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Celebrating a Special Teacher, His Students, and Alumni

Dean Johnson with Dee and Jim Trethewey.

A packed MUB Ballroom was a testament to Dean Johnson, the James ’67 and Delores Trethewey APMP Professor in the School of Business and Economics, his students, and the couple who have endowed his professorship.

At the reception, it was a family affair, too, as Johnson’s home life was acknowledged, first by President Glenn Mroz. Johnson’s family was present, and they were given credit for helping Johnson establish the program twelve years ago. The endowed professorship was a great reflection on all of Michigan Tech, Mroz added.

Dean Darrell Radson agreed, stating that as great as the Applied Portfolio Management Program was in terms of marketing and public knowledge of the School and University, it was the impact on the students that truly mattered.

“Great business schools are always part of great universities,” Radson said. “And endowing the professorship is an important step toward greatness.”

James Trethewey said, as he thought about the day, he thought about honoring our heroes like Johnson, and authenticity.

“I looked up ‘authentic,’” he said. “And it talked about being original, trustworthy, and sincere, and that is certainly Dean. This greatness at Tech comes from everyone, too. Great leadership like Glenn, great staff, great people, including everyone in this room.”

Thus, we salute our hero, Trethewey said.

Johnson spoke on the history of the APMP: from three volunteers to more than 300 students overall; from an excursion of a golf outing to NASDAQ and Chicago Mercantile visits; from a “scholarship” of a pizza dinner to all the APMP students operating on real scholarships; from a little room in the basement to a sparkling new LSGI Trading Room with a $25,000 per year Bloomberg terminal.

“It’s really about coming full circle,” Johnson said. “Sam Tidwell changed Jim’s life, and now he and Delores are changing the lives of students.”

The ceremony continued with a plethora of student testimonials, read by Ted Simonsen ’07, who works for Ameriprise Financial locally and was representing his APMP brothers and sisters and all the students touched by Johnson.

“As much as I appreciate his teachings about investments,” Simonsen said, in his own testimonial, “it was his way of connecting with students on a personal level that meant even more. He takes the time to get to know all of his students, and I use that great example every day.”

Graduating APMP students Ann Dancy and Todd Storm, fittingly, were the last to speak. They reinforced impact that this teacher, alumnus, and program have had them, as the ceremony ended and the family of Tech celebrated heroes past, present, and future.


Dean Johnson Named Michigan Professor of the Year

Dean Johnson

April 3, 2012—

Dean Johnson, the James and Delores Trethewey Associate Professor in Michigan Technological University’s School of Business and Economics, has been named Professor of the Year by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan (PCSUM). Johnson shares the honor with professors from Michigan State, Saginaw Valley State and Wayne State Universities. 

 “Dean Johnson has demonstrated his outstanding teaching ability over the years to many students through the Applied Portfolio Management Program, which he designed and directs,” said Darrell Radson, dean of the School of Business and Economics. “We are very proud that his abilities have also been recognized by higher education leaders and professors across our state.”

The four Michigan Professors of the Year were judged on student learning, interactions with graduates, experiential learning, academic advising, undergraduate research opportunities, and scholarship on teaching and learning.

“It is great to be recognized with this honor, especially since it is presented for teaching and guiding students,” Johnson said. “I know that our Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) also had a lot to do with it, and a lot of people have helped me with APMP over the years.”

In the APMP, students invest real money in the stock market. Their portfolio now totals more than $1.3 million. They have won the RISE (Redefining Investment Strategy Education) national investment competition three times.

In nominating Johnson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Max Seel was effusive over the business professor’s record of advising, teaching, scholarship and devotion to his students.

“Johnson,” he said, “has a genuine concern and compassion for each individual student.” His devotion to his students was revealed when he began the APMP program, Seel said.

“APMP was the result of a single, new, untenured professor who took the risk to expend enormous amounts of time to secure the required resources necessary,” Seel said, noting that Johnson had “established an Advisory Board of investment professionals” and “secured the physical space, furniture, computers to house the program; acquired the actual money for the students to manage; built relationships with guest speakers; located internships; and many other necessary, ongoing activities.”

The APMP students are now housed in the new LSGI Trading Room, with Bloomberg trading platform, thanks to Johnson’s leadership and alumnus Joe Dancy.

Johnson has previously won the Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award twice–only the third professor in the history of the University so honored. He is a member of the Michigan Tech Teaching Academy (which recognizes teaching excellence), and has been honored with the James and Delores Trethewey APMP Professorship. 

Johnson himself once said, “When I walk into the classroom, I have an hour to make a difference in the lives of those students. . . . I try to find out where they’re from and what career goals they have. Once you develop a personal relationship, it becomes much easier to push, push, push them to learn and study because they realize I truly have their best interest at heart.”

