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In response to “Against Mendoza”: Gotcha journalism has no place under the dome

| Friday, April 1, 2022

My name is Stephen Viz, and I write my response to Jim Moster’s piece with a background that mirrors his quite well. A current Master of Science in Management student here at the Mendoza College of Business, I graduated from Holy Cross College last May with a BA in Liberal Studies, which was a program that prepared me quite well for a continued educational career at Mendoza. In June, I am going to continue my schooling through Notre Dame’s One-Year MBA program, and I can hardly contain my excitement in preparation to begin this last chapter of my time here in the tri-campus community. I have had the great fortune of work experiences at companies such as the Royal Bank of Canada and the Boeing Company, and at each step along the way I have learned that I am not only a critical thinker who loves their faith, but a student who wants to solve problems in unique and creative ways. This understanding has been a shared backbone of every encounter and relationship I’ve developed at the Mendoza College of Business, as I have been impassioned by the support I have received in my personal journey to strive for excellence in defense of the common good. 

While Jim denotes that most careers in business are socially irresponsible, I would beg to differ, as the gold standard for socially responsible work in business stands to be found here at Notre Dame. For starters, look no further than the example of Jimmy Dunne to see that socially responsible work can be done for the common good, both inside and outside of the firm. But for me, thankfully I have seen this unquenchable thirst for service be relayed to me in real time. The day before the Notre Dame/Wisconsin game at Soldier Field, I was to catch a train from the south side of the city to allow me to spend the night downtown before the game. I missed my first train, giving me an hour to kill before the next train arrived. I never got the chance to kill this hour, however, as I spent it and the following train ride talking with a Notre Dame alum who had just so happened to miss the first train as well. A 1978 pre-med graduate and later recipient of a Mendoza Graduate degree, it turned out this alum was commuting by train 100 minutes each way to operate his own private practice. This long train commute was only present because of a massive heart attack he had suffered only six months prior, leaving him unable to drive for quite some time. But here he was, up and working when other medical professionals had told him it would be impossible. 

As our conversation grew, I learned that the pursuit of the common good was the sole reason why this doctor and professional was still working and making the commute, as in placing his patients and employees before his own inconveniences, he inspired me in his fight for the common good. And this story was possible because of the providence of a shared missed train. If this doesn’t stand to be socially responsible work, then I don’t know what is. 

Jim, speaking as a member of the Program of Liberal Studies, noted the frequent stereotypes that Mendoza College of Business students are known for. He repeated the campus wide retorts that Mendoza students, or “MenBROza” students as we are frequently belittled, are white wealthy frat-boy types who are handed down jobs at Goldman Sachs after four years of closing down CJ’s on Thursdays and Newf’s on Fridays. This rhetoric is necessary to include because when I was a freshman at Holy Cross College, I came to O’Shaughnessy Hall for an event that involved other students who were interested in the PLS major. While walking around the room I struck up a conversation with a fellow freshman who asked me what my summer had consisted of. After I responded that I had worked a demanding two-job schedule to save up for tuition, he smirked and reminisced about how wonderful his summer was spent across Europe, traveling before the rigors of the academic year started. 

Later, during the initial Covid-19 quarantine, this same student slid into my Dad’s DMs on LinkedIn, asking for book suggestions while holed up in his family’s place in Jackson Hole. While it is safe to say that I never returned to O’Shaughnessy Hall, perhaps Jim’s critique is of trends found in the entirety of Notre Dame’s student body, not just Mendoza’s. And while yes, it is unfortunate to see that the stereotypes of both PLS and Mendoza students are more alike than different, this type of rhetoric is not only damaging but it is detrimental of what we stand to be as Notre Dame Students. This University is home to us all, and while it is necessary that we are critical of administrative functions and values, it is also vital that we offer more to the conversation than just complaints and critiques. “Here is what we are doing well, but here is what we could be doing better” is a start, but I make no mistake in defending that Mendoza’s promotion of the social good through commerce is not superficial nor is it ineffective. With every member of the faculty and staff at the school for a reason, I would find it hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t believe that “Growing the good in business” doesn’t work. And as Mendoza continues to climb up the business school rankings, more and more students and outsiders will see that this mission statement isn’t a gimmick but an outlet for creativity, philanthropy, fulfillment, faith and fellowship. 

The proper rhetoric is to see that like myself, hundreds of students have not been “sold” on Mendoza’s ethos and culture, but rather see it as an avenue of institutional infrastructure that grants students the knowledge and networking to use their skills for the better, no matter their socioeconomic background or career path. And while Jim uses Nietzsche as his reasoning for questioning Mendoza, I will use a contemporary thinker located on Notre Dame’s campus in my defense of it. Fr. Bill Dailey is my mentor and rector here in Pangborn Hall, and his path to the priesthood began with personal questioning on how he could best serve the common good. A graduate from both Notre Dame and Columbia Law, Fr. Dailey has served the common good as a benevolent rector and friend to many, and his expertise on the world actually intersects with the world of business. My favorite homily of his came last month in discussion of Matthew 19:21-24, where Jesus stressed the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven. Fr. Dailey stressed that while wealth surely has had a grip on the human heart, it has been used for grand and glorious things, such as the development of our beautiful campus and has lifted a billion people out of poverty through economic growth. Capitalism is a tool, and it is up to people who are willing to shun material riches for the betterment of all to use this tool properly. True leadership is derived from sacrifice, and I am that happy to say any selfish goals that are said to exist in Mendoza are contrived from a viewpoint that see the college as a broken experiment, instead of a leading force for good. At Mendoza, my mind has not been cultivated at the expense of my heart, but rather challenged to do better in the way I choose to act and see the world. If the college can claim this for even a small percentage of students, Mendoza will continue to provide a blueprint for the common good and commerce, putting its time, money and effort where its heart is.  


Stephen Viz

RA, Pangborn Hall 

Notre Dame MSM/MBA ‘23


The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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