People in business will have more impact on our society than any other profession, because they employ thousands of people and impact even more lives due to the families who depend on them, said Tim Busch as he addressed students at the new Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America.
Busch and his wife, Steph, donated $15 million dollars toward the creation of the business school, which opened in 2013, in order to ensure that the people impacting society through business were being formed in a setting that emphasizes Catholic social teaching.
“I saw this as an opportunity where we could make a huge impact at the most important Catholic University in America, and one of the most important Catholic universities in the world,” Busch said.
The mission of the Busch School of Business and Economics is to provide education and scholarship informed by the principles of human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good, in order to form students who will influence society in a positive way. During his Nov. 15 address, Busch noted that in the last 40 years, the free market system has raised 80 percent of the people of the world out of poverty.
“This business school is about educating people on free market principles, but doing it in a holistic, and what we call principled entrepreneurship method,” Busch said. “The reason business got a bad name…is because there were too many people trying to make money (just) for the purpose of making money...”
Busch grew up in Michigan, and now lives in Southern California, where he founded the Busch Firm, the Pacific Hospitality Group, Trinitas Winery, two Catholic schools, the Napa Institute, and the Magis Center. He didn’t know much about Catholic University until he got a call from the Board of Trustees about 13 years ago, inviting him to be a part of the board. He recalled being “absolutely intimidated” at his first meeting, as he was sitting among large groups of bishops and CEOs.
Then, in 2012, when Andrew Abela decided that he wanted to start a business school, Tim and Steph Busch were large supporters, donating the largest gift ever received by Catholic University. When added to the donations of five others, the new business school has received a total of $47 million in donations, which will go toward academic programs, the renovation of Maloney Hall to house the new school, and the new Human Ecology Institute which will study the relationships of human beings to themselves and the world around them. Since its founding in 2013, the business school has grown to include 23 percent of undergraduate enrollment.
Busch spoke about what makes Catholic University, and the business school in particular, special.
First, it is located in the capital of the free world and it is the capital of the American Roman Catholic Church, Busch said. He pointed out that Catholic University is the only pontifical university in the United States, which means it is directly connected to the Vatican. Whenever popes come to visit the United States, they always come to Catholic University, which Busch said means they understand that it is their university.
“We’re the pope’s business school, we ought to act like it by teaching Catholic social teaching,” he said.
Busch described the curriculum of the new business school as “a seminary for lay business people,” saying that they need to send students out into the marketplace “who are not just educated in accounting and finance and marketing, but who understand what it is to be a person, who understand what Catholic social teaching is, and understand their responsibility as stewards of God’s resources.”
In an April 2016 Forbes article, Busch wrote, “Business leaders have a moral duty to increase opportunities for the poor to provide for themselves and their families through dignified work – such “co-creation” is a direct reflection of God Himself.”
Busch discussed this process of “co-creating” with the Catholic University students, explaining that it is when “God gives us our intellect and our ambition, and we take our free will and we use… prayer to Him to create what we have today.” Through prayer, he said, it is possible to discern what is “good profit,” and helps not only the business executive, but also everyone involved in the transaction.
“As a businessman, I spend more time praying than I ever did as a student, because the responsibilities are huge and no person can handle all these responsibilities,” Busch said.
Busch has a chapel in his office, where he has Mass every day, and also has chapels in two of the hotels in his Pacific Hospitality Group. He encouraged students to bring God back into the public square, which he does by leading prayer even in secular settings, and talking to people on his team, who he said have diverse religious traditions, about his belief in God.
“We are greater with God at our side than not,” he said.
We spend so much time in the temporal world, Busch said, but “life is so much more than that.” He reminded the students that they are each invited to have a personal relationship with Jesus, but that they must chose to pursue it. He encouraged the students not to be impressed with how much money was given to the school, but rather to be impressed that “you can be successful in this world, temporally, and do it in a honest and sincere way, but always in communion with God and His plan.”