New programs pursue Mendoza’s mission to “grow the good in business”

The Mendoza College of Business launched its Business Honors Program (BHP) in the fall of 2021. Dean Martijn Cremers tapped James Otteson, the John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics, to serve as the program’s faculty director.

According to its website, BHP aims “to provide undergraduate students with the intellectual, moral, and professional formation necessary to become advocates and exemplars of an understanding of business as an honorable enterprise through which individuals can acquire and practice all the human virtues, contribute to the integral development of a society, and serve the common good of all.” Professor Otteson told the Rover that the program “hope[s] to create not only a heightened challenge for students, but also an intellectual and moral community that can enable students to integrate virtue in both their personal and professional lives.”

To that end, all honors students complete two courses that explore the moral purpose of business: “Why Business?” and “Theological Ethics and Business.” Sophomore John Soza told the Rover, “These classes have challenged me … to form stronger arguments for my beliefs about the proper relationship between Catholicism and commerce.”

Additionally, honors students attend several honors colloquia each semester. The colloquia bring prominent academic and business professionals to campus to discuss their careers and topics related to business ethics. 

Speakers this academic year have included Diana Escoda, VP of Innovation and R&D at Clorox; Harry Kemp, Senior VP at Lear Corporation; and most recently Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Bishop Paprocki spoke about virtue, leadership, and his business experience. 

Regarding Paprocki’s talk, Soza commented, “I was most struck by Bishop Paprocki’s desire to be fully integrated into activities he may not have been familiar with, such as accounting or finance, and his willingness to seek out educational opportunities to gain proficiency in these areas. His discussion of the virtue of humility led me to contemplate how I might go about changing my behavior when I am a leader.”

Another pillar of the BHP is community, fostered through frequent Masses, rosaries, meals, service projects, and social gatherings, such as the annual Business Honors Ball, hosted by the program each February. In an interview with the Rover, Professor Otteson noted the importance of these events in promoting friendship and goodwill among the honors students and in helping students recognize that honorable business serves one’s community. Otteson explained, “In order for business to be a ‘noble vocation,’ as Pope Francis calls it, it must create genuine value not only for oneself but for others and one’s community at the same time.” 

In an interview with the Rover, Junior Cam Nash stated, “My favorite part of the program is the focus on cultivating virtue through social and spiritual activities. All of our activities are grounded in faith, aided by our chaplain Fr. Henry, and we learn how to avoid living a ‘divided life’ by always integrating school and work, personal relationships, and faith with each other.”

In addition to the BHP, Dean Cremers announced last April via MendozaExchange the creation of The Business Ethics and Society Program (BESP) to “support teaching, research and other scholarly activities to further understanding of how business can contribute to integral human development.” 

The BESP is also directed by Professor Otteson, who told the Rover: “The purpose of the BESP is to give students an opportunity to explore more deeply what virtue is, by investigating philosophical, theological, literary, and other perspectives. What can these perspectives tell us about what honorable business is and how to lead a virtuous and flourishing life of meaning and purpose as a businessperson?” 

The BESP helped bring Mary Hirschfeld, a prominent scholar at the intersection of theology and economics, to Notre Dame. Hirschfeld and Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy David O’Connor are launching a new minor under the BESP titled Business and the Common Good. The minor provides students with the opportunity to think critically about integral human development and how business can serve the common good.

While many staff and faculty involved with the BHP and BESP are the same, the two are distinct programs. The BESP’s Business and the Common Good minor is available to all Mendoza students, while the BHP is a three-year, application-based program. First-year students pursuing a major in Mendoza can apply during the spring semester to join the BHP in the fall of their sophomore year.

Both programs pursue Mendoza’s mission to “Grow the Good in Business” by exploring how business can contribute to integral human development and providing students with a holistic business education rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. Regarding the two programs, Professor Otteson stated to the Rover, “I hope both programs reflect and embody Notre Dame’s distinctive two-fold mission to be (1) a top teaching and research university and (2) university with a Catholic identity and mission.” 

Offices for the faculty and staff associated with the Business Ethics and Society Program and the Business Honors Program are located in Suite 285 in Mendoza.

Blake Perry is a senior from Spring, Texas studying finance with a minor in constitutional studies. After being quoted in so many Rover articles, he figured he might as well just write one himself. In his free time, Blake enjoys playing guitar and writing original country music. You can contact him at

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