murg realized just how dire the situation really was. From then on, the plight of refugees and passion to take action became priorities for him.

His convictions line up with that of the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific (ASSP) student leaders, who launched The Refugee Initiative earlier this academic year to help educate students on the Syrian refugee crisis. So it only makes sense that last quarter, Dr. Murg would go “off syllabus” in one of his classes to discuss refugees and the misconceptions surrounding the issue. He describes the response he got from students as heartening, witnessing their passion firsthand. Their conversation highlighted some of the biggest problems facing individuals seeking asylum in the United States, including the lack of information around the entire process.

“This is actually a lengthy, multi-step process,” he says. “All refugees are first registered through the UNHCR at refugee camps. Subsequently, the U.S. government conducts basic interviews with refugees, and significant background checks are performed. It is not as though someone is simply randomly chosen from a list and sent to live in Minnesota. Rather it's a question of ensuring that these individuals are going to be able to acclimate to the United States and are not a threat to U.S. national security.”

To Dr. Murg, this is a message that is not getting across to the general public in discussion about refugees. Most misconceptions stem from images in the media of adult male refugees in Europe, raising concerns about who exactly is being let into the country. While he recognizes that no system is foolproof, he points to the statistics, which demonstrate that incoming refugees are primarily children and the elderly.

Murg is sympathetic to those who have qualms about accepting refugees, given the narrative to which many Americans have been exposed. Therefore, he thinks it is important to have the type of open dialogue that he has in his classes. These discussions help people understand the rigorous process that is resettlement. Furthermore, the United States is only taking in somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 refugees, a number much lower than the millions seeking refuge in other countries like Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. “It’s not a very large number, comparatively speaking,” Dr. Murg says. In fact, he calls it more of a symbolic gesture than anything else.

It’s not just the government’s role in the refugee crisis that is of concern to him, it’s the actions that should be taken by the church and by people on SPU’s campus. He’s quick to point out that some students are already stepping up. “We have students in the Global Development Studies major who are working and volunteering and interning in organizations that assist refugee families who have settled here,” Dr. Murg says. “They are basically acting as a bridge for families that have recently moved and are trying to get used to living in the state of Washington.”

These students are going beyond the normal bounds to engage with refugees in a direct and immediate manner. Dr. Murg believes that ASSP’s focus on the situation is a great move, and he thinks they will be effective, but there are additional ways in which he sees a need for our community to get involved, such as fundraising for and supporting of refugee resettlement organizations. “We could do more as an institution in support of this issue, inclusive of raising our voices as to the plight of fellow Christians in the Middle East and the unique challenges they face,” he says. “This is a Christian issue; this is an issue in which we must be involved.”

Dr. Murg will be participating in a student-led panel discussion about the refugee crisis on February 16 in Upper Gwinn, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. He will discuss his personal experiences alongside other faculty and will answer student questions. This event is for SPU students and faculty.

SBGE’s BEGIN Association will host a “Family Feud” fundraiser in March to support Syrian refugees. The money raised will contribute directly to education, food, and water. To learn more or to become a sponsor, visit their website.

SBGE Alumni Reunion

Just a reminder that alumni reunions this year will be part of the Grand Reunion inaugural event October 7–9, 2016.

Burt and Ralene Walls Distinguished Speaker Series

Dan PriceUpper Gwinn Commons was full of SBGE students November 17 to hear Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, share about his life, values, business, and goals for the future.

Raised in rural Idaho, Price founded the Seattle-based credit card processing company from his SPU dorm room when he was just 19 years old. Although music was his passion growing up, he discovered his life mission after seeing hard-working small business owners being overcharged and underserved by credit card processors. He built the company on the values of honesty and transparency — something which sets Gravity apart.

Price’s recent decision to raise his company's minimum salary to $70,000 has captured headlines and inspired millions worldwide. Today his 40-year goal is to help business focus on purpose and serving others.

“The speaker was upbeat and positive yet realistic in expectations regarding his business from start to finish. Also it was cool to see how he, as an alumnus, was shaped. Honestly Dan Price reminds me of students in the business program now. He is smart with his words, and well-rounded in a way that is hard to describe. [He is] very influential as well, by setting a standard and willingly sharing it despite consequences that may come.” – Student response

Watch a clip from his speech below:

Dean’s Speaker Series

Orlando AshfordOrlando Ashford, president of Holland America Lines, spoke to SBGE students October 27 about his story, his view of technology, and of human networks. As Holland America Line’s president, he oversees sales, marketing, revenue management, deployment, itinerary planning, public relations, hotel operations, and strategy. Earlier in his career he held executive positions at Coca-Cola, Motorola, and the global consulting firm Mercer. In 2014, he authored Talentism, a book which examines how technology and human networks can bridge skill gaps, enhance business performance, and improve society. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Organizational Leadership and Industrial Technology from Purdue University.

Watch a clip from his speech below:

Alumna Aditi Kulkarni: From Parallel Bars to Passing the Bar

Aditi KulkarniAditi Kulkarni attended SPU from 2008 to 2012 on a full-tuition scholarship (the University Scholar Award). During her time at SPU, she was a member and captain of the women’s gymnastics team, a four-time Scholastic All-American and USA Gymnastics Scholar Athlete Award recipient, and a four-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic selection. Kulkarni graduated summa cum laude in 2012 with a bachelor’s in Accounting and a minor in Mathematics.

