Carmel couple’s donation helps promote The Northwood Idea


As a proud alumnus of Northwood University, Don Gottwald is a strong supporter of The Northwood Idea.

“I’m looking for ways to expose these principles to more people,” the Carmel resident said. “The idea of bringing some of the tenets of The Northwood Idea to an online audience like other institutes have done, we could reach a wider audience.”

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The Northwood Idea emphasizes the importance of individual moral responsibility, private property, free marketing and self-governance. Gottwald and his wife, Pamela, are the principal donors in raising $150,000 to teach it in public online courses.

Gottwald said Northwood University, a private business school in Midland, Mich., bills itself as America’s free enterprise university.

“It starts with the idea that a free society is for the better of more people than not,” he said. “The more free our exchange, the more people can participate in the economy, we’re all better off. More free markets have lifted more people out of abject poverty than any other type of system in the world. I got involved to provide a medium for a civil conversation on individual freedoms, individual responsibility, a strong work ethic and how that is paramount to a free society. I thought that was extremely important.”

Gottwald said free markets are paramount to having a free, civil society where people get to keep the fruits of their labor and are free to make their own decisions.

Gottwald was a corporate executive for several years.

“More recently, I’ve gone out on my own as an entrepreneur,” said Gottwald, who has an MBA from Duke University. “The ideas have definitely influenced me over time. I’m on a couple for-profit boards in addition to my nonprofit work. I own a couple of small businesses. One is a furniture retailer and the other I provide growth capital to some other young entrepreneurs.”

Gottwald said Northwood has been offering a unique course called the Philosophy of American Enterprise for decades in various formats.

“I took that class as a first-year student and it was very impactful as it emphasizes the principles of The Northwood Idea, which are taught as a blueprint for individual development and general prosperity,” Gottwald said. “The support Pam, my wife, and I provided is an effort to help share these lessons beyond the classroom walls at Northwood. The online version could be seen as a refresher course for alumni, professional development for employees and as outreach for others interested in learning these ideas.”

Gottwald said he views business as a noble profession.

“Embedded in The Northwood Idea is the expectation that students will look at a career in business as more than just a means of obtaining wealth or leisure, but as a way of using their highest human capacities in a life well spent,” Gottwald said. “The first modules in the online course articulate how business is the way we organize voluntary cooperation in a civil society and make it more productive in a way that ultimately benefits the most people. These benefits capture more than the products and services business provides yet also creates the wealth that supports our important institutions such as schools, the arts and government services.”