Dean's Blog

Business Dean Daniel Gropper on Capitalism and Socialism

Note: excerpted from remarks at the January 2018 FAU Business Leader of the Year Breakfast

When FAU celebrates outstanding business leaders, we do this in our larger context as an educational institution – as a College of Business, holding up exceptional business people as examples for our students to follow.

Our goal is to prepare our students for success in business careers, and also to educate them to be well-rounded citizens.  Our students need to know their business fundamentals -- but they also need an appreciation of history and the arts and sciences, as well as an understanding of the broader forces shaping the global economy.

A national survey last fall reported that a stunning number of American college students said that they preferred a Socialist economic system to a Capitalist economic system. 

For me, as Dean of one of the top-15 largest AACSB-accredited Business Schools in the United States, it is increasingly clear that many Americans do not understand the basic principles of a free enterprise, capitalist system – nor do they understand that socialist economic systems necessarily require giving up much of the individual freedom that most Americans hold so dear. Too many commentators, pundits and professors mistakenly put forth the idea that long-term business success is primarily achieved by somehow exploiting your customers or your employees.

They are simply wrong.

Treating your customers, employees, and suppliers with honesty and integrity - producing quality goods and services efficiently enough so that your prices beat your competition, while covering your costs and making a reasonable profit - that is the way to build a successful, sustainable business.

Some of these critics claim that American capitalism is based on exploitation, particularly of the poor; and that the American dream is dead - that you can no longer get a reasonably priced education, get a good job and move ahead in this country.

My friends, I disagree.

And I suggest this – ask the people who have actually lived under socialism, especially the poor, how that system is really working out for them – in Venezuela, in Cuba, in Argentina, in North Korea.  Then ask why so many people try to escape those countries, and seek more freedom and better opportunities elsewhere.

America is still the land of opportunity, particularly here, particularly now. There are incredible business opportunities right here in Florida waiting for anyone with the drive, determination and ability to take advantage of them.  It is not easy, and there are no guarantees, but there is plenty of opportunity.

At FAU’s College of Business, the core of our mission is to educate our students and help open the doors of opportunity for them -- that is why we support our students and celebrate exceptional business leaders and companies such as Colin Brown and JM Family Enterprises -- and I am honored to be part of it!


FAU College of Business alumnus Eduardo Padrón to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College and an alumnus of Florida Atlantic University College of Business, has been named one of 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced this week.

Padrón, who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from FAU in 1966, will receive the medal on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The list of honorees Tuesday includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, and the honorees are selected by the president for their contributions to the security or national interests of the country.

"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "From scientists, philanthropists and public servants to activists, athletes and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."

Padrón was chosen because of his work over four decades to ensure that all students have access to high quality, affordable education.

"He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies, making MDC a national model of excellence," the White House Press Office said in a news release.

Daniel Gropper, Ph.D., dean of the FAU College of Business, was one of several South Florida leaders to congratulate Padrón.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an incredible symbol of achievement, and a fantastic recognition of what you have done,” Gropper wrote in an email to Padrón. “Although I can claim no part in your success, in my role as an educational leader at your alma mater, I will do my best to carry forward the tradition of opening the doors of opportunity for all FAU students.