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New Name of Business Institutions Reflects Kapnick Generosity

Harvey Kapnick was an enthusiastic benefactor of the newly named Kapnick Business Institutions Program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

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November 5, 2008 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The business institutions program -- the most popular minor at Northwestern University -- now has a new name that reflects the generosity of the late Harvey Kapnick and the Kapnick Family.

Mr. Kapnick was an enthusiastic benefactor of the newly named The Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from its creation two decades ago until his death in 2002. Carrying through on his vision for the program, the Kapnick family recently gave Northwestern a generous gift that endowed the program and resulted in its new name.

The endowment funds will be used to meet demand for classes, which often have long waiting lists, and for other program enhancements and future initiatives of the ever-expanding program.

The number of students graduating with the business institutions minor has doubled in the last four years. Last year 8 percent of Northwestern's graduates earned a minor in the program.

"Harvey Kapnick had strong ideas about what undergraduate education should include," said Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education and the Harvey Kapnick Professor of Business Institutions at Northwestern.

"He believed that students who want to be effective business leaders need high-quality exposure to fundamental concepts taught in a variety of academic disciplines, rather than only in a business concentration."

The multi-disciplinary The Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program offers a study of business that is approached through a thoughtful investigation of the cultural, political, philosophical, literary and social sources and consequences of business.

Braeutigam, the director of The Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program from 1995 to 2004, has been central to the program's success. During his tenure as director, the number of graduates who participated in the program tripled.

"Ron Braeutigam, as director of the program, along with senior administrators at Northwestern had a number of discussions with Harvey Kapnick before he passed away, about the program, about its incredible growth and ways to accommodate demand for the popular minor," said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern's provost. "It was clear from those discussions that Harvey held a strong belief that business is a noble enterprise."

Mr. Kapnick, a former chairman and chief executive of Arthur Andersen, left the firm in 1979 because of concerns over potential conflicts of interest related to the accounting and consulting arms of the firm being engaged in business with the same clients. The same issues that Kapnick raised were investigated by the federal government during its prosecution of Arthur Andersen for its role in the collapse of Enron, according to Kapnick's 2002 New York Times obituary.

Mr. Kapnick, who was a life trustee and strong supporter of Northwestern, was involved in a number of fund-raising campaigns for the University. His gifts and influence have affected a number of Northwestern initiatives, including the establishment of the business institutions professorship (in 1988) and the Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program, now named after him.

The core courses of The Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program are based in the departments of economics, sociology and political science; the electives are taught by faculty from schools and departments throughout the University as well as by highly experienced professionals, both in classes and through internships.

Core courses cover complex organizations, economics and government and business. The electives have covered everything from public relations and marketing to investment banking and sustainable innovation to the business of fashion and arts management. Among the electives, linkage courses are designed to bridge the academic world and the "real world." Final projects have included creating a business plan, writing a press release, negotiating a corporate sponsorship and creating a philanthropic foundation.

Each spring four of the business institutions program's most outstanding graduates are recipients of the Kapnick Prize in Business Institutions.

Program graduates obtain significant jobs at some of the most highly regarded businesses and organizations throughout the United States and the world. They include global accounting, investment banking, financial services and management consulting firms, federal agencies and non-profit organizations such as Teach for America.