Date: Friday, October 12, 2012, 3:00am PDT
Save for Australia and Antarctica, Scott Marshall has spent time on pretty much every continent around the world.
Born in Silverton, Marshall – who’s now associate dean for graduate programs at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration – was an exchange student and, after earning his bachelor’s in business economics from Willamette University in 1989, an English instructor in Japan.
He got his master’s in international affairs from George Washington University in 1993 and worked for a nonprofit in Russia. He then went to Latin America for his doctoral research before landing back in Oregon at PSU, with a doctorate in international strategy from the University of Oregon, in 1999.
His time abroad – in more than 40 countries – has influenced Marshall’s outlook as well as the graduate programs he now oversees at Portland State.
“It has really helped shape how I view most of my work,” he said.
As associate dean, Marshall essentially oversees the program directors for PSU’s various MBA offerings and other niche programs, and he’s involved in everything from recruiting and marketing to career advising and placement.
According to PSU’s latest figures, 204 students were enrolled in the business school’s graduate programs in fall 2011. The business school is home to a faculty of 45 tenured and 17 full-time members, and alumni numbers as of 2010 topped 20,000.
Along with his colleagues, Marshall also plays an important role in shaping the graduate programs.
“Primarily, I have to ensure that we are ... creating an excellent experience for students, innovating curricula across programs and continuing to understand what the business community is expecting of students,” said Marshall, who also teaches a course at PSU.
Mehran Nikkhoo came to Portland State from his native Iran three-and-a-half years ago. Whereas many master’s programs focus heavily on either finance or accounting, Nikkhoo said he chose PSU’s master of science in financial analysis because of its solid mix of the two. He got to know Marshall via email even before he arrived to start classes.
“Dr. Marshall was very genuine and very friendly, especially toward the international students,” Nikkhoo said, adding that about half of the students in his program were from other countries. “That made the transition that much easier.”
Now a finance planning manager for Nike Inc., Nikkhoo said Marshall also helped point him in the right direction for networking, internships and other opportunities.
“His attitude and friendliness catches everyone’s attention,” he said.
In addition to the current graduate offerings at PSU, Marshall and his colleagues have been working on two proposed programs that, upon official approval, should be implemented for fall 2013.
First is a new MBA in global supply chain management. Marshall said suggestions for that came directly from regional business leaders connected to the school’s Business Advisory Council.
He also said the new degree promises to deliver highly rigorous, quantitative analytical skills, a focus on sustainability and, through the second proposed program, a required global experience.
Portland State already offers five two-week optional international experiences that find MBA students learning in places like China, France, Germany and Nicaragua. Marshall said about 40 percent of MBA students participate in the programs now, but he and others want to make it mandatory.
“People have realized that it can’t be optional anymore,” he said. “MBA students have to have a good sense of global economics and cultural significance. It’s just a necessary part of business today.”
Although the requirement would likely raise tuition slightly, Marshall said the university is doing what it can to limit the impact. It will also offer a regional option to accommodate students for whom an extended international trip may not be feasible.
“I think it would be a great opportunity to get people outside of the local business community and see how other cities are doing things,” said Kylene Fickenscher, a sustainability analyst with the energy management company Ecova Inc.
A 2010 graduate of the MBA program at PSU, Fickenscher said she was drawn to PSU in part by the way it incorporates sustainability. Fickenscher said Marshall took an active interest in her final project, which conducted a life-cycle assessment for the Portland bakery Dave’s Killer Bread. The two kept in touch, and Marshall recently invited Fickenscher to teach a corporate sustainability class at PSU.
“Scott recognizes the importance of creating strong networks for students,” she said. “He just does a fabulous job of creating all kinds of opportunities.”
Scott Marshall teaches part of the PSU course called Global Business, Society and Ecology.