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STEPHENVILLE (August 12, 2015) — To hear the new dean of Tarleton State University’s College of Business Administration tell it, his journey to the top is filled with happenstance. But when the Texas A&M System Board of Regents today officially approved Dr. Steve A. Steed’s appointment, it was every bit as intentional as Tarleton’s push to extend its academic offerings and to gain accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
“Dr. Steed is a man of great values,” says Tarleton President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio. “He values education. He values students. He values community. These values align perfectly with our strategic plan—Tarleton 2020: Student Focused-Value Driven. I have every confidence that Dr. Steed will help us become even more responsive to the changing needs of the 21st century, moving us to the forefront of business administration education and research and positioning us for AACSB accreditation.”
The College of Business Administration this fall will boast an enrollment close to 3,000 students at Tarleton’s Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and Global campuses. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in all things business, from accounting to economics to human resource management to computer information systems.
That’s not always been the case.
When Steed landed his first teaching job at Tarleton back in the early ’70s, the College of Business was located on the third floor of the agricultural building in Stephenville. Tarleton’s total enrollment hovered around 1,700, and most students were either returning from Viet Nam or headed that way. That first assignment, according to Steed, was the beginning of several “coincidences” that opened the door to his new position after 44 years at the university.
“I was getting married and finishing my master’s when Tarleton’s head of business contacted my graduate advisor at Hardin-Simmons University and my undergraduate advisor at McMurry College looking for a faculty member to begin teaching accounting classes in the middle of summer,” Steed recalls. “Unaware that the other had been called, both advisors recommended me and asked if I’d ever considered teaching. That was definitely a twist of fate. I never expected to teach, especially accounting. My eyes were on Dallas and putting my degrees in general business and marketing to use in the private sector.”
Steed promised Tarleton two years, and then he and wife Mary—from Chicago—planned to move north. That didn’t happen. Mary, a Tarleton volleyball player and later coach, fell in love with Stephenville and the university.
Fact is, Steed met Mary (accidentally, he says), long before they moved to Stephenville, when he was coaching volleyball and she was competing. He likes to tell people he picked her up at the airport because that’s exactly what happened. She flew in from Chicago for the NORCEA International Volleyball Tournament in Mexico City. Part of his job was to meet athletes as they arrived.
“I’d take accounting classes at Tarleton one semester and teach them the next,” Steed says of those early years. “Then, I ended up earning my doctorate in accounting at the University of North Texas. Who would have thought?”
Computers were new on the scene, and Steed was one of the first Tarleton faculty members to own one. That “accident”—as he calls it—led to a 30-year stint as chairman of the university’s Computer Services Committee. When Tarleton opened its first microcomputer labs in the ’80s, Steed helped get more PCs for university dollars by convincing participating departments to order the same unassembled units and put them together on arrival. Faculty members unloaded the truck, received training on assembly, and three computer labs were created.
“I’m sure I hold the record for the number of interim administrative positions held at Tarleton,” Steed says. “Five in all, four times as a department head and once as dean.” His six-month interim as a director of Tarleton’s Center for Agribusiness Excellence in 2002 turned into a two-year stay.
One of his first jobs come November is to file Tarleton’s eligibility for AACSB accreditation. AACSB endorsement represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. Less than 5 percent of the world’s 13,000 business programs have earned AACSB approval.
“While Tarleton is sanctioned by the ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs), certification by the AACSB will make Tarleton graduates more desirable to employers,” Steed explains. “The university will enjoy greater access to the business community and increased potential for national, even international, research collaboration.”
In addition to his long tenure at Tarleton, Steed has served the Stephenville community as a board member of Texas Health Resources, the Optimist Club and as a university volleyball coach. His 15-year stint with Texas Health Resources (board chairman from 2011-2014) inspired current research on the availability of health care providers in rural Texas counties.
“My heart is here—in Stephenville, in Texas,” he explains. “If I can make the world a better place for Tarleton students or the folks who call this area home, then I can say my efforts have been worthwhile.”
Serving the Stephenville Optimist Club for 28 years, Steed helped bump the group’s annual fundraiser from $15,000 to $40,000 and—of course—computerize the accounting process.
For more information on Tarleton, visit www.tarleton.edu.
To learn more about Tarleton’s College of Business Administration, go to www.tarleton.edu/COBAWEB/coba/index.html.