New Ciocca Center Director Looks to Expand Student Opportunities, Business Curriculum

Former international business executive Robert Murner wants to build on the center’s foundation to position students for post-graduate success.

Business executive and adjunct faculty member Robert Murner begins this semester as the new director of the Carlyse and Arthur A. Ciocca ’59 Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at the College of the Holy Cross.

He joined the College in spring 2019 as an adjunct professor, teaching the center’s business fundamentals lab. Murner started his career in the U.S. Air Force and then spent 30 years as a strategic and global executive, where he worked with public, private and startups in the aerospace and defense, materials sciences, healthcare, manufacturing and software industries. Murner holds a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wright State University. 

What is your goal for the center and what are your priorities?

First, we will be working to bring more of Art Ciocca’s vision, language and practices to the forefront of our organization. He viewed business as an enabler of products and services that benefited society. He felt strongly that employees are a competitive advantage and that a company culture needs to offer a place for them to flourish. Art and Carlyse believe that culture trumps strategy, and it is the key to providing customers the best experience and essential for the long-term success of a company. 

Second, we have to keep flying the plane and not lose sight of our core workshops and seminars. I have a wonderful staff to keep this on track while we work together on new offerings, including adding two workshops to our curriculum: Entrepreneurship Mindset and Business Strategy & Innovation.

We’re also working on new strategic initiatives, including:

  • Implementing a mentorship program
  • Moving our student incubator program, HC Launch, to the center of our Entrepreneurship & Innovation Certification and positioning it to become a true business incubator
  • Becoming more connected with our extended local business communities by interacting with chambers of commerce, visiting businesses and providing opportunities for business leaders to come and engage our students
  • Initiating a Sader Talks (TED Talk format) initiative. We would like to partner with the Prior Performing Arts Center to professionally stage, record and edit these talks. It will also provide an opportunity for business leaders or others with inspirational messages to address our students with a crisp 15-minute presentation.

What types of opportunities and experiences does the center offer students of all majors?

Seventy-five to 85% of Holy Cross graduates start or work for a business upon graduation. The College has a rich history of successful alumni in this domain. Many of the alumni I have spoken with state that their entrance into the world of business would have been much easier had they been exposed in college and become more familiar with the language of business. Our certifications in Business Fundamentals, Finance & Banking and Entrepreneurship provide this exposure and better positions students to take advantage of their liberal arts education to enter into and succeed in business. I encourage students to visit the center’s website for more in depth information about the certifications and other opportunities.