FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Two Sacred Heart University alumni have become deans of college business schools: Mark Ritter ’21 at LaSalle University’s School of Business in Pennsylvania and Thomas Kushner ’19 at Endicott College’s School of Business in Massachusetts. Both graduated from SHU’s doctor in business administration (DBA) in finance program in the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology (WCBT).
Ritter joined the SHU community in 2016 after board trustee William Mitchell told him he “looked bored” when discussing his investment banking career. The comment inspired Ritter to dust off his résumé and meet with SHU President John J. Petillo, who suggested he join the WCBT. He did so and began sharing his experiences and guiding students as one of the college’s executive-in-residence.
The role piqued his interest in teaching, so he began instructing several classes each year. While completing a fellowship at Harvard University in 2017, Ritter became interested in studying again and considered SHU’s DBA in finance program. With encouragement from Lucjan Orlowski, the program director, Ritter enrolled in 2018.
“The DBA in finance program has been transformational for me and a number of other people,” said Ritter. “It’s not just a degree or a couple of extra letters after your name; it really did change my career path.”
SHU's DBA in finance program is designed to advance students’ career opportunities, decision-making, leadership and analytical skills and to enhance their research. It is a three-year, low-residency program that allows students to continue working their full-time jobs as they earn their degree. Students who earn their degree from the WCBT are earning their degree from one of fewer than five percent of college business schools worldwide accredited by AACSB International.
Ritter became dean of LaSalle University’s School of Business Nov. 1. One of his main goals is to reinvigorate and expand some of the business schools undergraduate and graduate programs. At the same time, Ritter is pursuing his second doctorate degree in education policy from Drexel University in Pennsylvania.
Kushner is a ‘finance guy’
Kushner’s interest in academia began when friends who are instructors invited him to guest-lecture in their classes. They saw how natural teaching came for him, so they suggested he think about instructing business courses after he retires. He originally thought he and his wife would move out of the Northeast after retirement, but that changed when he saw an advertisement for Sacred Heart’s DBA in finance program on a Metro North train.
“I’m a finance guy. Many other DBA programs are very general in nature, so I thought SHU’s program would be a great way to set myself up for retirement and a career as a professor,” said Kushner.
Having been out of school for many years and working full-time, Kushner worried about returning to the classroom as a student. He credits Khawaja Mamun, professor in the economics & finance department, for helping him manage part-time doctoral studies while working. Mamun taught him not only how to maximize learning and information retention, but also about the art and science of teaching.
Kushner has been dean of Endicott College’s School of Business since 2022. One of his main goals has been to bring industry experts and leaders to campus. He says this enables students to form connections and helps them determine their next steps post-graduation.
Ritter and Kushner worked together in the 2000s at UBS, an investment bank and financial services company, in Stamford and were reunited when they enrolled in SHU’s DBA program. They are both strong program advocates and said it has changed the trajectory of their lives.
Orlowski is proud to see graduates accomplishing so much through the program. “I am thrilled that Mark and Tom have taken these next steps in their careers in academia. Their success attests to how the DBA in finance program can enhance students’ career opportunities,” he said.
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 389 Colleges: 2024 Edition, and Best Business Schools: 2023 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliate station, WSHU Public Radio, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu