Getting to know the new dean: Q&A with Jeffery Steagall



SOURCE: WEBER.EDUWeber State University’s Goddard School of Business recently announced the selection of its new dean, Jeffery Steagall, who began his post in early May.

Q:  What is your educational background?

A:  I have a Bachelor of Arts in math and economics from St. Norbert College, and my master’s and Ph.D. are from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, both in economics.

Q:  What got you started in business and economics?

A:  I first got excited about economics from my introduction to macroeconomics teacher at St. Norbert. It was very much an issues-based course and got me thinking about how important it is to understand economics, and I wanted to understand the world.

Q:  What were you doing before coming to WSU?

A:  I was at the University of North Florida for 21 years. That’s where I went after graduating with my Ph.D. I did my whole faculty career there, from associate professor to tenure, all the way up through full professor. I was named the University Distinguished Professor, which was pretty cool, and came with a parking spot for a year. Then I was associate dean for three years, but I think the thing that people will remember most is that I ran the international business program from a fledgling program up until 2006, when it became one of four flagship programs at UNF.

Q:  Why did you come to WSU?

A:  I was interested in taking the next step in my career, which was to be a dean, and I wanted a place where teaching was really important, but also a place where research was respected and expected, and that seemed to be a very good fit with the Goddard School at Weber State.

Q:  What are some of your plans or hopes for the department?

A:  Business school is doing lots of wonderful things, but I think not enough people know about it. I certainly want to work on the recognition and reputation of the school, but I also think that, in order to do that on a national scale, we need to identify a focus area or theme or area of expertise for the business school. That’s what we will be working on very hard during the fall semester. Some things that have come up among the faculty and business people in the community are entrepreneurship, sustainability and internationalization. We have to figure out what that is, then we have to put some time, energy and resources into getting ourselves really well known for it. Weber State can be on the national map if we do this right.

Q:  What do you think of WSU so far?

A:  I’ve really enjoyed it. I told the president that it really is what it advertises to be. I’ve been there almost two months now, and I haven’t found anything that really wasn’t true from the job interviews. People were very open and honest about the good stuff and the needs to be addressed, and that makes me very comfortable. You can get a lot of stuff done if you just know what the truth is.

Q:  What would you like students to know?

A:  They should know that I am accessible, I’m very much an open-door guy, so if they want to stop in just to say hi or to talk to me about ideas that they have about what we could do to make the school better, I’ll be happy to hear those things.