A New Approach to Leadership Craft

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A New Approach to Leadership Craft

The new Leadership Institute at Franciscan University works to form virtuous leaders.

Autumn 2021 | Tom Sofio

In This Article

A new academic initiative debuted this fall: the Leadership Institute at Franciscan University.

The institute is based on the simple premise that our world is in desperate need of virtuous leaders. To the point— we need highly skilled, Catholic leaders who can pursue their special talents and embrace leadership roles wherever God calls them—business or education, science or technology, family life or religious life.

Franciscan University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, said, “Franciscan University has formed ethical leaders for many decades but believe we are now being called to be even more intentional about this. The Leadership Institute will form Christian men and women who have the courage and ability to accept roles of leadership and positively impact our culture and Church.”

As it ramps up over the next two years, the Leadership Institute will offer an executive leadership speaker series, develop and facilitate leadership workshops grounded in Christian virtues, establish a center dedicated to Catholic social teaching in the workplace, sponsor visiting fellows on Franciscan’s campus, and launch an Entrepreneurship Program.


“The Leadership Institute will form Christian men and women who have the courage and ability to accept roles of leadership and positively impact our culture and Church.’’


The institute is led by Executive Director Doug Perry, who has served as an executive in residence at Franciscan University and as chairman of the University’s Business Advisory Board. Earlier in his career, Perry was the vice president for Global Compliance at Honeywell International Inc. and a partner at the law firms of Sheppard Mullin and Fried Frank.

“Today’s culture too often emphasizes social change over individual accountability and ethics grounded in virtuous lives,” said Perry. “As Catholics, we are called to be servant leaders—to speak the truth and to lead with courage, modesty, and integrity. The Leadership Institute will help the Franciscan community embrace a conscious leadership role grounded in the teachings of Christ.”

One of the institute’s most highly anticipated offerings is an Entrepreneurship Program that will lead to an academic minor in entrepreneurship. Slated to start in fall 2022, the Entrepreneurship Program will be open to students of all majors and will develop new courses built from the ground up based on input from entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The curriculum will include the nuts and bolts of starting a new business, franchise operation, or nonprofit; human resource management; marketing for small businesses and nonprofits; and finance and accounting for non-business majors.

There will also be entrepreneurship simulations and competitions with prize money for students who present the most compelling business plans for both profit and nonprofit ventures.

“This is a unique opportunity to affect the way small businesses are created,” said Dr. Thomas Kelly, chair of the Franciscan University Business Department. “Guided by Catholic social teaching and fueled by a relentless drive for innovation, our students will be well equipped to establish for-profit and not-for-profit entities as well as ministries that serve the Church and society.”

The Leadership Institute is one of many components of Franciscan University’s Rebuild My Church Strategic Plan, the new blueprint that will guide the University’s programs and initiatives in the coming years.

Father Pivonka said the University needs to throw a larger net, to expand how and where we engage the culture.

“One way this will happen is by having proven leaders teach and engage our students so we can send these students out to rebuild the Church and the world.”


For more information on the Leadership Institute at Franciscan University, visit our website or send us an email. 

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