Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Dean's Speaker Series 2011 - 2012

CEO: Let's get back to basics

Getting back to basics was the theme of the night as Jim Rohr, chairman and CEO of PNC Bank, spoke to a crowd of more than 170 during Loyola's latest Dean's Speaker Series. The event, held November 30 at the University Club of Chicago, marked the eighth chapter in the School of Business Administration's series and the first for Dean Kathleen Getz, PhD.

Rohr's speech, "Rebuilding a Strong Banking Sector," addressed the prevailing skepticism of financial industries as well as a plan for regrowth.

"Where are we going from here?" Rohr began, as he stood before a group of Loyola students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends in the club's Michigan Room. "Banks must adapt to a new environment."

Rohr cast his opening statement in the context of recent change, drawing on the recollection that six years ago, Blockbuster was still a major player in business, while Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.

That rapid change, he said, should give consumers reason to believe in the American economy. For instance, Rohr stated that unemployment has softened, capital expenditure has picked up, housing is getting better, loans are improving subtly, and there is still massive liquidity at home.

"We're moving up, albeit very slowly," Rohr said. "But simple strategies from the past can take us forward in the future."

Those strategies focused largely on three key issues: practicing fiscal discipline, competing more effectively in the global economy, and continuing to educate and innovate. Rohr placed particular emphasis on the third.

"Education today is more important than it ever has been," he said, citing a correlation between the drop in America's share of world output (down from 29 percent in 1981 to 21 percent in 2011), which is largely hinged on skills-based employment, and the decline in high school graduation rates (down from 77.1 percent in 1970 to 68.8 percent in 2007).

"This is within our control, and Loyola is certainly working to help change that," Rohr said. "There is no university you could be more proud of in terms of ethics and what you're contributing to this region."

To wrap up the evening, Dean Getz commended the audience for their insightful questions—which ranged in topic from recent regulatory effects on banking surcharges to the crisis in the eurozone—and thanked Rohr for his combined "optimism and realism."

"I particularly appreciated that your speech focused on a strong grounding in values," she said. "Values have to drive everything that we do."

Loyola's next Dean's Speaker Series will be held in April. More information and reservations will be available at LUC.edu/sba.