Tobin’s Cox Honors Program Thriving

Cox Honors Program
April 22, 2021

The Thomas J. Cox. Jr. Honors Program continues to provide Peter J. Tobin College of Business students with exposure to academic learning experiences and business experiences designed to propel their academic and professional careers.

Launched in September 2019 as the Dean’s Distinguished Scholars Program, it was renamed in 2020 due to the generosity of Thomas J. Cox ‘82CBA in honor of his father. This elite Program recruits and retains a cohort of high-achieving undergraduate business students who take honors courses, have co-curricular opportunities, conduct research with faculty, and receive tuition scholarships to participate in a Global Destination Course (GDC).

In its inaugural year, the Program enrolled nearly 28 freshman and nearly 15 sophomores. This past September, the Program added 91 high performing freshmen and is on track to enroll another stellar class in Fall 2021.

“The attractiveness of this program is that it puts a cohort of our brightest students together to be challenged by demanding professors, while forming bonds with each other in a rigorous academic environment,” said Niall C. Hegarty, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Management and Director of the Thomas J. Cox, Jr. Honors Program.

“The result will be a well-educated graduate with leadership skills who will be heavily recruited by industry.”

The 2020-2021 academic year program featured a stellar lineup of speakers who gave the students inside information on various industries, career development, and the importance of relationships, communication, and work ethic.

The year’s first speaker was the Honors Program benefactor, Thomas J. Cox, CEO of On Point Group, who spoke about his career experience and his impetus for sponsoring this academic program. He received a wonderful response from students eager to engage him and his personal approach to leadership and life.

The roster of subsequent speakers included:

  • Robert Ioanna, Senior Principal and Board Member of the Syska Hennessy Group, who spoke about the business side of running a large internationally recognized engineering firm. Specifically, he discussed work ethic, communication skills, and the abilities needed to get a team to deliver quality work on time.
  • Jay Vodofsky, Senior Managing Director and Relationship Manager of First Manhattan Co., who informed the students about his philosophy of helping his clients think strategically about life matters and how he provides holistic advice regarding investment and financial planning matters.
  • Robert Castrignano, Managing Director of Equity Sales at Piper Sandler Company, who spoke enthusiastically of the personalities and temperament needed to excel in the high-end finance arena. His tenacity and appetite for his career was especially noted by students in terms of finding a career that is a good fit for an individual.
  • Gerry LoDuca ‘76CBA, Founder and President of Dukal Corporation, who discussed the challenges of starting and growing a business. He emphasized the importance of having a clear mission and vision in building a large company. As one of the nation’s largest importers and producers of personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gowns, he amazed students with the volume of merchandise that his company delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also spoke about his relationship with Chinese businesses over the past 30 years and the importance of a leader’s integrity in sustaining an organization through various growth stages.
  • Kaitlin Agulto ‘12TCB, ‘20MBA, Regional Lead Client Strategy & Solutions, Americas, and Vice President of Property and Casualty Business Management at Swiss Re America Holding, talked about her career development in the reinsurance world. She specifically cited the hard work behind her career advancement having reached a vice presidential position after eight years in the industry and the importance of goal setting in career planning. Her presentation was especially beneficial for the students as they could relate to someone who recently graduated, is familiar with their college experience, and is already deep into her career.

Tobin faculty members also invited speakers from various industries to address specific classes. Those speakers included: Alfonso Chang, CEO of pharmaceutical company Parsolex; Samuel Cargill, Global CEO of Aon’s Media & Entertainment practice, and Executive Chairman for Aon Private Risk Management; and Jacob Assa, Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations.

“Students’ exposure to a variety of industry speakers has the purpose of informing and interesting them in career paths they may not have previously considered, while raising the College’s profile with employers in the production of ‘ready to contribute’ graduates,” said Dr. Hegarty.