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New Business School Sets Out to ‘Achieve What’s Next’

More than 300 people attended the grand opening celebration for Carthage College’s School of Business and Economics this spring.

The new organizational structure brings faculty from several thriving academic programs together under one umbrella. Its collaborative model promises to expand hands-on learning and pave the way for new programs and partnerships in emerging fields.

Already, about one-fourth of Carthage undergraduate students major in accounting, economics, finance, management, or marketing. The graduate business program offers tracks in sports management as well as business design and innovation.

The new school adopted the tagline “Achieve What’s Next,” reflecting its forward-looking mindset. More than eighty community leaders took part in a roundtable discussion, offering input to help refine the educational vision.

“We need to identify the interests of tomorrow’s high school students and develop new academic programs at the intersection of their goals and employer expectations,” said Jim Padilla, dean for the School of Business and Economics. “We will be a regional center of excellence by developing the best-prepared business students.”

Dr. Padilla arrived at Carthage last summer to direct the launch after leading a similar program at Loras College in Iowa. Along with a teaching background in sports management, law, and ethics, Padilla brings more than two decades of executive experience in specialized insurance.

Morningstar CEO Kunal Kapoor, the keynote presenter at the grand opening, raved about the value of a broad-based education. In his public address and a separate Q & A session with business student leaders, he emphasized the critical thinking chops and gritty determination that liberal arts graduates acquire.

“It’s really easy to hire smart kids, but it’s really hard to find kids who can think for themselves,” he said. “We’ll look for critical thinking before the finance degree.”