The University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Marine Corps are institutions deeply steeped in their traditions. The two came together in September when MBA candidate Doug Hsu received his captain’s bars in a military pinning ceremony on the Notre Dame campus, and chose the MBA admissions director to be part of the ceremony.
Hsu, who graduated in 2000 from Notre Dame with a major in history and international studies, is enrolled in the one-year MBA program at the Mendoza College of Business. He has served more than four years in active duty in the Marine Corps Reserves. He served two deployments to Iraq as an infantry officer and one anti-piracy deployment near Somalia. Currently, he is a reserve officer in a reconnaissance battalion.
In the ceremony, Hsu renewed his oath to defend the Constitution and uphold the responsibilities of a Marine Corps officer. The ceremony, which marked his promotion from lieutenant to captain in the Marine Corps Reserve, is “a great honor” that acknowledges past duty as well as future responsibilities, Hsu said.
For the pinning of the new rank, it is a tradition to choose two special people to remove the insignia of the former rank and pin on the new one. Major David J. Hart, a Marine officer instructor at Notre Dame and Hsu’s commanding officer, was one of the two. For the other, Hsu selected Brian T. Lohr, director of admissions for the Mendoza MBA program.
Hsu chose Lohr “because he is a good friend” and because Lohr is from a military family. Lohr’s father is a retired Army colonel, and he remembers attending his dad’s pinning ceremonies.
Lohr felt privileged to be asked. “I read the actual order from the president of the United States. That was really cool,” he said. “It was one of the best things of my 13 years at Notre Dame, to be asked to do that. What an honor.”
He found there was more to it than just pinning the captain’s bars on Hsu. The tradition in the Marine Corps is “to smack them a bit on the lapel, to make them stay on,” he said.
Lohr noted that Notre Dame has a long and rich tradition with the military. “In Holy Cross Community Cemetery, you can see the grave markers of former clergy who were military chaplains dating back to the Civil War. During World War II, the Navy kept Notre Dame going. The war had depleted the ranks of men in colleges and universities, and the Naval Station Great Lakes sent officers to Notre Dame for their training. It kept Notre Dame’s doors open,” he said, adding that this is one reason Notre Dame plays the U.S. Naval Academy in football every year.
Lohr added that when he is recruiting for the MBA program, he looks for former members of the military. “They are strong and talented people with real leadership experiences. They are disciplined and organized, and add such a great aspect to the class environment.”
Hsu said he chose the Mendoza College of Business for his MBA because of Notre Dame’s value system and the high quality of instruction. He hasn’t decided whether he will go back into active duty or pursue business opportunities such as innovation consulting, but he said he wants to make a difference to the world outside the military. “Hopefully one day I will build my own business and impact the world in a different way,” he said.