Not ready to leave the educational world behind, and with the advice and encouragement of many trusted SPU professors, Kulkarni began law school at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the fall of 2012. While there, she was the class treasurer, a member of the Colorado Technology Law Journal, and a constitutional law teaching fellow. She also traveled to New Orleans during her third year to provide free legal aid to underprivileged communities. Kulkarni topped the Dean’s List almost every semester and graduated in the top 5 percent of her class, with Order of the Coif distinction.

Immediately upon graduating and after passing the bar exam in 2015, she accepted a job offer at the Denver office of Squire Patton Boggs (SPB), an international law firm with over 1,300 attorneys worldwide.

As an associate attorney at SPB, Kulkarni focuses her practice on complex civil litigation and regulatory compliance matters. She also recently published an article in the field of bankruptcy law.

Kulkarni credits much of her success in law school and her legal career to the foundational education she received at SPU. Her familiarity with clients’ financial statements and her thorough understanding of clients’ business goals stems from the SBGE’s core teachings and gives her an advantage in the legal profession. And thanks to SBGE faculty, she has created a network of legal and business professionals to whom she can turn for career guidance.

In addition to working as an associate attorney, Kulkarni enjoys mentoring business students and law students in order to help them reach their professional goals. She hopes she can give back to the SPU School of Business, Government, and Economics, and help mold the future generation of business and legal professionals.

The Work and Faith Collection Book Review

The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Selections from the classic work by Adam Smith
With a forward by C. William Pollard
BJ1006.S65 2009

The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith

As I perused the shelves of the Work and Faith Collection (a unique collection of over 1,600 items exploring the intersection of work, economics, business, and faith housed in SPU’s Ames Library) to search for something to review, I came across a book with Adam Smith’s name on it.

Smith, an 18th century moral philosopher and pioneer of political economy, is best known for his 1776 work, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Fewer, though, know of (or refer to) his earlier book, originally written in 1759: The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Or, an Essay Towards an Analysis of the Principles by Which Men Naturally Judge Concerning the Conduct and Character, First of Their Neighbors and Afterwards of Themselves. Long titles were the norm in the 18th century.

It is unfortunate that most people read Wealth of Nations and forget to attend to The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), for Smith intended the two books to be read in sequence. Further, Smith felt that the TMS was his most important work, so much so, that just before he died in 1790, he penned a major revision of this important book.

Lest you think I read all 546-plus pages of Adam Smith’s masterpiece, let me assure you otherwise. The focus of this book review is a 2009 essay titled, The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Selections From the Classic Work by Adam Smith. This short book (49 pages) provides excerpts of Parts III and VI from Smith’s larger tome.

In addition to the excerpts, there is a thoughtful foreword by William Pollard, chairman emeritus of The ServiceMaster Company. The focus of this review will be Pollard’s foreword, not Smith’s larger work. Before I review the foreword, however, it is important to provide a short bit of the context from Smith’s ideas. Parts III and VI of the TMS explore how our tendency towards self-centeredness is constrained by the “interest of others” and what they think about us. More specifically, Smith dissects these ideas:

  1. The tension between “praise and blame” (internal judge) and “praise-worthiness and blame-worthiness” (external judges) as it relates to humanity seeking virtue and the abhorrence of vice. Smith believed that “in every well-formed mind” the second set of desires (praise-worthiness and blame-worthiness) seems to be the strongest of the two, and more important for causing one to pursue virtue.
  2. The “impartial spectator’s” role in encouraging our concern for the well-being of others and constraining our self-centeredness. Smith felt that the impartial spectator creates a deep moral code that resides in all of humanity and that changes our actions towards others.

With these ideas in mind, let me address Pollard’s helpful foreword. Pollard sets the stage for the selected excerpts from Smith’s larger work. Pollard offers a succinct overview of Smith’s theories contained in the specific parts addressed in the book. Pollard then refers to Smith’s idea of an “ultimate authority beyond ourselves for determining moral judgements.”

But Pollard seems to suggest that Smith’s inability to name God as the “Ultimate Authority” is not enough to constrain our self-centered tendencies. Further, by not addressing God’s “standards of right and wrong, the reality of sin and the influence of evil and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ,” Smith does not go far enough with his theory.

Pollard then goes on to pose a question about the appropriateness of relying on Smith’s insistence that an “invisible hand” and an “impartial spectator” are the arbiters of moral conduct and exist to encourage the virtues of justice and benevolence. Clearly, Pollard is not fully satisfied with the applicability of Smith’s theory for today’s marketplace and suggests that, were Smith alive today, he would ask a different question. Pollard believes Smith would ask, “Can we expect the business firm to excel at producing goods and services, making a profit, and creating wealth for its shareholders, and also to be a moral community that develops human character?”

Pollard then seems to move beyond Smith’s theories by saying that there “needs to be a radical transformation in how business firms are led and also how future business leaders are taught.” He suggests that business leaders should be taught that it is the responsibility of the leader in business to encourage a “work environment that focuses on the dignity and worth of every person.”

Pollard concludes his foreword extending Smith’s theories by positing the idea that if executives “ignore their responsibility to lead and develop the business firm as a moral community, [they] do so at their peril.”

Despite the fact that Pollard sees some weaknesses in Smith’s theories, he still sees value in his theories. Thus, Pollard encourages leaders in business and government to reflect on Parts III and VI of Smith’s tome as they think about “what they believe and why they believe it and to know where they are going and why it is important for people to follow.”

If you don’t have time or the inclination to read TMS in its entirety, this booklet offers you a chance to focus on a more manageable chunk of Smith’s longer work. I suggest, however, that to get the most out of your time with this pamphlet, you should read the excerpts of Parts III and VI first and then go back and read Pollard’s foreword.

Review by Cindy Strong, Business and Economics library liaison