Photo courtesy of aquinas.edu
Story by Sam Kaser, Reporter
As the new chair of the business department, Dr. Linda Hagan is eager to begin stamping her definition of the AQ Difference upon West Michigan. Her eclectic background in both the private sector and academia brings her high hopes going forward at Aquinas College.
Prior to her arrival in West Michigan, Dr. Hagan spent over 15 years in the private sector for companies including Volkswagen, in Troy, Mich. and Audi for America, in San Francisco, Calif. After her time in corporate, she turned to academia to extend her knowledge to the young minds of tomorrow. Before her first steps upon the campus of Aquinas, she spent 11 years working at Walsh College, a nonprofit business college in Troy, Mich.
Her transition to academics was a choice that could easily be tied to the values of Aquinas. “I traveled and really learned a lot about business,” Hagan said, “but then from a personal standpoint I knew that I couldn’t stay in business industry and still manage the family that I wanted to have.”
Hagan’s move to West Michigan was a choice that was easier to make than she anticipated. “I wanted the small college atmosphere, and I wanted to work with students and colleagues who saw something more than just getting the education,” she said. “When I saw the job posting, something just spoke to me, that I wanted to be here, and that I belonged.”
Her entire life has been revolved around learning. Even as a child, when most kids were playing house or dolls, she was playing teacher. That way of thinking has led her to opportunities of which she has taken full advantage, and she intends to translate them through her teaching. On top of heading the Business Department, she teaches three classes: Ethical Applications of Business, International Marketing and Organizational Leadership.
When asked about what she hopes to give to this program, Dr. Hagan’s passion for making the connection between higher education and business exuded itself clearly. “My goal is to really have students recognize how business can really complement a liberal arts education,” she said. She spoke about the opportunities given to interested business students, including dual major programs and study away programs.
These programs — set to arrive within the coming years — will hopefully include Dr. Hagan’s and Mark O’Toole’s, an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Aquinas, efforts for a 10-day study away program to Ireland, Scotland and London. This opportunity is for students such as athletes or others who may not have time to spare an entire semester away. It is also an opportunity for those seeking international business and any kind of major that may involve becoming exposed to foreign cultures and markets. She also described a leadership development program headed by Professor O’Toole which helps students meet with business professionals and learn the ways of the business world outside of the classroom.
Dr. Hagan’s work ethic does not go without family time, however. Along with enjoying golf in the summers, she is excited to take in the plays the Aquinas has to offer, and is still on the waiting list to get into Wolfgang’s for the first time. She has three young adult children, and a mixed lab and retriever named Luigi.
Although it has only been a short time into the semester, Dr. Hagan’s goals and aspirations have already begun to take shape, and she cannot wait to continue to work at Aquinas for years to come. To her, it’s “all about the students.”