On the Value of a Strong Liberal Arts-Based Undergraduate Business Education Christopher Puto, Ph.D. November 15, 2006 Recently, the University of St. Thomas updated and restated its mission statement as follows: "Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good." Each of these carefully chosen words carries a powerful message for students, alumni and employers.Since approximately 35 percent of all St. Thomas undergraduates elect to major in business, it is important to fully understand and appreciate the role of the liberal arts in the education of our business majors. Unlike any other business school, our undergraduates take 66 percent of their credit hours outside the College of Business.Our students form the basis of their critical thinking skills by taking courses in philosophy, the social sciences and the physical sciences. They build their communications and social skills by taking courses in English, the fine arts and a foreign language. They understand the significance of the common good and the role of spirituality by taking courses in theology and Catholic Studies. And, the entire St. Thomas curriculum and co-curricular offerings prepare students to be morally responsible members of society.We then build on this strong foundation and give our business students a context for acting and working skillfully as leaders through the business core and elective courses.The Catholic intellectual tradition goes well beyond viewing education as a process for thinking grand thoughts. The Catholic intellectual tradition mandates that we use education to create and disseminate knowledge that prepares our graduates to make the world a better place for all who live in it.Working in concert with their colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty in the Opus College of Business serve as coaches and mentors to ensure that our students understand the true value of a well-rounded liberal arts foundation for those who seek a successful career in the professions. By exposing our students to the breadth of cultural knowledge and the value of well-reasoned decision making and critical thinking, the University of St. Thomas develops in its students a lifetime commitment to learning, not a detailed examination of narrow fields.In addition to the traditional foundation courses in business, every student in the Opus College of Business participates in business ethics and leadership courses and completes a unique requirement to provide 40 hours of community service supervised by a senior member of our professional staff.Graduates of the Opus College of Business enter their careers with the knowledge that a good business creates and delivers superior value by making the world a better place to live and work, and that profit is not the goal but rather the reward for morally responsible business leadership.