Alumnus initiates partnership with College of Business and Management

Thursday, April 3, 2014 4:10:00 PM

Bill O’Toole, ’91, president and CEO of Catholic Financial Life in Milwaukee, has a unique perspective on Stritch’s role in developing meaningful partnerships throughout the state. He earned his MBA from Stritch and recently worked with the University to bring its business and management programs on site at Catholic Financial Life.

O’Toole reached out to Stritch to develop the partnership with his organization, which provides financial security to Catholic families through life insurance and annuities.

Several Catholic Financial Life employees are now enrolled in the associate of science in business program on-site at Catholic Financial Life. Plans are also in the works to bring the MBA program there.

“For us, providing the opportunity for our employees and associates to achieve their degree with a highly-respected, accredited university is a terrific fit,” O’Toole said. “We made it as convenient as possible because we know the impact that this education can have.”

The on-site programs also welcome students from outside the organization.

None of O’Toole’s employees or associates has received his or her Stritch diploma yet, but the impact of the program has nonetheless been felt within the organization.

“Stritch’s curriculum has helped them see the bigger picture, to think critically,” O’Toole said. “We’ve already noticed changes in our people taking on more responsibility. We encourage as many of our associates as are willing to enroll in the program."

There are other examples of how the College connects the classroom experience with the broader community. The curriculum is based on high-impact educational practices, including an emphasis on internships, community-based learning, capstone courses and projects.

“That emphasis on community business and economic needs is highly valued here,” O’Toole said. “People in the program can connect and apply what they are learning immediately.”

In addition, all Stritch business and management students are asked to plan and complete a community service project as part of their academic experience, allowing them to apply practical and strategic thinking in a manner that serves others across the state. This underscores the University’s focus on Franciscan values and social responsibility.

“The community is truly our classroom,” said Dr. Peter Holbrook, dean of the College. “Our graduates are thoroughly prepared to step into the 21st century workforce with the skills necessary to make a positive impact. Our goal is to prepare adaptive, ethical graduates who will help businesses and communities achieve a balance of people, planet and profit.”