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Center Marks 10 Years of Global Efforts to Change the Way Business is Done

November 8, 2018

Ten years ago, in the middle of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and following on the heels of business scandals like Enron and Bernie Madoff, Benedictine University launched the Center for Values-Driven Leadership. The Center’s objective was to find values-driven leaders and companies, study these exemplars, tell their stories, and develop their leaders, in order to shape the global conversation around how business is done.

“We made our mission clear from early on,” says Jim Ludema, Ph.D., director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a professor of global leadership with Benedictine University. “We wanted to help values-driven leaders develop themselves and others, so they can build flourishing companies that transform business and society.”

Now, as the Center celebrates its 10th anniversary, executives point toward the Center’s influence in their personal and corporate leadership.

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Ph.D., is one of the 43 graduates of the Center’s executive doctoral program in values-driven leadership. Hannan is the national board chair of Girl Scouts USA and a former National Managing Partner and Vice Chair with global consulting firm KPMG. “The Center challenges executives to approach business with a more ethical, sustainable, and inclusive model,” says Hopinkah Hannan. “They connect business leaders with the most innovative and thought-provoking scholars in the field, and the results have been extraordinary.”

Naperville-based CEO Steve Carter, Ph.D., of national relocation and change management firm Carter Inc., credits the Center with an important transformation in his business. Because of his studies, he was able to diagnose a challenge he found in the change projects of many of his clients. Executives were losing sight of the vision over the course of long change efforts, leading to misunderstandings and lost enthusiasm.

“The Center gave me a new understanding of the importance of vision being communicated; that has to be the red thread that gets pulled through the project,” says Carter. “That kind of thinking is directly attributable to Benedictine’s program,” and has changed the way he approaches client work.

A decade of game-changing accomplishments
Ten years after its founding, the Center is pausing to celebrate the successes of the last decade. “Our work is inspiring leaders to think and lead differently, to do business the right way: with purpose, integrity, and excellence,” says Ludema.

The Center’s work focuses in three primary areas: education, research, and practice. In education, the Center launched a Ph.D./D.B.A. program in values-driven leadership, for senior executives in 2011. Now in its fourth cohort and with 74 students and graduates, the program was named the #1 doctoral program in leadership in 2017 and 2018, by (A fifth cohort will begin in Spring 2019.) Student and faculty have produced 43 dissertations, three best paper awards, and dozens of academic publications.

Research at the Center focuses broadly on the link between culture and profit, and is being done inside global firms like Abbvie, McDonald’s, and Ford Motor Company, as well as leading local firms like Magnetrol International and Tuthill Corporation. The Center’s Return on Values research initiative, produced 42 instructional case videos, part of the Center’s overall video collection which has been viewed on YouTube 116,000 times. Additional research initiatives focus on important questions such as:

  • What’s in the DNA of great values-driven companies?
  • How do they deliver superior financial performance over time, attract and retain top talent, set strategy and manage money, integrate values into daily decision-making, and make work meaningful?
  • How do they leverage diversity and inclusion, cross cultural boundaries, manage corporate social responsibility, and lead on a global scale?
  • And what is the role of the CEO and senior leadership team in creating culture and building great performance-driven, values-based firms?

Through a weekly column at, three eBooks, and 500 practitioner publications, the Center has inspired executives and offered insights for leading performance-oriented organizations from a values-driven perspective. The Center has also worked with dozens of companies to provide consulting services, executive education, and leadership development programming.

“The most rewarding moments have been hearing from our executive students and clients, who tell us, ‘What I learned, I put to work on Monday morning,’” says Ludema.

“We believe business has the power to change the world; we want to be part of the transformative impact of business as a force for good.”

Celebrating 10 Years
The Center will host a day of celebration on November 9, 2018, including a senior executive roundtable, open to the public, with participants from global companies such as Boeing, Cigna, Ford Motor Company, and Exelon, along with CEOs of local firms including The Carter Group, Tuthill Manufacturing, and Inspera Health. Keynoting the roundtable is Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, the world’s leading scholar on positive emotions; she will be leading an interactive session on positive leadership and its ability to create and sustain lasting change. More details are available at

Representatives of the press are invited to attend this event and meet with faculty, students, graduates, and business partners who are available for interview.

More information on the executive doctoral program and its graduates can be found at


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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