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By Devin Rose
Norman Carroll's lifelong goal was to be an academic, his son Mark said. In the one-line profession description on his discharge papers from the U.S. Army in the early 1950s, that's what Carroll had filled in.
He went on to wear many hats at Dominican University, which was only blocks from his River Forest home. During almost 50 years there, Carroll served as provost and vice president of academic affairs. He was a professor of economics and eventually chaired the department. He was the founding dean of what is now the Brennan School of Business and spearheaded the school's international MBA programs.
"He was that stable center that knew all and saw all," said university President Donna Carroll, no relation.
Norm Carroll died at home on July 6 at the age of 82.
Carroll — whom the university president called a man of high integrity and enormous intellect — dedicated his entire professional life to Dominican. He was a "significant force" in many strategic changes, Donna Carroll said. He was part of the analysis behind the name change from Rosary College in 1997. He was there when co-education began at the school, and he was behind the formation of the new school of social work. Donna Carroll called him the architect of the MBA program now offered in Poland and the Czech Republic.
He recognized that the climate had changed for international students coming to the U.S. after Sept. 11, Donna Carroll recalled, and he wanted to aggressively encourage teaching abroad to move the university forward. The school was one of the first to go into Poland and offer an MBA there. He also felt that teaching online was part of the future for education and embraced it in his classes, which he taught until his death, his obituary said.
Mark Carroll said the Dominican community was almost like an extension of their family. Since it was so close to their home, Mark and his brother John did landscaping work there during the summers. They spent a lot of time at their dad's office, where they got to know the faculty and sisters while he worked.
And following a four-block-walk, his dad brought that love of learning home with him.
"He challenged us to think, and created conversations at home the same way he would in a classroom," Mark said. "It was just who he was."
Molly Burke, who worked as the associate academic dean under Carroll, said he was an incredibly good listener and questioner and had high expectations for the school. But she also knew the kind and compassionate side of him — the side that always put family first.
Donna Carroll said one moment truly defined him. One day she looked out from her office to see Norm and his wife, Ruth, holding hands while walking through the gates of Dominican. He had a commanding intellect, she said, but he was a loving man.
He is survived by Ruth, his wife of 52 years, their three children, seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.