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Auto Update Record Owner info in a custom field

Everytime the record owner changes I need to update the user dept value(Picklist,custom field). Currently I am using work flow to verify the rec owner name and update the field. Is there an eligant way to accomplish this?
Sounds like you can accomplish this by creating a trigger.
I accomplished the same process with trigger and a formula field.

1. Create a custom field that a reference to the User Object.
2. Create a formula field off the newly created field in step 1 to display the User Dept.
3. Create a before trigger to set the custom field created in step 1 to the ownerid.