The Dalstrom file Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Born: Chicago

Education: Northeastern Illinois University, bachelor’s degree, linguistics; Loyola University, Chicago, master’s degree in education

What is the biggest business challenge you have faced?

When I was part of USA Group, there was an affiliated organization with USA Group that was losing a lot of money. I was asked to see if I could work with (the affiliate) as chairman of (the) board to turn it around. I had never done that before. I had never been assigned that kind of a rescue mission. Fortunately, it succeeded. But it was to me the hardest thing I think I ever did.

What is the most important business lesson you have learned?

It’s pick the right people and give them what they need to do their job, and get out of their way.

Whom do you admire most?

Ron Wendell, retired director of financial aid, Northeastern Illinois University — He taught me more than anybody else that this profession is about students. It’s not about the company, it’s not about the staff, it’s about the students. He was an incredible counselor. He was in such high demand on that campus by students who just wanted him to give them advice.

Dalstrom on the need for financial aid: We’ve got a developing access crisis in this country caused by the changing demographics, because 80 percent of the growth in the college-age population over the next decade is going to be from minority populations. The Business of Higher Education predicts that by 2028, there will be 19 million more skilled jobs, jobs that require at least some college, than there will be people to fill them. Our challenge is making sure that the private sector understands that clearly and understands that they, next to the students themselves, stand to lose the most from an access crisis, because they will not have access to qualified people.