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College of Business launches center to merge spirituality, business practice

April 23, 2010

The Loyola University New Orleans College of Business launched the Center for Spiritual Capital earlier this spring, directed by Nicholas Capaldi, Ph.D., the Legendre-Soulé Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics.

The center is a first of its kind at a Catholic university and second only in academia to Yale University’s Spiritual Enterprise Institute, which was founded by Capaldi’s close friend Theodore Malloch. Malloch is the author of “Spiritual Enterprise: Doing Virtuous Business” and collaborates with Capaldi on issues of values in business.

The center will feature lectures by speakers with a sound understanding of value-based decision-making and how traditional faiths can play a vital role in retrieving and reinvigorating the spiritual roots of business practice; conferences of scholars and CEOs who delve into the ethics of commerce and the religious roots of business; and forums including journalists, academics, clergy and students on challenges to spirituality in the work world. The center is also developing an online 12-hour graduate certificate program for middle- and upper-level business leaders to analyze key elements of erosion in social virtue and social capital, and critique the teachings of mainstream religious traditions on business.

College of Business Dean William Locander, Ph.D., said that the center will be an identifying feature of the college in the future.

“It will be a full-service resource center providing everything from curriculum enhancement and faculty development to seminar planning and advice to individuals, small corporations and nonprofits,” Locander said. “It is aimed at serving industry leaders and traditional students alike who will exercise more profound roles as entrepreneurs in both commerce and culture.”

Capaldi and co-founder John Levert envisioned the center in fall of 2008, while meeting monthly with a small group of businessmen and women who discussed the intersection of Catholic values and free enterprise. The crash of global financial markets and public condemnation of the seeming greed and lack of morality in American corporations made the center’s foundation especially timely.

“The scandals and recent economic crisis have always informed my teaching,” said Capaldi, who teaches ethics. “But they gave a greater sense of urgency to the founding of the center.”

At the core of the center, Capaldi says, is the notion that wealth obtained honorably contributes to the betterment of society and improves the conditions that keep people flourishing.

“The center wants to emphasize how creating wealth and jobs is one among many ways of achieving social justice,” Capaldi says. “The great debate among Catholics is not whether to, but how to help the poor. There are many ways of doing this that are not mutually exclusive.”

The center will host its first event on May 19, at the Danna Student Center, a dinner and lifetime achievement award tribute to Alden "Doc" Laborde, principled businessman and founder of Tidewater, Inc.

For more information on the dinner, contact Traci Wolff at 504-861-5453 or twolff@loyno.edu. To learn more about the Center for Spiritual Capital, contact Capaldi at capaldi@loyno.edu.

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