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Remembering former business dean L. William “Bill” Seidman

May 15, 2009

Former FDIC chairman, popular CNBC commentator and former Arizona State University College of Business Dean L. William “Bill” Seidman is being remembered this week as a leader who made great contributions to the economy and higher education.

Seidman served as a top economic advisor to President Ford and later led the federal response to the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). He served as the business school dean at ASU from 1982 to 1985. He died Wednesday of complications from pneumonia.

“We are truly saddened to hear about the passing of Bill Seidman,” says Dean Robert E. Mittelstaedt of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “He dedicated most of his life to serving his country and contributing to the growth of the education and business communities both here in Arizona and around the world. We are honored that he spent several years inspiring students and helping to build this institution into what it has become as the nationally ranked W. P. Carey School of Business. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

The school continues to honor Seidman through the economic research work accomplished at its L. William Seidman Research Institute founded in his name in 1992. Two important groups that Seidman created at the school are also flourishing. The Dean’s Council of 100 is a national group of prominent business executives who advise the school. The Economic Club of Phoenix has become the preeminent forum for the exchange of ideas about business and the economy.

Several faculty and staff members at the school had the pleasure of knowing and working with Seidman. They relate stories about how much he cared about young people and wanted to make a difference in their lives.

For example, there is the story of Gary Trujillo, an undergraduate student when Seidman was dean at the ASU business school. No one in Trujillo’s family had completed college, but Seidman noticed the young president of the Hispanic Business Association, mentored him, and encouraged him to forgo a traditional accounting firm job to instead become an investment banker on Wall Street and then go on to receive an MBA from Harvard University.

“Bill Seidman was a great man, tough as nails, but extremely generous,” says Trujillo, who continued to maintain a close relationship with Seidman throughout his adult life. “He took me from a young boy in south Phoenix to the big time on Wall Street.”

Today, Trujillo is chairman of the board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. He has also formed a group that provides venture capital to struggling companies, including minority-owned businesses, as well as a charitable foundation to provide scholarships to deserving students. The W. P. Carey School of Business has named a Spirit of Enterprise Award category after Trujillo, to honor some of the best minority-owned businesses in Arizona.

“I think it is easy to identify the point in our history that the original College of Business at ASU began its transition from a regional business school to an emphasis on both the local and national/international business communities, and this was clearly during Bill’s time as dean,” says Economics Professor Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Bill helped us make the first major step toward being the highly ranked W. P. Carey School we are today.”

Seidman will be remembered during an event being held by the Economic Club of Phoenix, which he founded, on Wednesday. Bill Seidman was 88 years old.