Engelland on business as a vocation

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Dr. Brian Engelland discussed the role that Catholic social teaching plays in a business career. Photo by Kaity Chaikowsky

Constantin College of Liberal Arts Dean Dr. Jonathan Sanford has an ongoing project team looking at creating a University of Dallas center for Catholic social teaching and a possible graduate program.

Because of this interest, Dr. Brian Engelland from the Catholic University of America was asked to speak about his university’s new business school, which has successfully begun to incorporate Catholic social doctrine within the curriculum.

Dr. Brian Engelland, the father of UD philosophy professor Dr. Chad Engelland, spoke in the Thompson Loggia Gallery on Friday, Feb. 3, giving a talk titled “Making the ‘Best Kept Secret’ an Integral Feature of Business Education.”

“My question for this talk is: ‘How do we organize education so that we can produce graduates who allow faith to permeate every aspect of their life, including their work?’ ” Dr. Brian Engelland said.

Engelland works as the associate dean, professor of marketing, and chair of business and economics within the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.

On top of this, he has also written over 70 publications and five books, edited two journals and won multiple teaching awards.

“The Catholic mind is a fantastic mind because we see things clearly and differently than society sees things,” Engelland said. “Catholics see that certain things need to be done in certain ways, and we have this desire to get stuff done, but we need to have business skills in order to carry it off.”

Engelland believes that business is about human relationships.

Human dignity, solidarity, personal freedom and the common good fit together to make a “blueprint” of this conception of business.

In his own school, he helped to institute a system of principles based on the above attributes.

This new system included prayer and faculty retreats, building the community, working on the curriculum, gathering the materials and establishing outreach programs.

“Business is the way to accomplish things in this world,” Engelland said. “There is a place for the government to step in and do something, but oftentimes, it relies on individuals who see an opportunity to organize other individuals, and together, they create a new business that accomplishes the need and solves the problem for the class of citizens that really need the help.”

This program took 18 months to get up and running, but enrollment is now at 765 students, more than double since its beginning, despite the school’s small size. The placement rate currently runs at 95 percent.

According to Engelland, surveys of graduates suggest that they are confident that they know Catholic social doctrine; that is, they can apply it in business situations, they know how it works and they can explain it to others.

“The idea of vocation, why it’s so important, is that once you understand that God created these skills and interests, God expects me to do a great job with this,” Dr. Engelland said. “If I don’t do well with [these skills], then I’m disappointing God.”

The Busch School of Business and Economics prides itself on producing graduates who can be a force for good and who allow faith to permeate every aspect of their lives, including their work.

Dr. Randy Muck, executive in residence for UD, agrees with how Busch accomplishes this:

“[He embeds] the theme and practice of social Catholic teaching throughout”.

“I do believe if you create a foundation around the Catholic social teaching, and put that in layman’s terms, that that creates a wonderful foundation to get the right kind of a culture in a company,” Muck said. “And with that right kind of culture, you’ll get substantial business improvements and substantial satisfaction from your work force.”

In regard to the implementation of Catholic social teaching in UD’s own curriculum, Muck said:

“I think that the University of Dallas is significantly ahead of other major universities, and that the University of Dallas could continue to push our thinking into the next stage of developing business leaders, and business as a vocation and embedding Catholic social teaching in our future business leaders.”

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