Dominican University honors River Forest couple

Norm and Ruth Carroll devoted themselves to the university's development

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Contributing Reporter

Dominican University's Brennan School of Business announced the naming of the Norman and Ruth Carroll Endowed Chair in Business and Economics, in honor of the late Norm Carroll, founding dean of the business school, and his wife Ruth, longtime River Forest residents. 

The chair is made possible by an anonymous $1.5 million gift to the university's current Powerful Promise campaign.

"I am delighted that the chair is named for both Norm and Ruth because they were a devoted couple," said Dominican University President, Donna Carroll, no relation. "They exuded good values in their family life and in their long tenure at Dominican."

Mark Carroll, one of Norm and Ruth's three children, said the gift marks two important milestones. "My dad passed away in 2012, so it's been five years since his death. It's also the 20th anniversary of the name change of Rosary College to Dominican University, something he felt deeply about."

Mark recalled his father's lifetime of dedication to Dominican University, over a career that spanned close to 50 years. 

"He just grew up with the university. He was hired as a young economics professor, a recently-minted PhD. He always knew he wanted to be a college professor. That was his dream, and he fulfilled it."

For Molly Burke, former dean of the Brennan School of Business and current professor, the chair is a fitting legacy for the man who wore many hats at the university, from dean of the business school, to dean of Arts & Sciences, to Provost.

She noted that Norm Carroll was instrumental in establishing the business school at Dominican. 

"He carved a business school out of the faculty and within 4-5 years, we had roughly 300 students," Burke said. "He was a visionary. He could imagine things the rest of us couldn't and then put together the architecture and scaffolding to build it.

"He was a really committed and dedicated leader here. Norm adored Dominican University and donated tons of hours, weeks and years in service to the school. I felt very privileged to follow him in the business school."

Burke recalled that Norm was pivotal in working alongside Donna Carroll in turning Rosary College into Dominican University. "Norm could envision a future for Dominican that many of us could not see, and then he worked hard to achieve it. He was Donna's co-conspirator, so to speak. He was into big dreams."

For Donna Carroll, working alongside him for the first half of her presidency was instrumental in the success of Dominican. "Norm and I were of different generations but of like minds. We both had a strong care for the institution and its mission. He was that stable anchor through enormous change. He was that institutional memory."

Mark Carroll recalled that one of his father's focal points at Dominican was establishing international programming at the business school and that his time in the armed services as a young man informed a dedication to the educational benefits of international travel. 

His father's last act involved thinking about the future of the school he loved so much. 

"He knew more about technology and its future impact on education than any of us," Mark said. "Months before his death, he was still working on on-line education courses."

Burke remembered him as a humane leader with a deep interest in his students and devotion to his family. 

"This chair is a testimony to Norm and Ruth," she said. "They were a frequent presence on campus. This really was a place where their family was a part of the woodwork."

For Mark, the chair rightly includes his mother, who taught at Trinity High School for 19 years before teaching study skills courses at Dominican. 

"My dad included her in everything," he said. "Nothing makes us prouder than to see his and my mom's names continued through more teaching and research."

Donna Carroll agreed that the endowed chair is the best kind of legacy for the Carrolls. 

"When you name something after someone, it gives you the opportunity to retell the story again and again."

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John Phelan from River Forest  

Posted: October 19th, 2017 12:43 PM

I have known the Carroll family since I was a small child, and there are no better people in our midst. Norm and Ruth were positive figures in my life throughout my childhood. Their first thoughts were always for the welfare of others and for the community. Their children were always kind, honest and respectful. It is nice to see two longstanding pillars of our community honored like this.

Norman Young from River Forest  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 6:40 PM

Congratulations to the Carroll family. It was a privilege for me to work closely with Norm Carroll when he was the chief academic officer at Dominican and I held the same office at Concordia. It was a joy to work with someone so dedicated to his institution and the profession.

Cathy Adduci from River Forest  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 3:53 PM

Congratulations to the Carroll family for the Norman and Ruth Carroll Endowed Chair in Business and Economics. Both Dominican University and the Village of River Forest are a better place to live because of Norman's vision and commitment....thank you!

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