The John J. Burke Jr. Center for the Study of Free Enterprise

The Vision

Through the generosity of John J. Burke Jr. ’63 and his wife, Kathryn, Spring Hill College has created an independent center that conducts scholarly research, sponsors guest speakers and offers courses in understanding the free enterprise system and new venture formation to undergraduate students in all of the College’s academic majors. 

Students complete their studies with a balanced understanding of how free market principles, when allowed to function, will contribute to a stronger economy with job growth and opportunity for all citizens from every background. While not designed to be an academic major or minor, students who complete the designated courses will earn a transcript certificate in Free Enterprise Studies as part of their degree.


In addition to certificate courses in political economy and the philosophy of responsible capitalism, students attached to the Burke Center will be able to enroll in a two-semester course sequence that first exposes them to understanding market needs and identifying innovative solutions in their particular areas of academic and professional interest. The second course in the sequence prepares students to then create an enterprise that will deliver these solutions to the marketplace.


An important focus of the Center is identifying market or societal needs, developing innovative solutions, and creating organizational entities that can deliver these solutions in a competitive, resource-constrained environment. The outcome could be a for-profit venture, a nonprofit organization, or a movement with a clearly defined purpose. Throughout these courses, students will be introduced to the American entrepreneurial philosophy of opportunity for all, but within a rigorously competitive marketplace. The goal is to ground students in the power of free market principles, while empowering them to use their Jesuit education to make life better for all whom they serve.

Survey Tools for CFE Students

Burke Center students use SoGoSurvey tools to undertake professional research projects as they develop organizations to address and resolve meaningful needs in today’s complex market environment.

Online Survey powered by SoGoSurvey
Provided by SoGoSurvey

From the Director

Welcome to the Burke Center, where students and faculty convene to advance our understanding of how the free enterprise system when executed properly advances the well being of everyone in the free societies in which it functions.  We are deeply indebted to John J. Burke, Jr., and his wife, Kathryn, for their generous support of this Center.

Since graduating from Spring Hill College in 1963, John J. Burke, Jr., used his knowledge and skills as an entrepreneur to identify needs in the real estate market and create workable solutions for his clients.  Beginning in 1968 with selling single-family residences and then expanding to include multi-family apartments and condominiums, Burke Properties has had a significant positive impact on the Milwaukee landscape.

In addition to hard work and visionary insight, John benefitted from our nation’s economic and political system, which espouses free and open competition, and encourages risk taking.  This same powerful system is vulnerable to over regulation, and its potential impact can be impeded by a lack of understanding regarding how our free enterprise system functions.  At the same time, every entity in a free enterprise system has a moral responsibility to advance the common good, and the Jesuit values we so strongly espouse place the Burke Center in a unique position to accomplish this.

The Burke Center is an independent College-wide center that offers courses in understanding the free enterprise system and in new venture formation to undergraduate students in all of the College’s academic majors.   Explore the Certificate in Free Enterprise Studies, and see the other programmatic options available through the Center!


Christopher P. Puto, Ph.D.

President Emeritus

Director of the Center for Free Enterprise

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