Days of discovery
Author: Betsy Kall Brosnan (BBA '76)
My years at Notre Dame’s Business School spanned the early years of undergraduate coeducation at the University, from the fall of 1972 to May of 1976, when I earned my accounting degree. It was an exciting time in the business school in the 1970s. The relatively new Hayes-Healy Building was our home. The building had a reputation as “too modern.” There was a lot of talk about it being stark, lacking the character of the older buildings around campus. I loved the atmosphere of the building; it felt alive to me. I suspect that was because I spent so much time there and also because it was in a few of my business classes that I discovered what I was meant to do with my life.
Three themes stand out as I contemplate the impact of my Notre Dame experience on not only my professional life but my personal life as well. It was not until I attended a class in business ethics, my favorite class by far, that the entire educational experience came together for me. I realized that points discussed in freshman psychology or religion class could be applied to situations I would see in the business world of my future. That training in ethical thinking was as important in the 1970s as it is today, and was a basis of my decision making process during my 43-year career as a CPA in public practice.
The second theme that stands out in my reflection is the call to volunteerism in my professional and personal lives that was fertilized during my Notre Dame years. Having begun my “volunteer life” as a 16-year-old aide at my local hospital, I followed that by tutoring at the Logan Center near campus in my early years at ND. It was exciting to then work with accounting Professor James Wittenbach in the Tax Assistance Program, providing tax filing services to low-income South Bend residents. Professor Wittenbach stressed the importance of giving back through one’s profession. Thus, it was so fitting when I started my dream job in the tax department of the Chicago office of Arthur Andersen (one of the “Big Eight” accounting firms ) that I was able to select a volunteer opportunity from a list provided by Andersen to meet the needs of Chicago area not-for-profits. The seeds of community involvement planted in those early years of my education and career led me to an active life within the not-for-profit communities of both my professional and personal lives that I continue to this day, even after retiring from the workplace.
Finally, I can’t say enough about the relationships in my life that have as their beginnings my association with Notre Dame. My husband of 44 years, Pete Brosnan, with whom I raised three remarkable children, is also an ND accounting graduate of the Class of 1976. My business partner of 22 years is Margaret O’Grady Brennan, ND Class of 1974. She and I started, grew and sold a seven-person CPA practice that, by the way, was completely staffed by women. And I am humbled to say that some of my most long-standing client relationships are with fellow ND graduates. There is no greater honor than to have the trust of friends and peers as they navigate their personal, business and financial lives. For all of these relationships I am eternally grateful.
Submitted by Betsy Kall Brosnan, Class of 1976