Dr. Stefanie Lenway, business dean at Michigan State University, will become dean of the Opus College of Business and hold the Opus Distinguished Chair at the University of St. Thomas on Aug. 1.

Lenway, 63, will succeed Dr. Christopher Puto, 71, who has been dean of St. Thomas’ business programs since 2002. Following a one-year sabbatical leave, Puto plans to return to the university as a member of the Opus College of Business faculty.

While Lenway hasn’t formed specific initiatives for the Opus College of Business, “I’m interested and tremendously impressed with what St. Thomas has done in areas such as entrepreneurship, health care and ethics,” she said. “And certainly I’ll be exploring opportunities for online education. There is a growing demand for it.”

Lenway is a researcher, author, consultant on global technology innovation, and for the past 33 years has been a university business professor, department chair or dean.

Twenty-one of those years were at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She began teaching there in 1984 as an assistant professor of strategic management and organization and rose through the ranks to become chair of her department and, from 2002 to 2005, associate dean. She was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2005 to 2010, and has served as the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State since 2010.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she received a bachelor’s in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her M.B.A. and Ph.D. in business administration are from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are pleased to welcome Stefanie to the University of St. Thomas. She has the leadership qualities, energy and vision we were looking for,” said Dr. Susan Huber, executive vice president and provost of St. Thomas. “With her 30-plus years of experience in higher education, especially here in the Twin Cities, she is ideally prepared to build on the Opus College of Business’ academic achievements and to lead it in service to the region’s business community.”

“Stefanie is a strategic, creative thinker who sees opportunities and knows how to take advantage of them,” said Dr. Julie Sullivan, president of St. Thomas. “She is very collaborative and will work closely with people across campus and with the business community. She is particularly interested in entrepreneurship and building international programs and relationships. She knows this area well, having been a faculty member and administrator at the University of Minnesota, and will strengthen our networks in the community.”

“Stefanie is an insightful and big-picture thinker with a wonderful background and a world of experience and connections to make things happen at St. Thomas,” said Richard M. Schulze, founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co. Inc. and a benefactor who chairs the Opus College of Business Strategic Board of Governors and sits on the university’s Board of Trustees. “She will build on the foundation at the business school and reach fully into the business community for meaningful partnerships.

“Her interest on building an entrepreneurial focus adds value throughout the university, as well as providing leadership to the importance of competitive advantage for students wanting to control their own destiny. I am pleased she is coming to St. Thomas to focus on the added dimension of high-quality inspiration throughout all our colleges.”

Lenway began her teaching career in 1981 as an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 1984. That year her doctoral dissertation on the politics of international trade received the Best Dissertation Award from the Academy of Management and was published by Pitman.

While at the University of Minnesota, she was named a McKnight Land-Grant Professor, again received a best teacher award, and with international field work funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, co-wrote her second book, Managing New Industry Creation. The book chronicles the history of the global liquid-crystal, flat-screen television industry and was published by Stanford University Press. It was co-written by Dr. Jeffrey Hart and Dr. Thomas Murtha, Lenway’s husband and frequent partner in writing scholarly papers and articles on international business.

Murtha joined the Opus College of Business in 2013 as a Distinguished Service Professor of Management, and has a long record of service on nonprofit boards. He is the immediate past president of the Industry Studies Association, an academic society that he helped to found in 2009, and is current president of the Bakken Trio chamber music company in the Twin Cities. Murtha also teaches doctoral students in international business at Michigan State, and is an emeritus professor of strategic management at the Carlson School.

Lenway is on the board of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB) and is a fellow and past president of the Academy of International Business. She has served as a consultant on global innovation strategies for firms such as 3M, Nokia, Applied Materials and Honeywell.

During her years at Michigan State, Lenway built a global network of academic partners to create teaching and research opportunities for faculty and students. She helped launch Broad College’s first completely online degree program, a master of science in management, strategy and leadership, and led the development of a master’s in business analytics and several online certificate programs. While at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she helped create a multidisciplinary Innovation Center that brought together the colleges of architecture, engineering and business.

If you ask Lenway why she chose to become business dean at St. Thomas, she’ll tell you “the No. 1 reason is St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan.”

Both Lenway and Sullivan have Ph.D.s in business and many years of experience teaching and leading university business programs. “That’s a huge plus,” Lenway said. “When Dr. Sullivan and I first talked on the phone, I knew immediately that she is really someone I could work with.”

Lenway also is excited to work with the St. Thomas faculty. “Dean Chris Puto has assembled an outstanding faculty during his years at St. Thomas, and leading the Opus College of Business to its AACSB accreditation was a tremendous accomplishment.”

“St. Thomas’ AASCB accreditation was critical to my decision to accept the university’s offer,” Lenway said. “It means that the Opus College of Business is focused on continuous improvement and is preparing students for the careers of tomorrow.”

Lenway has followed St. Thomas’ evolution as a university since the 1980s and says “when I was at the University of Minnesota we used to talk about the ‘old St. Thomas.’ Now we see the ‘new St. Thomas.’ The old UST was primarily a teaching college. The new UST is now seen as an integrated university, emphasizing teaching, research and service.”

Lenway is looking forward to returning to Minnesota, meeting friends, colleagues, “and especially working with the business community.” She is a musician but admits, “I’ve been neglecting my double bass lately.”

She and her husband have a home near Minneapolis’ Loring Park and they enjoy walking the lakes and attending Twin Cities cultural events. They have one adult son, Morgan Murtha, who works in the hospitality industry in Los Angeles.

Sullivan and Huber thanked members of the dean search committee, which was chaired by Dr. Don Weinkauf, dean of the School of Engineering. Committee members from the Opus College of Business are:

  • David Deeds, Ph.D., Schulze Chair of Entrepreneurship and director of the Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship;
  • Dawn Elm, Ph.D., professor and department chair, Ethics and Business Law;
  • Michael Garrison, associate dean of faculty and scholarship; professor, Ethics and Business Law;
  • Lisa Guyott, director of Marketing Communications;
  • Pat Hedberg, Ph.D., associate professor and department chair, Management; 3M Professor in Residence;
  • Sameer Kumar, Ph.D., CenturyLink Endowed Chair in Global Communications and Technology Management; professor, Operations and Supply Chain Management;
  • Michael Porter, Ed.D., director, Master of Business Communication Program; and
  • Linda Sloan, director, Industry Relations and Career Management.

In addition, Tim Flynn and Dick Schulze, members of the college’s Strategic Board of Governors, served on the committee.

About the Opus College of Business

Business education has been a hallmark of St. Thomas since it added a “commercial course” to its liberal arts curriculum in 1895. Of the university’s 10,221 students, 34 percent are enrolled in the Opus College of Business. Forty-three percent of undergraduates and 30 percent of graduate students study business at the university’s campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

St. Thomas established an MBA program in 1974, and in 2011 the Opus College of Business became the first private college or university in Minnesota, and the second university in the Twin Cities, to hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. In 2014, the college was ranked 100 among the top U.S. business schools by U.S. News & World Report, placing it among the top five in the Upper Midwest.

The Opus College of Business has 98 full-time faculty who teach in Schulze Hall, which opened in downtown Minneapolis in 2005, and in McNeely Hall, which opened on the university’s St. Paul campus in 2006.

The college’s 1,145 graduate students are enrolled in seven master’s programs, and its 2,300 undergraduates can choose from 13 business concentrations. Another 4,100 participants attend executive-education classes each year. The college has more than 31,000 alumni and an endowment of $85 million.