Mendoza School of Business

100 Years of Global Perspective

Author: Phil Calandra (BBA '72)

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Call me a liar. For years I’ve advertised myself as a graduate of the Mendoza College of Business. But I’m not.  Heck, the Business School at Notre Dame didn’t even become Mendoza until 2000.

I landed at ND in 1968. Instead of handing you an iPad upon arrival they gave you a stone tablet and chisel, and admonished you to pay close attention in class and take good notes. I’m not certain what our College was called when I received my 1972 degree in Finance and Business Economics. Was it The Edward N. Hurley College of Foreign and Domestic Commerce? Maybe not. But that’s what the carved stones above the school’s front entrance indicated. Same now. My father-in-law’s 1943 diploma says College of Commerce. A classmate says it was simply the College of Business Administration in 1972. I’d check my diploma for clarification – if I knew exactly where it is.

In any case, we’re celebrating our centennial because it was 1921 when the Commerce Department left the College of Arts and Letters to become the College of Commerce. John Francis O’Hara, C.S.C., (later ND President and then a Cardinal) was the first Dean. O’Hara, who had studied at Wharton, hoped to place ND and its graduates at the epicenter of Western Hemisphere trade.

In 1924, James E. McCarthy succeeded O’Hara as Dean, a post he would keep until 1955. McCarthy too was an outspoken advocate of free trade and friendly with many of the nation’s leading CEOs. During his tenure, the College rose greatly in prominence and visibility, hugely increased its number and quality of courses, and became the University’s largest academic division increasing to 1,500 students.

Dean McCarthy secured a large donation from Edward N. Hurley, a highly successful Chicago area Irish American businessman, inventor and University trustee. In his November 8, 1930 letter to University President Charles L. O’Donnell, CSC, Hurley complimented the University for “featuring the great importance of foreign trade to the future industrial development of our country”. Later in the letter, Hurley announced, “I wish to contribute to the University the sum of $200,000.00 for the erection of a new building to be known as the College of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.”

Edward Hurley underlined his perspective on the importance of global commerce by requesting “the four walls of the main hall of the new building (Hurley Hall) have a mural painting in colors a map of all countries of the world, showing the seven seas and the trade routes featuring the seaports of the world.” He went on to say, “this map should impress the students with the importance and responsibility of the United States in the world of commerce. And it should help the students to realize that the same economic problems we have are to be found in all countries and that peoples of the world share our ambitions to make their respective countries better places in which to live.”

The world, of course, has changed drastically since the 1932 building dedication. Fortunately, the foyer of Hurley Hall has not. The nations on the murals and on the subsequently added giant globe remain frozen in time, testimony both to Edward Hurley’s prescient international vision and the generations of ND business students he sought to inspire.

Ask me how “global” our business education was during my ND years and I’d say it depended on your major. Global orientation seemed minimal in introductory Accounting, Management and Marketing courses. But the Finance and Business Economics discipline was very different. Today we might say that curriculum had “global DNA” at its core, and amongst its rock-star faculty. And fortunately, all business students had to take at least a few Finance courses.

Raymond P. Kent taught us Money and Banking with a definite global perspective – when not editing his widely used textbook on the subject. He taught us that money was about relative buying power, and outside the country its value was affected by foreign exchange. Hopefully he didn’t need to explain that same concept when called upon to testify in front of the U.S. Congress in 1968.

Bernie Kilbride, Department Chairman, did a wonderful job explaining the intricacies of stocks, bonds, commodity futures and other investment vehicles. But he was quick to remind us that despite immense size and clout, the markets of New York and nearby Chicago weren’t the only “games in town”. We learned there were other exchanges of consequence around the globe, all interconnected.  If asked, Bernie was happy to lead students to Europe for a closer look.

Ed Trubac was probably the professor of that era Edward Hurley would have most appreciated. His specialties were macroeconomics, forecasting and growth – all with a decidedly global bent. His teaching brilliance was conveying with unusual clarity how global macroeconomics impacts corporate finance and ultimately business outcomes. From my four semesters as his student assistant I knew Ed had a healthy consulting practice on the side, with multinationals among his clientele. I wasn’t surprised to learn that in 1988 he was one of a small handful of U.S. academics queried and quoted in a New York Times article: “Business Strategies for the End of the Reagan Era.”

Ed passed away in 2020, after retiring as an Associate Dean in 2004. Among her comments submitted to the Mendoza College to honor him, Carolyn Woo, former Mendoza Dean, said the following. ““Ed Trubac’s contributions to the Mendoza College cannot be exaggerated.  Ed stepped up to make every situation better and fortified the structures, standards, and resources of the business college that laid the groundwork for its eventual rise to excellence.”

So, there you have it. Mendoza – or whatever it was called when you were present. Forward thinking, and global in perspective and intention, all the way back to 1921. Already an “A List” destination for corporate recruiters 50 years ago. Today, without question, one of the world’s elite business schools. Happy 100th Birthday!


Topics: BBA