In the late 1980’s, a group of friends who lived together on the fifth floor of Flanner Hall spent a decent amount of their time – even late into the night – discussing philosophy, education, and life. None of them knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life in terms of education or career. None had found his passion. In short, these close-knit Notre Dame students and friends were really no different than the vast majority of undergraduate students at Notre Dame and across the country during their lifetime, before or after them.
And like many students, these young men decided to attend a panel discussion, one of the many that take place on college campuses around the world on a regular basis. Little did they know, however, that their attendance at this event would inspire the founding of the Notre Dame Council on International Business Development.
In the fall of 1988, a few members of the Business School’s Advisory Council were speaking about globalization at an MBA event. The group of undergraduates from Flanner Hall found a way to get their names on the invitation list, even though this was supposed to be an event primarily for MBA students.
The businessmen who comprised the panel spoke of the daily impact international forces has on their operations, whether they dealt in manufacturing, transportation, investments, or any other field. One of the panelists was Frank A. Potenziani, an attorney who ran a private family foundation in New Mexico. His words particularly affected Fred G. Botek, one of the students from Flanner Hall. For reasons to this day unknown to Fred (he attributes it purely to divine intervention), he approached Frank after the panel discussion.
Remember, these were undergraduates at an MBA event; they should most likely have left after the formal discussion. Instead, Fred was drawn to Frank. He spoke to Mr. Potenziani about how international topics were the last chapters in almost every textbook, the chapters that invariably either were squeezed in because of too little time in the semester or were left out completely.
Fred was inspired to approach Frank and ask him if he would be willing to work with him to help take the topics of the panel and develop them into on-campus undergraduate opportunities for students. The result was the first annual student forum on globalization, a panel discussion where Fred and his friends from Flanner spoke about what they, as students, wanted to have in their educational experience. They wanted to go beyond textbooks and the classroom; they wanted to speak to real world experiences and use the values instilled in them at Notre Dame in practical applications throughout the world.
The panel was the inspiration that developed into the Notre Dame Council on International Business Development, which was later renamed the Student International Business Council, a student-run organization in which students could become involved in international activities as an integral part of their education.