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Ed Ludwig '73 chose a career in business for two reasons-to make a living and to make a difference. As president and CEO of a global company for 12 years, Ludwig demonstrated that principled leadership, ethical decision-making and shared values create a highly successful business model that benefits a company's shareholders, its employees and society. He traces his values-driven business philosophy back to what he learned at Holy Cross about being a person for others in every aspect of life.
Ludwig has remained deeply engaged with Holy Cross through a consistent, generous and multi-faceted investment of his time, expertise and resources. His annual support of the Holy Cross Fund and the President's Council, his significant gifts for specific purposes, his steady volunteerism and his wise counsel as a Trustee have had a collective impact in many areas of need at the College. His gifts of time, talent and treasure have enriched business programs, secured the legacy of a beloved mentor and soon will support the educational aspirations of generations of local students. Ludwig points to three strong connections to the College-the late Dean Joseph Maguire '58, engagement with the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and his role as a Holy Cross Trustee since 2006.
Ludwig is the former chairman, president and CEO of Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a Fortune 500 medical technology corporation. Headquartered in New Jersey, BD has 30,000 employees in 50 countries and annual sales of nearly $8 billion. The company is consistently rated among the most ethical in the world and ranks in the top quartile for shareholder returns. Numerous institutions and schools of management have recognized Ludwig as one of the nation's most ethical, effective, transparent and socially responsible CEOs. In a 2010 Harvard Business Review article, Michael Beer wrote, "What makes Ludwig unique is that ... he is not shy about advocating a new direction, high purpose, strategy or values that he believes should guide the company."
"BD was a great fit for me," Ludwig says. "I interviewed and fell in love with the place as soon as I walked through the door in 1979. The values I found at BD resonated with my time at Holy Cross. Both are compassionate organizations, deeply rooted in trying to make a difference in the world-and they both excel at what they do."
Ludwig retired in 2012 after 33 years with the medical technology giant. Stepping away from the helm has allowed him to devote more time to his passion for finding new solutions to global health issues, and to his board work with Aetna; Xylem, Inc.; Project Hope; the Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center and Holy Cross, among others. The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) named him to its Directorship 100 list in 2012. Ed's wife, Kathy, currently serves as chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ed and Kathy have both been active at the school for many years.
The Holy Cross Leadership Council of New York will honor him for his decades of ethical business leadership on May 6 at its annual benefit dinner, to be held this year at The Pierre in New York City. The gathering of Holy Cross business leaders supports the Council's Summer Internship Program, now in its 12th year-BD hires a Holy Cross intern every summer. (See pages 46-47 for more information about the dinner.)
Honoring Dean Joe Maguire
"The first time I saw Holy Cross was on the first day of my freshman year," says Ludwig, who grew up in New Jersey, but is proud to have been born in the Bronx. "Call it luck, call it a blessing or call it the grace of God. My time there as a student was a life-changing, life-affirming experience for me. It had to do mostly with the people I met there, the faculty and my fellow students. A great spirit of intellectual curiosity permeated the campus. The College helped me to discover more about my own spirituality and my own faith. Holy Cross is a powerful force that challenges, enlightens, engages, embraces, uplifts and sustains. The faculty was extraordinary, none greater than Dean Joe Maguire."
Maguire, who lived on campus, was a class dean, director of the teacher education program and a professor of educational psychology. At times, he was the only faculty member in the education department, yet his dedication to the program never waivered. He became a good friend and trusted mentor of Ludwig's until his death in 2002.
"Joe was all about the Holy Cross mission, never about himself," Ludwig says. "Friends and I spent many a long night in Joe's living room in Mulledy Hall discussing questions of faith that would shape our lives in the years to come. He was a special guy and became my closest contact to the College. He got to know my wife, Kathy, our two sons and extended family when he spent holidays with us. We counted him among our best friends."
When Maguire mentioned to Ludwig in 2000 that he planned to retire the next year, Ed and Kathy began a conversation about how to honor their great friend.
