Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society Takes Business Programs at Holy Cross to Next Level

The new center gives students multiple pathways to study business at the College

director of certificate programs and prebusiness advisor. "Now, we are going to give students multiple pathways to learn about business."

Arthur "Art" Ciocca '59, chairman emeritus of The Wine Group Inc., and his wife, Carlyse, have been significant supporters of "pre-business" programs over the years. With other alumni, parents and friends, their newest investment will greatly expand on the College's current opportunities for students to study business alongside the liberal arts.

Chu will continue to oversee the certificate programs, which include a business fundamentals certificate and an entrepreneurship certificate. Students can complete the certificate programs over the course of their four years at Holy Cross. Requirements include a set of introductory business workshops, advanced training in Excel and spreadsheet data analysis, a summer internship and three relevant academic classes from options across the curriculum.

"The workshops cover finance, banking, marketing communications and advertising, sales, supply chain — all the various aspects of business that students need to be aware of for them to have a better idea of what business entails. It helps them tremendously in building their knowledge base and, therefore, to have confidence in an interview," Chu says. "The workshops are designed to prepare students to have a basic level of business literacy and confidence to nail an entry-level position when they graduate from Holy Cross."

Student interest in these business certificate programs is booming. This semester, there are more than 470 students participating, and they come from all majors. Enrollment in the workshop about supply chain management doubled from 2017 to 2018, from 20 to more than 40 students. The spring 2019 workshop on business ethics and principled leadership had so many students enroll that Chu hopes to offer multiple sessions in the future.

"My job is not to prepare students to go to business school or an MBA program, but to prepare them to get right into the business world if they choose," Chu says. "With the center, we're going to be able to significantly expand opportunities to meet student demand. The purpose of the center is to provide students with multiple pathways to learn about business — pathways that can complement any major in the curriculum. We don't try to replicate a business school curriculum; we take a distinctively liberal arts approach."

In addition to the co-curricular certificates, another pathway exists for students who are interested in studying business as a topic of analysis in connection with many of the fundamental ethical, political and economic questions facing our world today. The College has recently developed a new interdisciplinary minor in business, ethics, and society, offered through its Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. The minor draws on a range of liberal arts disciplines to help students develop historical, economic, political and philosophical perspectives on the world of business, while exploring overarching questions about the role of business in a just society. In addition to this coursework, students in the minor will complete an internship and participate in relevant workshops offered through the Ciocca Center.

Goldman Sachs employees Isaiah Baker '16 and Anton Marinchik '15 teach a spring break Introduction to Wall Street & Asset Management workshop. Photo by Tom Rettig

The common thread among these pathways is an emphasis on ethical principles, human dignity and the importance of contributing to the common good. "We are not just concerned with what our students will do, we are concerned with who they will be in the world," says Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College. "This is the unique contribution that Holy Cross can make to our students, and to our world, as we prepare some students to become principled business leaders and all to become critically engaged citizens in a world deeply shaped by business."

For Ciocca, whose steadfast support of business and entrepreneurial studies at the College has stretched over decades, this expansion to a center stands out as a major milestone for the College and its students.

"The program has made great progress, but we are just getting started — only scratching the surface," Ciocca says. "This has huge, huge potential for students."

Sarah Anderson '20, is participating in the business fundamentals certificate and is chair of the planning committee for the College's annual Women in Business Conference. She's also the center's first intern, writing the center's new blog and sharing the stories of alumni working in the business field in c-suite roles. She's spent the semester interviewing them about leadership styles and management techniques, and between that and her work with alumnae on the Women in Business Conference, Anderson says that seeing the success of the alumni who have gone before her is motivating.

"We talk a lot here at Holy Cross about the alumni network and the strong connection between those who graduated and current students. The Women in Business Conference is just one example of how willing and excited alumnae are to come back to campus to both connect with their peers and former classmates, and also to make connections with current students and talk to them about their journey and how they got to where they are," says Anderson, an English major and religious studies minor from Westford, Massachusetts. "To hear how an English major can end up in marketing or a history major can go into finance — all the different routes you can take — it is inspiring."

Anderson is eyeing a transition from English major to a marketing career herself, and will spend the summer as an intern at fashion retail company Nick and Zoe in Natick, Massachusetts. She says that what she learned in the workshops for the business fundamentals certificate helped her land the role.

"The workshops are specifically designed to be very hands-on, while also thinking about these business skills from a liberal arts perspective. It is a really unique combination to study marketing or communications skills at a liberal arts school," she says. "I'm not taking classes about these specific things, but between the workshops and the different projects and case studies and competitions that we participate in, we can gain specific skills and put them into practice."

And Anderson is just one of the nearly 500 students on the receiving end of this kind of experience, due to Ciocca's vision. As the work of the center progresses, Chu says, "The most important thing is that we see this as a win-win for Holy Cross — for students and alumni, and for the business community and society."

Written by Maura Sullivan Hill for the Spring 2019 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

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