This issue: Summer 2019

George Byrtek: 28 years

Professor of Organizational Leadership, Emeritus 1991-2019

For 28 years, George Byrtek freely admitted to his students they were part of what he calls his “conspiracy to make the world a better place through their ongoing influence.” He did so by helping students gain insight into how individuals and teams function in the context of organizations and equipping them with practical tools they could use in the business and nonprofit worlds.

Byrtek, a professor of organizational leadership in the university’s School of Professional Studies, says two things kept him at George Fox for more than a quarter of a century: the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of students, and the joy of working with colleagues who shared his passion to educate tomorrow’s influencers.

“Having previously worked in the financial services industry for more than 20 years, the contrast between working in business and working at a Christian university has been stark and a clear fulfillment of a sense of calling,” he says. “Serving Christ and helping students actualize the potential he has invested in them has made my work a joy.”

Originally from Wisconsin, Byrtek wasn’t familiar with Oregon’s culture when he began teaching at George Fox in the early 1990s. Commuting from Newberg to Eugene, where his initial cohorts met, he was bewildered by the Grateful Dead bumper stickers and the “1960s hippie culture” of the community. “When I shared this observation with my colleagues, they just laughed and said, ‘Welcome to Oregon,’” he recalls.

Byrtek certainly felt at home at the Portland Center, where his favorite classes to teach were Organizational Behavior, Operations Management and Strategic Management. He enjoyed challenging students because he knew that their struggle to grasp the material – and overcoming that struggle – would serve them well beyond graduation.

In retirement, Byrtek still plans to invest in lives, though this time on a more personal level. “God has blessed my wife Meg and me with 13 grandchildren, and a good portion of my time will shift from investing in students to investing in those young lives,” he says. “So, one could say my conspiracy to make the world a better place through others continues.”

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