"We talked about a scholarship and an endowed chair," Ludwig says. "On the advice of the College, we decided to help sponsor the Dean Joseph Maguire '58 Professorship to honor Joe, who was about to retire and had serious health issues. Bob Brennan from the Class of 1981 and I worked with other folks on The Campaign for Joe to raise the $1.5 million needed to endow a professorship in his name. Joe lived long enough to see that the effort was well under way and he was stunned. The Maguire Professorship secured the future of the department of education at Holy Cross, and it honors Joe's legacy."
In celebration of Ed's 40th reunion in June, he and Kathy committed a substantial gift to create the Joseph H. Maguire '58 Endowed Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide scholarship assistance to Holy Cross students who are graduates of the Worcester public high schools.
"We wanted to provide scholarships for kids like Joe Maguire-first-generation college students from Worcester," Ludwig says. "We also wanted to help them find a way to go to Holy Cross and to create a new cycle of fulfillment for themselves. We hope others will join this effort to honor Joe and to help local students. I, too, was the first in my family to go to college. The best things my parents gave me were my faith and my education-and their examples of doing the right thing."
Connecting Students with Business
Ludwig has generously shared his insights into doing the right thing in business with tomorrow's business leaders through the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies (COES) on campus. Art Ciocca '59 endowed the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies in 2006 to build entrepreneurial spirit among students and to prepare them to compete as ethically responsible leaders in the American and global economies. Professor David Chu directs the office and is the prebusiness adviser. Volunteering with COES is a natural fit for Ludwig, who participates in the weeklong Executive Leadership Workshops and other COES initiatives.
"Through my involvement, I hope Holy Cross students develop a more positive view of what business is all about," Ludwig says. "I tell them that business is just a way that society is organized to get things done. Over the years I've brought in people from BD to speak with the students, and I've talked about my own career. I encourage students not to over-specialize prematurely. The first thing you need in business is to learn how to think, read and write well-and to develop a moral compass. This is where a school like Holy Cross contributes so much."
Ludwig's life in retirement is full of purposeful activity. He and Kathy visited Haiti with a group of BD volunteers. He has given invited talks at Cornell, Columbia and Marist College, and he received a Heritage Award at Johns Hopkins for his ardent support of the Bloomberg School. In addition to supporting financially a cause about which he cares deeply, Ludwig believes in giving his time to the effort as well.
"You have to choose where to invest your time," Ludwig says. "Kathy and I are both very involved in health and education issues. We try to use the tools of health and education to break cycles of unhappy, unfulfilled lives. Rather than simply treating symptoms, we're trying to go after the root causes. One reason people aren't having happy lives can be traced to a lack of health and education. Find ways in which better education, better health or better access to health can be provided and you have a life-affirming way to break a downward cycle. Kathy and I have been involved with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and we recently made a major commitment to them. We support Holy Cross' efforts to change lives through its teacher education program. There's no better way to perpetuate fundamental change in the world than to invest in better teaching. We also strongly support the Global Village initiative at Douglass College, Kathy's alma mater."
Ludwig is enjoying his involvement on the board of Xylem, Inc., a water technology company. Xylem is applying its technology to get clean water to people who lack access to it, while also making a profit for its shareholders. In March, he and Kathy will head to Peru for two weeks with other Johns Hopkins School of Public Health board members to see projects firsthand. Ed also hopes to visit a BD cervical screening project while he is in Peru.
Higher Ambition Leadership
Ludwig and several other retired CEOs have helped to create the nonprofit Center for Higher Ambition Leadership. Their focus is on what constitutes higher ambition leaders, those whose companies do good and do well-and offer a high return on investment to their shareholders. In addition, Ludwig has a personal research project under way to identify the characteristics that distinguish good public company boards and good board members.
It seems as though a long look in the mirror would tell him everything he needs to know on both topics. ♦
— Elizabeth Walker
This article was first published in Holy Cross Magazine, spring 2013