Recommended reading from School of Business academic directors

Bookshelf behind a desk

In addition to their intensive day-to-day management, the academic directors in the Portland State School of Business graduate programs bring invaluable thought leadership to their programs. In the spirit of life-long learning, we asked them what they are reading right now. Here are their recommendations to add to your reading list!

Tichelle Sorensen, academic director for The Portland MBA

“Typically I love the storytelling aspect of books like ‘Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork’ by Reeves Weideman, which features a backstory of a company with a lot of promise, but is also a pretty compelling example of failed governance. However, I’m currently reading ‘Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy’ by Cathy O’Neil at the suggestion of Professor Dave Garten — also a compelling read that I’m looking forward to discussing with Dave and Professor James Latham, who teaches our Data Analytics class. Finally, PSU alum Rebecca Armistead reached out just yesterday to make sure I had read ‘Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ by Caroline Criado Perez. I’m hoping to pull together a group of alums and maybe current students to read and discuss that one together.”

Julie Hackett, academic director for the Master of Science in Finance

“I recommend ‘Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries’ by Safi Bahcall and ‘Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education’ by Bryan Alexander to anyone who is passionate about transforming business and higher education.”

John Eckroth, academic director for the Master of Taxation

“The Racial Disparities and the Income Tax System website addresses racial disparities in our income tax system in the United States. For example, through redlining and often blatant laws, African Americans have suffered very low home ownership. We know home ownership has been one of the primary sources of generational wealth. The tax code also provides a significant benefit to homeowners — not only through tax deductions, but also through excluding the first $500,000 of gain from income on the sale of your home (for a married couple). So while African Americans could not own homes, white folks not only could own a home and were able to put $500,000 of home sale gain in their pockets tax-free. This is just one example; the tax code is full of other examples.

I started talking to my students about this as something they need to consider. Not only to encourage change, but to have them begin looking at other systemic inequalities in our tax and accounting world. I have been working in tax for more than 40 years and was not aware of these disparities; never crossed my mind or came to my attention. It makes me think, what else is out there? To begin to remedy this lack of knowledge, Professor Dorothy Brown from Emory University has just put out a new book, ‘The Whiteness of Wealth (How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—And How We Can Fix It),’ that I have recently purchased and intend to highlight in my classes. 

I am quite sure most people, including accountants, have not looked at the tax code or other structures through this lens. I think it is time we do so!”

Daniel Wong, academic director for the Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management 

Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh’s ‘China RX: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine’ discusses a very important subject of our time: dealing with global supply chain risks. While the vaccination rate is going at a pace of 3-4 million per day in the U.S., we are still living through the pandemic. We have seen how it impacted global supply chain disruptions first hand. Unfortunately, as soon as we have the Covid-19 under control in this great country, our overdependence on China to provide for our global supply chains will start to impact other industries, with severe geopolitical implications.”

Gerard Mildner, academic director for the Master of Real Estate

“I’ve been re-reading Joel Garreau’s ‘Edge City: Life on the New Frontier.’ This influential book came out 30 years ago, and documented the development of suburban office and retail complexes that provide rival employment locations to traditional downtowns. I’ve been asked to write a retrospective article on the book for Development magazine and hope to interview the author.”

Julie Gibson, executive director the Center for Real Estate

“I’m finishing up ‘The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,’ by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s a fascinating and heart-wrenching narrative nonfiction book about the exodus of 6 million black Americans who fled the South (north and west) in search of a better life between 1915-1970. While it’s a long read, the stories are eye opening and have reinforced for me how fortunate I and my white ancestors are to have not faced the numerous struggles and inequities that so many today still face.”

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