From the beginning of the Catholic Studies program, there has been a commitment to engage the professional programs of the university by offering interdisciplinary courses that are grounded in the Catholic theological tradition and institutionally embodied in contemporary practices. The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) has recognized one of these courses and has awarded theUniversity of St. Thomas the Innovative Entrepreneurship Course Award for 2002.
The winning course is CATH 306, Christian Faith and the Management Professions: An Entrepreneurial Perspective (cross-listed with the Theology Department). The course has been team-taught the last two fall semesters by Dr. Michael Naughton, Catholic Studies and theology, and Dr. Jeffrey Cornwall, entrepreneurship, and was featured in Perspectives (May 2001) The purpose of the course is to examine through literature, philosophy, theology and organizational theory and practice, foundational questions for the entrepreneur such as “What is a good entrepreneur and how does he or she contribute to the common good?” or “What is the role and meaning of spirituality for the entrepreneur?” The course particularly draws on the Catholic social tradition, especially the social teachings of Pope John Paul II.
Both Naughton and Cornwall went to the USASBE national conference in Reno, Nev., last January to present the course to the association. With the help of Brad Jacobsen from St. Thomas Information Resources and Technologies department, they produced a video of students commenting on what the course has meant for them. The course has led some students to view the world of business in a new way. Mike McNamara, who took the class last fall, said, “I think at the beginning of my schooling and at the beginning of the semester I had this idea that I wanted to be an entrepreneur so I could bring out the best in me. While I think that’s still important, I do think that part of the role and responsibility of being an entrepreneur also is to bring out the good things in other people.”
The course is supported, in part, through a recent grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The five-year, $3 million grant was awarded to help students, faculty and staff at St. Thomas understand the meaning of their life’s vocation, as opposed to their job or career.
Cornwall is chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and holds the Sandra Schulze Chair in Entrepreneurship. He received a doctorate in management and organization and an MBA in finance from the University of Kentucky. During the late 1980s, Cornwall cofounded Atlantic Behavioral Health Systems, and after nine years of rapid growth, he negotiated the sale of most of his business interests. Cornwall returned to academia and has co-authored two books, Organizational Entrepreneurship and The Entrepreneurial Educator.
Naughton is the director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought of the Center for Catholic Studies, which examines Catholic social thought in relation to business, Catholic education and urban issues. Naughton received a Ph.D. in theology and society from Marquette University, and an M.B.A. from St. Thomas. His most recent books are Managing as if Faith Mattered: Christian Social Principles in the Modern Organization (co-author Helen Alford, O.P.) and Rethinking the Purpose of Business: Interdisciplinary Essays from the Catholic Social Tradition, both of which are published by the University of Notre Dame Press.