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.


Jim Trethewey ’67 – A Different Route to Success

"A really good education is your ticket to opening up opportunities. When opportunities struck, I was well prepared to take advantage of them.” Jim Tretheway '67

Taking “the road less traveled” takes courage, especially for a college student. Many students come to Michigan Tech for engineering, but an elective can lead to a different career path. Such is the story of Jim Trethewey.

Trethewey, from Ironwood, began as a mechanical engineering major. Then he took an accounting elective from Professor Sam Tidwell. Because he did well in the course, Tidwell encouraged him to change majors. After some soul-searching, Trethewey switched to accounting.

As an undergraduate, Trethewey was involved in Theta Tau fraternity and intramural sports. His academic achievements led to the honorary accounting fraternity Kappa Sigma Iota. “I made many good friends and liked the students’ work ethic,” says Trethewey. “And, in my career, it turned out to be a very good thing to have a mix of business and technical courses.”

After graduating, Trethewey accepted a position as an auditor for Copper Range, a copper mining concern. He next joined Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Natural Resources), an iron ore mining company in an exciting growth period, as a financial analyst in its Ishpeming office.

Cleveland-Cliffs offered Trethewey a wide variety of opportunities. From Ishpeming to Ontario to Cleveland, Trethewey worked in positions of increasing responsibility and became vice president-controller and chief accounting officer. Along the way, he also earned his MBA from Baldwin- Wallace College.

In his final years with Cliffs, Trethewey was senior vice president of business development and worked with the senior corporate team in reshaping the company, adding international experience to his career. He retired in 2007.

Looking back, Trethewey says, “A really good education is your ticket to opening up opportunities. When opportunities struck, I was well prepared to take advantage of them.”

Being open to different types of jobs within a company is helpful, as many newly learned skills could be transferred to other areas, he says. “Mobility is also important. Don’t tie yourself down to one location.”

Being involved in both professional and community organizations has also been important to Trethewey. He networked with professionals in the American Mining Association, the Society of Mining Engineers, and other industry groups that gave him a broader understanding of his field.

“I worked with community organizations such as United Way and currently serve on the boards of two charities,” says Trethewey. “I was always looking for ways to give back to society. It’s important to stay active in other things besides work so you can expand yourself.”

Trethewey credits a lot of his success to family support, especially from his wife, Dee. The couple divides their time among a winter home in Florida, a summer home in Chautauqua, New York, and a townhouse in Cleveland, where three of their five children and five of their eight grandchildren live.

Trethewey has found time in his busy retirement to continue giving back to Tech. In 1994, he began serving on the School of Business and Economics advisory board, and since 2009 he has served as a trustee of the Michigan Tech Fund.

Trethewey reflects, “My newer role as a trustee lets me deal with the entire University. It gives me an opportunity to participate in activities with other devoted graduates who care where the University is going. We help raise funds for the University, network, and work to form corporate partnerships. These activities are important to maintain sound financial footing and ensure the University continues to advance.”

As an advisor to the School of Business and Economics, he has been involved in AACSB accreditation, which has been particularly gratifying for Trethewey. Providing input on curriculum and meeting with students and faculty have been valuable for him. He is excited about many School and University programs including the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) and Enterprise.

“I like that the School is getting involved directly with corporations and the hands-on nature of these programs,” he says. In addition, Trethewey has started two endowed scholarships for business students from Gogebic County. Other possible contributions are in the planning stages.

“The School of Business and Economics was my foundation, my beginning on the road to success,” he says. “So it’s really important for me to have a part in its growth. The current direction of the School is right on track. Being involved has given me the opportunity to have a voice in where the School is going and ensure it’s constantly getting better. And that’s very fulfilling.”

This article was originally published in Impact, the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics magazine.


It’s Here! Impact Magazine Fall/Winter 2011 Issue

The third issue of Impact features the Business Development Experience, an experiential learning component of undergraduate business curriculum.

Impact is Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics semi-annual publication. It illustrates how our students, alumni, School, and University are changing our world.

This issue discusses the future of business education, renewed AACSB accreditation, successful alumni stories, the spring 2011 undergraduate trip to Silicon Valley, two faculty who have become co-editors of an influential policy journal, and MBA student research on survey data. Read Impact now.

See past issues of Impact on our website.

The School of Business and Economics would like to recognize key people who have continued to make Impact a reality. University Marketing and Communciation’s Crystal Verran, Dennis Walikainen, and Bill Tembruell. Also, writer Erin Kauppila. Thank you all for your hard work.