FHSS Alumnus to Serve as Dean of the Marriott School of Business

FHSS alumni have the potential to lead the world in many positions—including as the dean of the Marriott School of Business.

BYU Economics alumnus Brigitte C. Madrian was recently named as the ninth (and first female) dean of the Marriott School of Business. On January 1, 2019 she will begin her five-year term as dean over the Marriott School’s four graduate programs, ten undergraduate programs and approximately 3,300 students. Madrian is currently the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management and chair of the Markets, Business and Government Area in the Harvard Kennedy School.

Brigitte at big tableMadrian comes to this position with a myriad of experience and expertise. Through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from BYU and her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Madrian is an expert on behavioral economics and household finance. She has a specific focus on household saving and investment behavior, of which she spoke on in her 2016 FHSS Alumni Achievement Lecture. The work she has done in this field has changed the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation around the world. Madrian is also engaged in research on health and uses behavioral economics as a way to understand health behaviors and to improve health outcomes.

Because of her work and service, Madrian received the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and is a three-time recipient of the TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017). In addition to this, she serves as the co-director of the Household Finance working group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Madrian is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Board of Governors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Academic Research Council, as well as other advisory boards.

BYU Academic Vice President James R. Rasband remarks in an article that current Marriot School of Business Dean Lee T. Perry has left a “long record of setting aside his own passion for teaching and research to instead focus on providing opportunities for his colleagues and for our students.” Madrian will no doubt add to this legacy of service and learning with her own unique perspective and experience.

Alumni Spotlight: Neil Flinders

joseph-smith-art-lds-37715-galleryEducation is one of the most instrumental facets of society, and nobody knows that better than Neil Flinders. An alumnus and former faculty member of Brigham Young University, Flinders’ expertise involves education’s role in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. He has spent much of his retirement continuing to develop new ideas in the field, but one has become his principal focus. “After eight decades on this earth, you have a different perspective,” he says. “I think we need to pay more attention to Joseph Smith [as an educator].”

Flinders, in fact, published a book, entitled: Joseph Smith: America’s Greatest Educator, and delivered four lectures on the subject at BYU’s recent Education Week. “I am convinced,” he says, “that people living today can learn more about true education by studying the life and teachings of Joseph Smith than they can by studying all the books on education they might find in any library available to them.”

Joseph Smith Educator - Flyer

Joseph Smith, though not the recipient of much formal schooling, displayed an immense passion for education throughout his life. Apostle George Q. Cannon once remarked that the prophet “loved learning.” Shortly after his founding of the LDS Church, Smith began educating himself in many different languages, and even presided over a school of select Church leaders. “In knowledge there is power,” he taught. “God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge.”

This love for learning also manifested itself through Joseph’s revelations. Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations he received for the Church, states: “whatever principle of intelligence we attain in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.”  It also instructs us to “seek not for riches but for wisdom” and warns that “it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”

Virtually all of the doctrine of the early LDS Church, Flinders points out, followed a pattern: Joseph would learn a principle from God, and then teach that principle to his people. Flinders adds that the foundation of the Church “presumes an educational process based on inspired revelation.” Additionally, Joseph taught that part of that educational process was not only hearing and receiving intelligence, but gathering together to sustain and defend it.

Flinders received his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University in sociology. He later received a Masters in religious education and philosophy, and in 1960 earned an inter-disciplinary doctorate degree. He spent nineteen years with the Church Educational System, including a decade in the Commissioner’s Office of that system, and worked for another nineteen years on the faculty of the BYU School of Education. He also served as president of the Far Western Philosophy of Education Society and published a second book on teaching children using an agency approach to education.

Flinders and his wife served a full-time mission in Nauvoo, spending time on the faculty of the Joseph Smith Academy. While there, Flinders taught a Courtship and Marriage class based on the Family Proclamation. It was there that he began his study of Joseph Smith as an educator.