Shareholders November 2016

Ross Stewart

Dean’s Report

It’s great to be in touch with all of you through this newsletter. I wish I could have connected face to face with each one of you at the Grand Reunion festivities here on campus last month. Our main topic of discussion at the SBGE alumni breakfast was how we can engage with you in a lifelong learning relationship. The discussion generated a lot of good ideas and we are looking forward to “putting some legs” to those in the near future. I also had the privilege of announcing our Alumna of the Year and Young Alumnus of the Year at the breakfast. I hope you will enjoy reading about these wonderful alums, and that you will respond to us with your nominations for next year!

In this issue we highlight our mentoring program, housed in the Center for Applied Learning (CAL), as a critical, high-impact learning experience that can be weaved into an SBGE education. You can also read about the benefits of mentoring our students from Mark Oppenlander, director of CAL.

Finally, there are some changes in SBGE this year. I’ve noted faculty and staff transitions and have listed new initiatives I think you will find particularly interesting. As always, I would value your feedback.

Ross Stewart Signature

Ross Stewart, Dean
School of Business, Government, and Economics

Alums of the Year

Alumni of the year were announced at our breakfast on Saturday, October 8, during SPU’s Grand Reunion weekend, where we enjoyed wonderful connections.

Congratulations to Alumna of the Year for 2016, Kathleen Smith Cummins ’81, and to our Young Alumnus of the Year for 2016, Brian Biege ’06.

Kathleen Smith Cummins Kathleen is a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, where she leads The Cummins Group as managing partner. A frequent speaker on topics such as personal finance, budgeting for success, and faith, finances, and giving, Kathleen is a model for contributing to SBGE and Seattle Pacific. She has served in many areas including as an SBGE Executive Advisory Board member and on SPU’s Board of Trustees. She and her husband, Scott (also a huge supporter of SBGE and SPU), have been longtime sponsors of the Social Venture Plan Competition. Parents of two children, they love to interact with young people and regularly mentor them informally.

Brian Biege Our Young Alumnus of the Year for 2016 is Brian Biege ’06, a first vice president at CBRE, where he has spent the last 10 years in commercial real estate. He leads both the Technology and Public Institutions Practices for CBRE in the Northwest. He also serves as a member of the Executive Advisory Board and is on the Board of Youth for Christ. He supports Rescue: Freedom International, mentors at the University of Washington and SPU, and is a contributor to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Brian and his wife, Liz Weyrick Biege ’06, have three young children.

We would love to hear your nominations for one or both of these awards for the upcoming 2017 year. (The Young Alum of the Year should be no more than about 10 years out from graduation.)

These awards seek to honor SBGE alums who exemplify:

  • Excellence in their field
  • Living out Christian faith and mission
  • Service to SBGE
  • Service to the world

Send your nominations to, where they will be reviewed by a selection committee.

The Benefits of Mentoring

The SPU Mentor Program turns 20 years old in January 2017. Over the course of those 20 years, the Center for Applied Learning has placed more than 3,500 students with mentors or job shadow hosts.

“I am often asked to describe the mentoring relationship,” says Mark Oppenlander, director of CAL. “At its simplest, mentoring is a developmental relationship where a person with more experience or expertise provides information, advice, support, and role modeling to a younger or less experienced individual — in our case, an SPU student. These four components are not the only benefits of mentoring, but they often form the core of the experience.”

Most mentoring starts with the exchange of information. Students have questions and mentors (hopefully) have answers. Says senior nursing major Erica Buzbee, “The program gave me an opportunity to get answers to real questions that only someone in the field could honestly answer.”

After information comes advice. As students meet more frequently with their mentors and develop a reciprocal relationship, the mentor may feel ready to offer specific feedback or coaching. “After three meetings, I made the realization that accounting was not for me," says Josiah Cunningham, a senior majoring in business administration. “Even with the change [he] was supportive and continued to be my mentor. The topic of our discussion switched from accounting to important lessons in life and growing as a professional.”

In some cases, young professionals most need support and encouragement. A mentor who has invested in a student over a period of time may be able to offer that. Deborah Shepherd, a 2016 communication grad, explains: “I grew more confident approaching professionals, and I realized the worst thing they can do is say ‘no.’ But often times, they truly want to help you succeed. [My mentor] was a huge support in helping me continue writing my fashion and spirituality blog.”

And of course, mentees often learn just through observing. “I was able to draw some similarities from [my mentor’s] past decisions to things that are going on in my life and that will potentially happen in the future,” remembers Cunningham. A good mentor can serve as a role model for professional behavior and future decision making.

One guiding principle for the SPU Mentor Program over the years has been that mentoring is a student-driven learning experience. For that reason, we work hard to customize placements to meet each student’s learning goals, recruiting new mentors on a regular basis. Abigail Wiersma, a senior in SPU’s individual and family development major commented, “The questions asked at my interview prior to be being placed were quite extensive, and for that reason, I was so sure I would be placed with an effective match. My expectations were high. Even so, my level of satisfaction far exceeds my expectations! I am just blown away by how much I was able to learn from this experience.”

