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Profile in Excellence: David Steverson Counts God's Blessings

April 2, 2013

David Steverson, a 1983 OBU graduate, came to OBU from overseas, and not long after graduation found himself overseas again. But the education he earned in the middle of Oklahoma has impacted his career for nearly three decades.

Steverson arrived on Bison Hill more from practicality than anything else. He was getting out of the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in Germany, and his parents heard about a house for sale in Tecumseh, Okla.

"However it happened, I believe the Lord was in it," Steverson said. "OBU gave me a good business education with a faith base. I wanted to be in the business world, but I also wanted to serve the Lord. My education at OBU has helped me fulfill both goals. I immediately went into public accounting there in Shawnee, and within three years from graduation was on the mission field."

Professor Nancy Haigler proved to be a valuable resource for a young business major such as Steverson. Haigler not only was a great encourager for her students, but also provided the practical experience of doing taxes part-time for a local accounting firm. During Steverson's senior year, under recommendation from Haigler, he filled the part-time job as an internship while receiving class credit. Following graduation, Steverson worked full time at the CPA firm recommended by Haigler. He took the CPA exam and passed on his first try, a fairly unusual feat for young accountants.

After working for Horne and Company, CPAs, for three years, Steverson attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for one semester. In 1986, he and his wife, Judy, were appointed as Southern Baptist missionaries to Thailand where he served as business manager and treasurer for missions work in that area of the world. He traveled throughout Asia doing financial work in that role.

In 1992, he was asked to move to Richmond, Va., to serve as associate vice president for finance at the International Mission Board headquarters. In 2001, he was elected as vice president for finance. In his current role, he faces the daunting challenge of balancing a budget affected by a down-turn in giving to non-profits, which then affects global missions endeavors.

"We are grateful that it hasn't been a great decline, but it has been down, and we have had to make adjustments," Steverson said. "Making those adjustments so that they have the least impact on our work is one of our biggest challenges."

Steverson said the education he earned at OBU has benefited his work in finance around the world. Studying the German language on Bison Hill helped him acquire the basics of how to learn another language. And while he can't speak German today, he learned to speak Thai, and 20 years later can still get off an airplane in Bangkok and carry on a pretty deep conversation.

"OBU also provided me a well-rounded liberal arts education which has helped me better understand people from different cultures and even people from our culture who do things differently than I do," he said.

In retrospect, OBU's caring professors, practical experience and inter-cultural study set a firm foundation to empower Steverson to literally count God's blessings around the world both in international missions work and on vacations with their extended family, including children Jennifer Quealy and Matthew Steverson.

His OBU education truly has enabled him to engage a diverse world.

Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellence recipients.