Thursday, June 6, 2013

USA Today - New Business School aims to build moral corporate leaders

USA Today published an article about the unique nature of Catholic University's
approach to developing the business leaders of tomorrow.  Here is the article in it's entirety

In an effort to prevent the next Ponzi scheme or insider-trading scandal, Catholic University of
McMahon Hall -- which houses the School of Business
and Economics -- on the campus of The Catholic
University of America
America's new business school will integrate ethics and finance to mold students into moral corporate leaders.

Touted as the intersection between faith and business, the Washington, D.C., university will employ a value-based method that infuses integrity, morals and religious principles with traditional lessons in management, accounting and marketing.

"A lot of people have developed a poor view of business and business people, and you can understand why," said Stewart McHie, director of Catholic's graduate business program. "We all see the need for more ethical business people to be trained."

To create a new ethical approach, the university turned its business department, with about 400 undergraduates and 40 graduate students, into the School of Business and Economics in January. The first class since the school's creation graduated in May.

The school's faculty is currently working to revamp the business curricula over the summer so ethics discussion is infused into all classes on a daily basis.

For example, instead of just teaching general accounting principles, a course will examine which principles help best serve customers or a constituency, McHie said. Lessons will look beyond financial success to examine a company's ethics.

The school's dean, Andrew Abela, said the approach is unique because most business schools have only separate ethics courses or devote one class to ethics, as opposed to Catholic's daily integration of ethics into every class.

Carley Gartner, 18, a rising sophomore at Catholic, said she chose the school's business program specifically because she was looking to gain a value-based business education.

"I knew they were getting the business school and that it was going to be rooted in ethics," she said. "I knew it would set me up with the ethical background that I need."

Gartner said her friends at other business schools did not seem to have the same intense ethics study. She said she didn't consider some other Catholic schools, such as Georgetown University or Notre Dame University, that mix business and faith because they did not have as strong of a religion-based program.

Shirley Lee, 19, a rising junior at New York University's Stern School of Business, also said Catholic's school is unique. At NYU, business students take an ethics class each year on a different topic, but Lee said students did not always take the lessons beyond that course.

"It's only one class that really pushes social responsibility," she said. "I don't think people understand the gravity of our jobs. We're handling other people's money."

Students know what is illegal, Lee said, but the gray areas are where many ethical lapses occur.

McHie said that there is a "right" way to conduct business — always making ethical decisions, even in ambiguous situations. This is a skill he says the university tries to help students develop using the Catholic tenet of commerce as a service to society.

The idea for the business school's new approach came from its master's program, which factors Catholic values into every class and has no distinct ethics course.

Jenna Antos, 24, graduated from the master's program in 2011 and said it helped to shape her perspective on business in her job at data management company NetApp.

"It really changes the mindset; it's not just about management and administration," she said. "You really understand business as an ethical practice rather than a money-making way of life."

The master's program's focus on honesty and integrity was something her employer admired, and it made her a strong candidate when she applied, Antos said.

McHie said the school urges students to shirk corporate greed and scandal in favor of moral grounding and social benefit.

The goal is for business students to understand the responsibility they have as professionals to treat colleagues and customers with dignity, he said.

"If we can prevent one Enron down the road, if we can prevent one WorldCom, it's certainly worthwhile," McHie said.

Ally Mutnick is a summer 2013 Collegiate Correspondent.


  1. Well done. It is encouraging to learn that more managers are looking to hire staff who hold themselves accountable to a community. That no man is an island to himself.

    Even if the hiring manager does not have a faith tradition he can appreciate the ethical grounding instilled at CUA. Perhaps like the French atheist Voltaire, who though Christianity an 'infamy,' the philosopher wrote that “I want my attorney, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God.”

    Voltaire wanted this accountability not for his vendors’ eternal salvation, but as a Total Quality Management System. “…Then I shall be robbed and cuckolded less often,” he concluded.

    The MSBA program accepts students of all faiths or no faith. But all students are trained to be accountable and to be ready with an honest answer.

    Jack Yoest (Your Business Professor)

  2. "It's great.

    This article touches on a lot of what we talk about every day withing the MSBA program at CUA. I like the fact that they gathered an outside perspective of an NYU student and they chose to compare the program with other great schools rich with tradition like Notre Dame and Georgetown. The best part of this article is how it shows that WE are different from these other institutions and how WE are going to produce people who will be successful down the road in their business careers.

    Great job! Congrats."

    Ryan Hyland - MSBA Class of 2014

    1. I completely agree with Ryan. The MSBA program at CUA is a full-fledged reestablishment of what business is and should be. It's about the balance of concern for the consumer and one's self through the ethical and moral principles of each individual.

      What I like about this article is the talk of honesty and integrity with large corporations to prevent disasters such as Enron or WorldCom. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." The MSBA program provides students with the knowledge and understanding that no matter how powerful or successful you become, you value each customer as if it were your first.

      For all prospective graduate students, there is no other Master’s program like the MSBA program and I strongly advise taking advantage of the opportunity to apply.

      Anthony Astorga – MSBA Alumni Class of 2013

  3. Well written and an authentic account of what we as students are taught in the School of Business and Economics at CUA.

    I find it interesting that conventional wisdom has for years pushed employers to motivate workers by the standard monetary raises/bonuses and career movement/development opportunities. In other words, higher salaries, better incentives, ultimately the WIFM (what's in it for me) factor and forget the rest, is what business people/entities are all about and those things drive people to success. People from this camp ask: How do I maximize my gains and minimize my losses?

    However, new prosocial psychology research, particularly the efforts of Wharton Professor, Adam Grant suggests what really drives people in the workplace is their desire and motivation to SERVE others. This assertion is backed up with a number of personal case histories and studies of individuals that have not only been motivated by their desire to help others in their careers, they have also had a tremendous amount of measurable success doing it. (

    I firmly believe that Catholic social teaching's tenant of commerce as a service to society (as touched upon in this article), is really onto something in this regard. My thoughts and motivation about what business ought to be was shaped differently by the end of this program. I'm happy to say that my desire to give and to serve is what ultimately what motivates me in my job at the end of the day. I'm grateful that CUA's School of Business and Economics gave these values to me and all of my colleagues. For these reasons above all, I couldn't be happier with my decision to be a part of the MSBA program at CUA, and I'm confident that instruction like this of professionals entering the workforce can and will have a major impact on preventing another Enron.

    Rodney Still-MSBA Class of 2013

  4. CUA's new School of Business and Economics is taking an approach to practical ethical education that is a refreshing change from what most other business schools offer. Instead of teaching ethical decision making based upon political correctness, groupthink or marginalization reduction, CUA's program bases their approach on solid moral foundations. As a result, CUA business and economics students learn practical decision guidelines that will withstand the test of time and will keep the companies for which they work out of ethical troubles.

    Congratulations, Dean Abela. This is the kind of innovation in business education that America needs!

  5. This is an excellent article that accurately portrays the benefits and the need for the MSBA program and other similar programs. From recently graduating from the program, I can attest first hand that ethical principles taught by the Church through Catholic Social Teaching were woven within every course. We didn't just discuss how to get the best return on investment. We discuss how the ethics involved are crucial to business decision and can't be thought of as an afterthought. I'm tremendously grateful I was able to attend the program and I'm confident that I will make a positive difference in the companies I work for because of the fundamentals I learned at CUA.