Veritas Institute

Announcement: Philadelphia Entrepreneur Gives Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas $10 Million to Support Business Ethics

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gift endows ethics appraisal center, underwrites book chronicling the history of corporate responsibility

A Philadelphia energy industry entrepreneur has given $10 million to the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas to support its programs in corporate ethics and responsibility.

The gift announced today by St. Thomas is from Harry R. Halloran Jr., chairman and CEO of the American Refining Group Inc. and founder and CEO of Energy Unlimited Inc., two Pennsylvania-based companies. He also is the founder of Halloran Philanthropies, an organization that supports efforts to enhance global business ethics, microfinance and community service.

"Over the past decade I have come to know and admire St. Thomas' scholars and programs devoted to corporate ethics," Halloran said. "The university and its Opus College of Business are leaders in this critically important field, and I am grateful to be able to support their efforts."

Halloran’s donation to St. Thomas’ Opening Doors capital campaign will support work in corporate ethics and responsibility undertaken by two organizations in the Opus College of Business: the SAIP (Self-Assessment and Improvement Process) Institute and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures.

“This is a wonderful boost to what has been a long-standing emphasis of St. Thomas in the increasingly important discipline of business ethics,” said Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. “It also takes us a step closer to reaching our goal to raise $500 million for Opening Doors, putting our current total at $342.5 million.”

“Harry Halloran’s generous gift reflects his deep concern for the ethical and social impact of corporations,” said Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the Opus College of Business. “It ranks among the most significant contributions ever made to a university for business ethics, and it further enhances the strong position of the Opus College within that discipline. With this gift we now have more substantial strengths in understanding, teaching, implementing and measuring ethical business practices.”     

Gift accelerates the work of ethics appraisal center

The principal beneficiary of Halloran’s donation is the Veritas Institute. The institute was formed in May 2007 to help companies assess and enhance their ethical performance using the Self-Assessment and Improvement Process, a proprietary tool modeled upon the appraisal method pioneered by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program. Halloran led the SAIP’s development and provided financial backing for the institute’s launch.

The $10 million gift will support the institute’s general operations, allowing it to focus on its mission rather than fundraising, said T. Dean Maines, president of the Veritas Institute. That means more time to promote the SAIP, to explore new ways to apply and adapt the process and to help more business schools integrate the SAIP into their curricula, he said.

“We’re honored and blessed by Mr. Halloran’s generosity and thank him for the contributions he’s made with both his finances and his time,” said Maines. “His donation allows the institute to build on its progress to date by significantly accelerating its efforts.”

The SAIP extends the Baldrige approach to questions of corporate ethics, governance and social responsibility. It provides a systematic framework for data collection and analysis, which helps organizations examine and continuously improve the processes and practices that drive relations with employees, customers, investors, communities and other stakeholders. It also leads companies to consider how well they are complying with legal and regulatory requirements. 

“Today’s corporations - small, midsize, large and multinationals - are increasingly interested in how they can be agents of positive social change,” Halloran said. “The SAIP does a great job of helping organizations improve their contributions to all stakeholders and society.” 

Since its launch, the institute has developed relationships that have introduced the SAIP into new business sectors and geographies.  The institute worked with several partners during 2007 to incorporate the SAIP method into an assessment for Catholic health-care organizations. It also assisted with the assessment’s implementation at St. Louis-based Ascension Health, the largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system in the United States. The institute and Ascension Health are working with the Catholic Health Association to make this process more widely available. 

Furthermore, the institute is collaborating with the Hill Center for Ethical Business Leadership, a division of the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, to bring the SAIP to entrepreneurial ventures. An institute partner in Italy recently completed the first application of the SAIP in that country.   

Donation funds a history of corporate responsibility

Halloran’s gift also will underwrite a three-year project at the Center for Ethical Business Cultures to research and write a history of corporate responsibility.

The CEBC-led project will track the evolution of corporate responsibility practice from post-World War II to the present, both within the United States and globally. It will examine how business operations have been affected by social, economic and regulatory changes, and assess the impact of business on its stakeholders. To produce the U.S. history, CEBC will draw on eminent scholars from St. Thomas, Boston University, the University of Georgia, the University of Virginia, DePaul University and Florida International University, plus an array of other researchers and business practitioners.

For the history’s global component, CEBC will tap a network of institutes and practitioners in countries around the world to detail how corporate responsibility has evolved within different cultural and national contexts. Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster, holder of the Koch Chair in Business Ethics in the Opus College, will serve as executive editor. David Rodbourne, CEBC's vice president, will be the corporate history project director.

“Our goal is to reach a broad audience of national and international business leaders and policy makers with a compelling and thought-provoking history,” said Ron James, CEBC president and CEO. “Given our roots in the business community’s commitment to responsible conduct and our focus on embedding ethical concerns within business strategy and practice, the center is delighted to lead this project.” 

Located at the Opus College of Business, CEBC assists business leaders in efforts to create ethical and profitable organizations at the enterprise, community and global levels. The center, a nonprofit organization founded by business leaders in 1978, affiliated with St. Thomas in 1988. That partnership became a permanent joint venture in 2004.

Opening Doors is an eight-year, $500 million capital campaign that was announced by St. Thomas in October 2007. To date it has raised $342.5 million in donations and pledges, including the $10 million Halloran gift.

With 2,142 graduate students and 2,427 undergraduates, the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business offers undergraduate majors in 12 fields and master’s degrees in eight, including day and evening MBA programs. It enrolls another 7,800 participants annually in its continuing executive education classes, and provides custom programs for 150 businesses and nonprofit organizations.  

In addition to the Veritas Institute and Center for Ethical Business Cultures, the business school is home to 11 centers and institutes in such fields as health policy and medical affairs, entrepreneurship and small business, family business, nonprofit management and real estate. 

University of St. Thomas Press Release, 06/03/2008