Black and White: A colorful profile of a GU professor
With a Ph.D., an MBA and work experience on three continents, Chris Stevens, director of the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, is overqualified for just about everything. To his students and colleagues, though, he’s just Chris. He has taken his extensive experience and put it to work helping Hogan students find their own paths to success. He teaches them that entrepreneurship is not a way to make lots of money, but a way to change the world.
In a world where successful tech companies seem to come out of nowhere, Stevens reminds his students that it took Thomas Edison a thousand tries to invent the lightbulb. “We act like successful entrepreneurs came out of nowhere,” he said. “In
ctuality, they work their behinds off all the time.”
Stevens does, too. Since his arrival at Gonzaga in 2009, he has taught 10 different courses and produced five articles for peer-reviewed publications and four conference presentations. Last spring he was named among Gonzaga’s exemplary faculty. He is fascinated by failure and how people, especially entrepreneurs, can learn and move on from their failures. Stevens believes
that there is no single kind of person who makes a successful entrepreneur. All it takes is a good idea and a willingness to push for it, a lesson he strives to instill in his entrepreneurial leadership students.
“We spend too much time thinking about processes and business plans,” he explained. “What we should be thinking about is how to get other people as passionate about our ideas as we are. It’s all about relationships and good ideas.”
A colleague, Peggy Sue Loroz, associate protessor in marketing, sees Steves this way: “Chris has a generous spirit. He is
always willing to set aside his work and dig out his resources. He’ll always ask, ‘How’s that project coming? I’m here all afternoon if you need help,’ and goes out of his way to make sure I know he’s there for support. “He supports his students to the same degree, particularly their career development. He goes out of his way to find out who they are and where they are going with their lives professionally. Chris also understands, teaches and lives the idea that business can play a really important role in promoting
Student Ryan Lojo (’13), describes his view of Professor Stevens: “Right away, Chris laid out his expectations and, due to the Hogan program, they were high. He said he would be blunt and honest with us. Then he said, ‘We have the responsibility to get you to the point where you can either perform any job in the best possible way, or you can change the world.’ That was our first day.
“Chris gave me great backing last year when I applied for a social entrepreneurship internship for part of the summer in South Africa. I came to see him about the project because I was concerned whether I would be a constructive team member. A lot of the other students in Capetown were from schools with these great, big business programs – Notre Dame, Connecticut, the University of Miami. In the end, I went, and I was a productive member of the team. It was Chris who made me see that I had the skills to do it.”
Lojo of Casper, Wyo., is a business administration major, with concentrations in international business, economics and
Student Kate Catlin (’13), says, “The first day that we did ‘creativity exercises’ in our entrepreneurship class, I wondered if I had entered the wrong entrepreneurship program. Instead of learning pitching skills, we solved riddles. Yet by the end of the session, I had learned more about critical thinking in the entrepreneurial world than should be possible in one hour. Each riddle or “outside-the-box” question had a deeper lesson about mind-set and innovation. It was clear at that moment and increasingly so throughout the semester that Stevens was a creative and thoughtful professor who would teach me more than any other professor that year.
“Thanks to experiences that Dr. Stevens steered me toward and supported me through, I hope to devote my life’s work to social enterprise and development. I know multiple students who have turned to him for advice on big projects, like international internships. He is always a listening ear with a wise tongue, for all class, career and life goal questions.”
Seattle native Catlin served as a U.S. youth representative in 2011 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.