The goal of any academic institution’s Board of Trustees is not only to approve its strategic goals and objectives, but to advance its overall mission. Roosevelt University is no different, striving to maintain a dynamic, diverse board composed of proven leaders in their respective fields.
The Board of Trustees’ most recent addition, Tom Gladden, is the latest individual to match those qualifications.
Gladden is the founder of Macrosight LLC, a consulting company for private equity firms, which leverages his years of experience in the industry. Prior to founding the firm in 2017, Gladden worked at Adams Street Partners in Chicago for 14 years, where he invested in global venture capital, growth and buyout funds. He was also a member of the private capital and real estate team at Duke Management Company, served as executive director of the Youth and Family Resource in Chicago, and worked in health care consulting.
Gladden spoke with Roosevelt University about his professional experience and how he hopes to advance the mission of its Board of Trustees.
What drew you to becoming a member of Roosevelt University’s Board of Trustees?
Going back to my not-for-profit days of helping out kids, one of the kids I helped out a lot went to the old Martin Luther King High School and he came to Roosevelt, so I followed him a little bit. Then my kids, we live in River Forest, they would come down here for band performance and work with the instructors that were being trained to be music teachers. When I found out about the University’s mission and was told they were looking for someone with a financial background, I thought I could really help out with what Roosevelt is doing and think about how education moves forward. I could especially leverage some of my venture capital background, as well as working with kids who’ve been in more challenged circumstances and have more difficult things to overcome.
What are your hopes for the University and how can you use your experience to help the institution evolve?
I think education is at a very important inflection point. The old models alone can’t get Roosevelt into the future. So, I’m very interested in helping the University figure out what it becomes over the next 15 to 20 years to serve a population that’s much more online, much more on the go, possibly more professional. The traditional education model is in the midst of a lot of change right now.
What do you think is Roosevelt’s reputation among Chicagoland employers and prospective students?
I think Roosevelt’s reputation is really good. It’s a unique private institution that can help guide students and build on its existing relationships to bridge to corporate America and available jobs. The real job of education is to do a better job of setting kids up for success in the jobs that exist today. Roosevelt is in a valuable position to make that possible.
Do you have any specific goals as a new board member?
My goal initially is just to figure out what everyone else is doing, figure out how things are going, what the directions are,” and then make suggestions on the side of what might be ideas that I was thinking of. I need to get more involved before I can make too many suggestions of specific goals. I think the biggest goal is just preparing the University for the next 50 years to thrive as the world continues to evolve.
Do you have any existing relationships with other board members?
I’ve met the board members briefly, one of the board members that was looking for people with a financial background to help out with some of the investing side, went to my old company looking for people and that’s how I got introduced to the board. But there’s not a long relationship that I have with any of them. Everyone that I’ve met, however, is so unified in purpose about trying to make this place the best it can be.
How does your experience as executive director of the Youth and Family Resource Center correlate with Roosevelt’s mission of social justice?
There’s a whole spectrum of kids — from the most impoverished up through the wealthiest —that I think Roosevelt can really help get to the next level and find opportunities they might not find in other ways. I think my experience working with elementary school and high school kids in a more economically challenged area gives me the perspective to help Roosevelt serve kids from all kinds of circumstances.
Anything you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have four children — they are my spare time [laughs]. I coach a lot of sports with them — I played football and baseball through high school and college, so I coach them a fair amount. I was just in Cooperstown for a baseball tournament for 12-year-olds. I have two 17-year-old daughters going through the college admission process, and 14- and 12-year-old sons.
Anything to add?
The University has an opportunity to really take a leadership role in how urban universities close to lots of job opportunities can really tie students to careers. It doesn’t always have to be the traditional experience. Traditional education is serving a certain swath, and shrinking a bit because of cost and other factors, but how do we build that new piece? How do you change education to take advantage of all the other media we do have? That’s what I want to explore at Roosevelt.