Success & Impact
New National Alumni Board President Frank Sharp '67 and Vice President Alessandra Corso '09 discuss their time on Hawk Hill and their plans and goals for the coming year.
Success & Impact
From the comfort of their North Carolina coastal home, Corolyn Clark Foster, Ph.D., and Paul Foster, Ph.D., fondly remember Hawk Hill as a place where students congregated in hallways or regularly rolled a chair into their offices for a casual chat.
“It was just something about the environment,” says Corolyn. “We had a lot of great experiences, a lot of good students along the way.”
After three decades helping to build the business department at then-Saint Joseph’s College into the nationally renowned Erivan K. Haub School of Business, the Fosters are powering another transformation by endowing a scholarship for students in accounting or finance.
Corolyn spent a decade working in accounting and finance before enrolling in Temple University’s doctoral accounting program.
She joined Saint Joseph’s as the first tenure-track female business professor in fall 1978, during a time of unprecedented growth. Saint Joseph’s had opened its doors to full-time female students just eight years prior, and had just been granted university status. Nine other faculty were hired into the business department between 1977 and 1978, expanding the department to a total of 20 professors.
“When I arrived at Saint Joseph’s I was the only woman in the Business Department and that situation remained for many years in the School of Business as well. When the Accounting Department was formed, I was the only woman in that department and when I retired nearly 30 years later, remarkably enough I was still the only woman, although a few short-timers had joined me off and on through the years. Accounting was just not a field that many women went into when I started but that obviously has changed today.”
For the first year, Corolyn shared an office in then-Villiger Hall with another new professor – Joseph A. DiAngelo, Jr., Ed.D. ’70, who is now the Haub School dean. Corolyn got the window seat in their partitioned shared office, he the door.
“She was a great teacher and great with the students,” recalls DiAngelo.
A Vision for the Future
Paul Foster came to Saint Joseph’s in 1979 following a distinguished 31-year career in the United States Navy, retiring as a Rear Admiral.
“In the mid-1960s, the Armed Services decided they needed to match the credentials of the people in the Defense Department, often referred to as the ‘Whiz Kids,’ the Rand Corporation experts charged by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara with modern’izing the United States’ Defense Department” Paul recalls, and the Navy sent him to earn his doctorate from University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, which later informed his leadership at Saint Joseph’s.
“Paul had the vision that we had to be bigger than Philadelphia. That kind of opened up people’s eyes,” says DiAngelo.
Much as we enjoyed our years there, we wanted to give a student the opportunity to enjoy their college years there. We would like to do the small part we can to help students have a St. Joe’s experience."
Paul was brought in to lead to the charge to establish a separate college of business to complement the existing College of Arts and Sciences. “It was a major topic of governance at St. Joe’s and required a vote of the faculty. It took two years of hard work to lay the groundwork to secure a positive vote,” recalls Paul.
In the newly established College of Business and Administration, Corolyn became the first chair of the newly-formed Accounting Department. “I was known as the ‘founding mother,’ whatever that is,” she laughs.
Next, Paul got to work establishing ties to the Philadelphia business community. He modelled his approach on what he saw at Darden with their Associates Organization. “It was difficult, but one of the important functions I felt I had to fulfill was to get senior business people committed to support the business school,” says Paul.
One of his major achievements was establishing the first endowed academic chair at the University in 1982, named after accounting professor Edward G. Sutula, MBA/CPA who taught at Saint Joseph’s for 40 years before retiring in 1990. Supported by 30 alumni donors as well as Foundations of the major accounting firms in Philadelphia,, the Edward G. Sutula Alumni Chair of Accounting has drawn preeminent faculty to the University.
Paul also brought notable business professionals to teach on campus and successfully advocated for the University to invest in a student computer lab with desktop computers, a relatively new phenomenon at that point in time and thought by many in the University to be a passing fad.
A New Chapter
After years of working together, Corolyn and Paul fell in love and married in 1985 . Within a couple years, Paul stepped down as dean and returned to full-time teaching, but he and Corolyn continued their deep commitment to the business school.
“They were very good to me when I came back to be the dean,” says DiAngelo, who assumed leadership in 2000. “They were always willing to step up and do what needed to be done.”
In 2006, Corolyn and Paul retired to the coast of North Carolina. They soon returned to teaching, this time virtually.
For five plus years, the duo connected with Saint Joseph’s graduate students online to teach corporate finance, financial planning and investment securities analysis courses.
“We were hard to get rid of,” jokes Corolyn. “We were in the days of chalk dust and blackboards when we started at St. Joe’s. The technology has just blossomed through the years. To my mind, it has been all good.”
Augmenting Their Legacy of Learning
Recently, the Fosters began thinking about their legacy as educators. They made plans to include Saint Joseph’s University in their estate planning, establishing The Paul L. Foster, Ph.D. and Corolyn Clark Foster, Ph.D. Scholarship for students studying accounting or finance at Saint Joseph’s.
“St. Joe’s in many ways is big enough to have the resources and opportunities to serve a number of needs,” says Corolyn, “but it still has never completely lost that small college character.”
Although many things have changed since the Fosters’ first days on Hawk Hill, Corolyn and Paul see a constant of students being encouraged to work collaboratively to innovate – and sometimes fail – so they can become the informed and ethical leaders of tomorrow.
“Much as we enjoyed our years there, we wanted to give a student the opportunity to enjoy their college years there,” said Corolyn. “We would like to do the small part we can to help students have a St. Joe’s experience."