Creighton’s Heider College of Business seeks to educate future business leaders who will use their talents to develop strategies that address the challenges we face as a society.
As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Creighton presses upon students to be men and women for and with others, and one way that’s done is by naming students to the Dean’s Honor Roll for Social Responsibility, which is celebrating 30 years.
And it doesn’t take grades to get on this dean’s list.
“We educate the whole person at Creighton,” says Heider professor Beverly Kracher, PhD, the Robert B. Daugherty Endowed Chair of Business Ethics and Society. “Since we have an academic honor roll to celebrate how smart our students are, we wanted to implement a system to celebrate another aspect of students, namely, their sense of service, being part of a community, giving back and showing their strong character.”
The honor roll centralizes volunteer efforts and opportunities, measures impact via reflection and rewards volunteerism with recognition:
Kracher sees it as another way the Heider College of Business prepares students: Accepting service as another facet of their lives and developing character, so they become more willing to step outside of their own worlds to extend themselves to fellow humans in need.
Service, like anything else we value, requires practice. She likens it to dedicating time to perfecting a piano sonata or mastering painting.
“We have many remarkable students at Creighton, good, decent, honest young people who yearn to succeed in a way that captures both their heads and hearts,” says Kracher. “It is our job to create the systems that reinforce a holistic approach to their careers and their lives.”
Heider sophomore Aiden Greer, who is on track to graduate with a master’s degree in accounting and bachelor’s in financial planning, clocked 55 hours of service as a freshman participant, achieving a silver medal both semesters. He is on target to do it again this year. Greer’s service has been with local Omaha nonprofits such as Keep Omaha Beautiful, Sienna-Francis House, City Sprouts and Habitat for Humanity as well as Special Spaces, which designs dream bedrooms for children with cancer, and Refugee Empowerment Center, where he wrote welcome notes in Arabic.
“Not everyone is as privileged as I am,” he says. “Our job on earth is to help people, and this program really helps make that job public so more people can get involved and do their job.”
Autumn Woolpert’s participation has ranged from silver to platinum, working with local nonprofits such as Siena-Francis House, RISE, Intercultural Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity, NorthStar and Omaha Gratitude Summit. Woolpert, a junior finance major on the pre-med track, also volunteered through service trips available to Creighton students.
While tutoring students at Gifford Park Elementary, she saw them advance in their academic development and witnessed what she calls their “a-ha moments,” which was extremely fulfilling.
“Spending time with the students and bonding over shared experiences and goals always brightened my day,” she says.
Service and community engagement has always been important for Woolpert.
“Considering the privilege that comes with being a college student, it’s almost impossible to justify not getting involved in the necessary work being done by so many organizations in Omaha,” she says.
In its mission statement, the Heider College of Business promises to form leaders who use their education to promote justice and improve the world.
“The Heider College of Business does an exemplary job of graduating the next generation of business leaders. That is common knowledge. But what distinguishes a Heider graduate from other business school graduates is we educate industry leaders who are concerned with ethically promoting the common good and human flourishing alongside profitability,” says Anthony R. Hendrickson, PhD, dean of the Heider College of Business. “The Dean's Honor Roll for Social Responsibility is one way we remind our students that their purpose is to serve – all members of society – and not be served. And I am so proud that the program has grown over the last 30 years and continues to enrich the lives of our students and the community around Creighton.”
Over its 30-year history, the honor roll has adapted, says Pam Vaughan, administrative assistant to undergraduate programs at the Heider College of Business and the honor roll’s program secretary.
“We are sending out critical thinkers with empathy and compassion for social justice in the world today,” Vaughan says. “Reflection is very important to our program. Whether it is in-person or writing a reflection paper, students need to hear and see what others are doing. Hopefully it gives incentive to other students to participate in the program.”
Greer believes the Dean’s Honor Roll for Social Responsibility is more than an incentive to give of oneself – it is a reminder amidst busy schedules that we are called to serve. He and his fellow honor roll members are living reminders that young people, with their intrinsic idealism and sense of hope, have a keen desire to pursue the common good, and to use their talents to do so.
Kracher says these students remind us that that where there are “good, decent, honest young people,” hope lives even in the face of economic disparity, war, environmental challenges and political polarity: “The students I meet ... give me hope that it’s going to be OK, that they, as our future leaders, have the moral character and perspective to continue to create a just and caring world.”