James M. Denny, a noted philanthropist to Catholic and community organizations and President of Two Rivers L.L.C., recently established a $100,000 endowment to further Lewis University’s focus on business ethics and to honor a Lewis faculty member, Father Kevin Spiess, Professor of Business Administration.
The endowment creates an opportunity for faculty, students, and administrators in the College of Business to engage in discussion and reflect upon the important role that ethical and religious considerations play in daily choices as well as the impact these choices have on communities, providing a solid foundation and emphasis on the importance of moral development and personal integrity in achieving personal and professional success.
“Ultimately, the university is preparing students to go out into the real world. I saw importance in providing a way to continue concentrating on the fundamental values and ethics that Lewis provides to future business leaders,” Denny commented.
“I appreciate the chance to participate in the advancement of Lewis and provide recognition for a truly deserving man, Father Spiess,” he continued. During his more than 40 years at Lewis, Father Spiess has taught more than 4,000 students. He is known for his creativity in using a variety of tools to promote discussions in the classroom about various business situations and their ethical implications. He has been a full-time professor since 1979, past Dean of the College of Business and Graduate School of Management, an Assistant to the President, and currently is a distinguished Professor of Business Administration as well as the Director of the Master’s in Project Management program. He also has taught or moderated programs at the University of Notre Dame Business School, Chatham College and Harvard University.
In reflecting on his decision to create the endowment, Denny noted: “The accomplishments made through the leadership of Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, the faculty, the Board of Trustees and the entire Lewis community led me to wonder how to continue the tradition of a strong education in ethics while also honoring a man dedicated to instilling in business students a sense of integrity, a trait needed in light of ethics in the country today.”
A noted philanthropist, Denny is President of a family investment firm. Prior to leading his own firm, Denny served from 1986 to 1995 as Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chairman for the retail and financial services conglomerate, Sears, Roebuck, and Co., which included oversight responsibility for its Allstate Insurance and Coldwell Banker Real Estate units. Earlier, he held various executive positions at other organizations. Denny received an honorary doctorate degree in May 2012 from Lewis University for his extraordinary generosity and philanthropy as well as his lifetime of leadership, impressive business and financial acumen, and commitment to his family and the community.
Denny continues to share his investment expertise with numerous companies through board leadership. He currently is Lead Independent Director of Gilead Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company whose major product is the leading therapy for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Denny also serves as Board Chairman for Navicure, Inc., a privately-held healthcare technology company. He has previously served on many other boards and has been a consultant to the World Bank and the Pentagon.
Vice Chairman of the Board of the Catholic Church Extension Society, he also has provided leadership as Vice Chairman of the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and continues to serve as a member of its Investment Committee. Active on the Board of the Catholic Theological Union, Denny and his wife were instrumental in the establishment and funding of a Catholic/Muslim study program at CTU.
Denny is a Life Trustee and a past Chairman of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare Corporation, Northwestern Memorial Foundation and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In collaboration with the hospital, he and his wife Catherine (“Cate”) established the Denny Community Healthcare Center, a free clinic located in the Lawson House YMCA in Chicago.
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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