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Other recent scholarships and endowments provided
by alumni include:
Dana Dominiak, '91
John Cumbee Family
James Denny Begins $100,000 Endowment in Honor of Father Kevin Spiess
In May 2012 James M. Denny, a noted philanthropist to Catholic and community organizations and President of Two Rivers L.L.C., received an honorary doctorate degree from Lewis University. Impressed with the values of Lewis, in the spring of 2012 he made the decision to honor a close friend and long-time faculty member in the College of Business, Father Kevin Spiess. Denny established a $100,000 endowment in Father Spiess’ name to further the University’s focus on business ethics.
“The accomplishments made through the leadership of Brother James Gaffney (Lewis University President), 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,” says Denny. “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.”
Having served Lewis for more than 40 years, Father Spiess has taught over 4,000 students during his tenure. 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 as a full-time professor since 1979, past Dean of the College of Business and Graduate School of Management, served as 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 has also taught or moderated programs at the University of Notre Dame Business School, Chatham College and Harvard University.
This 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 and 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.
Says Denny, “I appreciate the chance to participate in the advancement of Lewis and provide recognition for a truly deserving man, Father Spiess.”
A noted philanthropist with extraordinary service to Catholic and community organizations, James M. Denny is President of Two Rivers L.L.C., a family investment firm. Prior to leading his own firm, Mr. 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.
Mr. 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. Mr. 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 a 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, Mr. Denny and his wife were instrumental in the establishment and funding of a Catholic/Muslim study program at CTU.
Mr. 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.
Born in Minneapolis to a family whose ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the Minnesota territory, Mr. Denny attended Princeton, served in the military in Korea where he received the Hwarang Distinguished Military Service Medal, and then graduated from the University of Minnesota. He went on to Georgetown Law School, where he was an editor/officer of the Law Review, and then began his career as a lawyer, practicing from 1960 to 1968, in New York and Paris.
Mr. Denny cites numerous major influences for his own success and character, including his mother, a beloved uncle, the men with whom he served in the military, the “depth of faith” he has witnessed through his service and friendships with Cardinal Francis George and the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, and his wife of fifty years, Cate, “a source of love and laughter in our home, and a constant reminder of what is important in life” for him, their six children and nineteen grandchildren.
Mr. Denny’s commitment to excellence, to ethical behavior, and to a faith-filled approach to his life’s work also demonstrates the Mission values of Lewis University, which promote social justice and responsibility in community service, development of the complete person through education, and the spirit which recognizes God as the ultimate reality.