We are writing in response to the very thoughtful letter (2/22/19) by Marie Therese Kane ‘18 regarding the recent $2 million gift from Arthur and Carlyse Ciocca for the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society, which was matched by an additional $1.5 million from the Charles Koch Foundation. We appreciated Ms. Kane’s careful research and review of the gift agreement, which is publicly available. She raised several important questions, to which we would like to respond briefly.
The vision for the Ciocca Center was developed here at Holy Cross, before any potential donors were involved. That vision does indeed “imply a powerful critique of the status quo” and “challenge students to do business differently.” The proposal calls for “a new kind of business model grounded in concern for ethical principles, human dignity and the common good” and emphasized the need to “speak up against the single-minded pursuit of short-term profits at the expense of long-term value creation for multiple constituencies: consumers, employees, shareholders and society at large.” The Center’s vision statement thus echoes a longstanding concern within Catholic social teaching and is entirely consistent with our identity as a Jesuit liberal arts college.
The activities supported by this new infusion of funds directly address this core vision as well as the College’s mission, including financial aid and stipends for students, programming to foster dialogue about how business might genuinely contribute to the common good, and support for faculty to design and teach courses and workshops.
Every decision regarding the Ciocca Center will be made by faculty and administrators at the College. The College has full control over all hiring, curriculum and programming, in accordance with our existing policies and procedures as well as our high standards of academic freedom and excellence. This independence is enshrined in the gift agreement. None of our funders has asked for any influence in the operations of the Center. All private foundations reserve the right to suspend grant funding if they feel the recipient makes changes that are considered material to the purpose or success of the grant.
Ms. Kane also expressed concern that continued funding is predicated upon the foundation’s annual approval. This provision is designed to allow the College flexibility to adjust its spending and request only the funding it needs each year to support the specific activities we plan to undertake, rather than returning or rolling over unspent funds. The agreement additionally states that the College is not obligated to undertake an activity if funds are not received. Furthermore, the majority of the Center’s funding comes from other sources, including Mr. Ciocca’s original endowed gift as well as gifts from other alumni. We are grateful for these additional matching funds which will help us expand our activities and provide financial aid and internship support to more students.
In embarking on any new initiative, it is essential that the College establish its own values, principles and goals, articulate them clearly to potential donors, and then adhere to them. This is our approach to evaluating all potential gift opportunities, including this one. We believe unequivocally in the values and mission of the Center, and hope that over time many more constituencies will be inspired to support its work.
Margaret N. Freije, Provost and Dean of the College
Loren Cass, Dean of Experiential Learning and Student Success
David Chu, Director of Certificate Programs and Prebusiness Advisor, Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society