The Business of Happiness: Remembering Professor Scott Deacle
Spreadsheets. Lots of spreadsheets.
Beloved for his engaging personality and his unwavering commitment to Ursinus students, Associate Professor of Business and Economics Scott Deacle was also a man of organization. And structure. In conversations leading up to this article, a few things kept coming up—his morning coffee and treasured syrup collection, the prized Totem Trophy for March Madness, a homemade chicken coop, the red solo cups filled with Martinelli Sparkling Cider to celebrate UCIMCO presentations.
But nothing was as popular a response as those Excel spreadsheets. Seems appropriate for a finance guy, doesn’t it? And for someone who tended to tackle the day’s most complex work as early as 6 a.m. Professor Deacle’s focus and detail-oriented approach to just about everything (he recently navigated a New York City trip with a hand-drawn map…more on that later) helped raise the profile of Ursinus’s business and economics department. He was the college’s biggest champion of the investment club—one of the most celebrated and successful among our peers, even creating special pathways for female students to pursue interests in finance. And most recently, he was instrumental in the development of the college’s new finance major.
What endeared him most to hundreds of colleagues and, perhaps, thousands of students during his 12 years at Ursinus, was an unbridled—if highly organized—joie de vivre that put family and students first. And in his day-to-day routine, one could observe a teacher and mentor who celebrated the little things in life.
A day wouldn’t go by without Scott visiting the Wall Street Journal’s website. “America’s best news source,” he often exclaimed. “And possibly the best news organization in the world.” Yet his favorite media was most likely Bloomberg’s Odd Lots—an investigation into the strange “story-behind-the-story” that captivated economists like him and, of course, the future economists at Ursinus that were set on a path to success because of Scott’s tutelage.
“He was so proud of the students and the community that [UCMICO and the women’s investment club] created, with alumni coming back to presentations and continuing to engage with current students and the fund,” Entrepreneur-in-Residence Maureen Cumpstone says. “He had big visions for the growth of UCIMCO, the experience that it provides students, and the contributions that it makes back to the college.”
One thing you would probably never find on Wall Street, however, are investment moguls in anything other than business attire. Not Scott.
“He had this thing about Hawaiian shirts,” says fellow business professor Steve Aukers. “He wanted us all to wear it the first day of every semester, to help break the ice with students.”
“I mean, who actually has a collection of Hawaiian shirts nowadays?”
That would be Scott Deacle—a man never afraid to break that mold.
He loved connecting with his students outside the classroom. An avid fan of ice cream, he once invited several students out for a treat, ultimately deciding on local favorite Handel’s. “We all showed up and had to compliment Dr. Deacle on his very nice sweatpants and Ursinus sweatshirt,” says Michael Magargee ’23, smiling. “We had never seen him wear anything else besides his normal button down and khakis!” Amidst a wide-ranging conversation about investment strategy, the biggest debate for Scott turned out to be Midnight Madness or Chocoholic Chunk. The former won out.
Other decisions were easier, if not always the most sensible, says fellow student Jack Thompson ’24. Jack was among several students to travel with Professor Deacle to New York in April. “When taking the walking tour of the financial district of Manhattan, he pulls out a hand-written map that he spent hours making the night before to show us around. He made sure he had everything written and mapped out, despite all of us having phones.”
Rumor has it he only got lost once. As his students would often say, “That’s so Deacle!”
That adventurous spirit was just one of many, many calling cards for the former chair of the business and economics department. And behind each calling card was a gesture designed, intentionally, to bring a smile to your face. And few people did it as well as Professor Deacle.
His family owns a cabin, far north in Canada, completely off-the-grid. He’d return home with bags of a maple-flavored candy that he’d spend the next few months pushing on the entire department, with little luck.
He often started his 8:35 a.m. Research Methods class with a series of high-minded economic jokes, gifs, or memes. “I remember they always brought me a sense of joy and humor, not only because of the corniness of the meme, but also the timing with which he presented them to the class,” says Evan Coffey ’24. “He knew it was early and he knew that some students were simply trying to stay awake, but he got so much joy out of sharing those memes early in the morning!”
Professor Deacle often played the expert himself, regularly appearing on KYW-AM in Philadelphia to give an insider’s view of business headlines. “I always learned something, and I just enjoyed talking with him,” says reporter Matt Leon.
“Our conversations after the interview inevitably lasted much longer than the portion that made it on the podcast and would cover a wide range of topics. He made complex topics easy to understand, he made our listeners smarter, he made me smarter, but more importantly, Scott was just one of those people who made your day better by being a part of it.”