Developmental relationships matter, and helping students get connected to the professional resources they need for information, advice, support, and role modeling is a priority at the Center for Applied Learning. As long as there is a need for mentoring, we have every reason to believe that the SPU Mentor Program will be there — for the next 20 years and beyond.

New Initiatives

  • “Champion” level involvement with the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) platform. This gives SBGE the architecture to address issues of business-led human flourishing in collaboration with government and civil society. It also gives focus to our desire to integrate our school’s disciplines by addressing the Sustainable Development Goals; and helps prepare our students for a cross-sector, multi-functional, interconnected world with moral courage and theological imagination.
  • Entrepreneurship is an important inter-disciplinary concept that has continued emphasis through our social enterprise curricula and the Social Venture Plan Competition. This year we are offering an Innovation Lab examining issues of homelessness, inequality, and human trafficking. We are broadening the appeal to students of all majors to imagine customer-funded solutions to these issues.
  • SBGE is developing our first MOOC (Massive Open Online Learning Course) this year on faith and business. The aim is to leverage faculty expertise around this distinctive topic and extend our reach into the marketplace of ideas to affirm business-led human flourishing by addressing God’s purpose for business and how it can be practiced in light of the common good. This will also provide an opportunity to explore new platforms for instructional design and delivery.
  • We are building out more “high-impact” learning experiences for our students. These include two study abroad experiences to Europe and New Zealand, and engaging students in finance-case competitions, in addition to our mentoring and internship programs.

Faculty and Staff Changes

Regina SchleeRegina Schlee, professor of marketing, has decided not to continue in the role of associate dean for assessment, accreditation, and faculty development. This role was created a little over a year ago under our previous SBGE dean. We are so grateful for Regina’s willingness to step into that role when it was created, and for the hard work she has done on our behalf. She will continue providing faculty leadership development for SBGE. The leadership/coordination for the elements of assessment and accreditation are being reassigned.

Denise DanielsDenise Daniels, professor of management, has asked to transition out of the role of associate dean for undergraduate studies. Denise has served in this role with excellence for nine years and has kept the program moving forward in a season of rapid change and complex challenges. We are deeply grateful for her service. This academic year, at the request of the provost and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences-Division of Arts and Humanities, Denise will serve part-time as chair of the Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics Department. We wish her all the best in this new role, and are grateful that she is still part of the SBGE team.

Kim SawersWe are pleased to welcome Kim Sawers, professor of accounting, to the position of associate dean for undergraduate studies. Kim has a long and distinguished history with SPU. She served as controller and then as director of finance before earning a PhD in accounting and teaching at University of California, Riverside — from where she was persuaded to return to SPU as part of the accounting faculty. Kim has an interesting and impressive bio, and has certainly demonstrated the skills needed to serve with distinction in this new role.

Robin ShulerWith both Dr. Stewart and Dr. Sawers moving out of full-time teaching roles in accounting (both still teach some) and into administrative roles in SBGE, we have needed to hire new faculty in the Accounting discipline. We are happy to introduce Robin Shuler, who has been hired for one year as an accounting instructor. Robin has over 25 years of experience in a variety of industries and businesses, and loves interacting in the classroom. We are excited to offer this combination of real-world experience and love of teaching to our students.

This summer brought three staff transitions. In July, our professional development specialist, Daniel Hallak, and our half-time budget manager, Jared Wymer, completed milestones in their education here at SPU and moved on to other opportunities. Also, our librarian of several years, Cindy Strong, was assigned to other areas of the University. We are grateful for their service and wish them the best in their new roles. We were able to hire for all three positions without any gap and are excited to introduce you to our new staff members.

Allison ScreenAllison Screen is our new half-time budget manager. Allison recently moved to Seattle from Maryland to pursue a master’s in Industrial–Organizational Psychology at SPU. She has handled the learning curve of this demanding role with grace, skill, and resourcefulness. We are very pleased to have her as part of the SBGE community.

Allison ScreenLeah Hannaford, business and social sciences librarian, holds a master’s degree in library and information studies from Florida State University. She served in the U.S. Army and is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her professional work includes establishing economic development programs in the Horn of Africa, understanding social media and its influences on migrant populations, and researching the information-seeking behavior of veterans of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Janine ThornJanine Thorn, professional development program manager, brings extensive experience in the marketing and public relations field, as well as significant community service. Her approach is marked by contagious enthusiasm and a deep personal desire to help students find their path. Janine is working diligently to build community ties and would love to interact with you!

Graduate programs

Be sure to explore our graduate program offerings and pass the information along those who are interested in advancing their readiness for more responsibility and impact.