Finance is built on the idea that time and uncertainty have value. From this insight, derived from economics and expressed in a language that borrows from economics and accounting, a major in finance teaches students about corporate finance, investments, banking, and quantitative methods. Students learn how corporations and organizations acquire funds and about how they use them, both for the short term and for the long term. Students also learn how the financial system (financial markets and financial institutions) works and how it serves society by making funds available to those who can use them to create value. A Finance major prepares its students to participate in this process of value-creation by giving them specific skills related to corporate financial management and investment analysis, including advanced quantitative skills.
The study of business is the study of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship that increases value for human life in broad terms. Involving as it does an organic complex of personal orientation, analytical skills, specialized knowledge, and acquired habits, the study of business – as the study of what wealth is and how it is created by personal action and judgment – can be a noble and fulfilling path of undergraduate study.
Business administration addresses the complex phenomenon of acting persons engaged in business transactions. Decisions are always based upon judgments of value. The scientific approach to decision-making has an undoubted place, but decisions are always based on imperfect and non-systematic information. Beyond the technical quality of the decision-making process, the worth of a decision depends crucially on its purpose. Hence personal factors – virtues, background, and experience – as well as thought, reflection, common sense, and intuition, make the difference between good and bad business decisions. The acquired habit of prudential weighing the qualitative and quantitative factors involved in business-oriented personal interactions is the cornerstone of the business craft.
Business is a practical endeavor. Indeed, business leaders constantly face critical issues that demand judgment calls, which puts a premium on the acquisition of the habit of prudent action acquired through professional formation, carried out through directed practice and mentoring. Ave Maria’s business education includes exposure and appropriate mastery of the specific knowledge and skills of business, learned in the courses that give students specialized abilities needed for success.
Our students learn the basics in a way that is practical and oriented towards what is necessary to actually run a business. Our students develop and sharpen their skills in communication and analysis, in working with others and working with numbers, in seeing the big picture and in drilling down to details. Our students learn how to think – how to think better, more broadly, more flexibly – which is the best preparation for the changing world of business.
Our majors emphasize analytical thinking and tools: the intellectual equipment and critical skills needed to understand and excel in business and in most other human endeavors. Ave Maria students have the unique fortune of building on a foundation of a liberal education, an education on the basic realities about God and the world, man and his relationship with God and nature. Through our liberal arts curriculum, students learn that reality is coherent and intelligible and grow in the habit – in the essential business skill – of looking for patterns and seeing the sense in the apparent contradictions of the world that surrounds them.
Business can be a tremendous force for good if pursued with rectitude of intention and a clear-minded awareness of the truth of the human person. Carried out with an incorrect understanding of its purpose, business can be destructive and corrosive to the community. Indeed, because it involves human action, business cannot be dissociated from morality and cannot be divorced from virtue. Yet habits of moral action must be learned existentially: virtue cannot be acquired through study alone. Ave Maria Business students are blessed to live and study in a context where moral virtue is valued and instilled, where the practices and expectations of the university community encourage students to choose what is right rather than what is convenient.
The Business program at Ave Maria aims to inspire students to become business leaders inspired by Christian ideals and governed by Christian ideas. Relying on the Catholic faith lived intensely on campus and on the general intellectual formation of the Core Curriculum, what animates the program is the Catholic view of the human person, his nature, and his ultimate destiny. The distinctive character of the program is its belief in the dignity of the human person, in the reality and importance of the common good, in subsidiarity and solidarity, in ownership as stewardship, and in responsibility for the environment. Because students learn to value human beings for what they are, not for what utility they bring, they are able to serve the Church and their society loyally and generously.
Gabriel X. Martinez, Ph.D.