There are Chicago Cubs fans, super fans, fanatics . . . and then there’s this Mendoza professor whose office is something of museum/shrine to the Loveable Losers. Memorabilia includes a Cabbage Patch doll attired in a Cubbies uniform, Cubs hats, jerseys, cups, pens, pencils, a birdhouse and a huge “W” flag. Also, the infamous Cubs candle that’s lit when the Cubs win six games in a row and a 12-inch tall Charlie Brown PEZ dispenser that was a gift from a student.
Only two things possibly outsize this professor’s love of the Cubs: a vast inventory of bad jokes (“The Cubs” team batting average is so low that if a member of the Cubs fell off a pier, he wouldn’t hit the water.”) and a lifelong commitment to serving and caring for others born of a deep faith.
Who is this mystery professor?
Chicago Cubs hats, bats, balls, mugs, candles, a huge “W” flag, PEZ dispenser and Cabbage Patch doll … Who else at Mendoza would have such an amazing array of Cubs memorabilia installed in his office than accountancy professor Ken Milani?
Milani grew up in the Chicago suburb of Cicero. His experience with accounting was helping his parents with the books for their tavern/pizzeria.
“I was able to find out at an early age that the numbers would tell me a story in terms of what part of his business wasn’t doing well,” Milani recounted for a 2017 Mendoza Business magazine profile. “Was there something that we had to change in terms of what we were selling? Our prices? Hours? That type of thing.”
His love for the Cubs is part of his affinity for those who know what it is to persist against tough odds, which more broadly includes the working poor.
He co-founded the Tax Assistance Program (TAP) in 1972 to assist low-income and disabled South Bend and Mishawaka residents with their federal and state taxes. During its nearly 50-year history, TAP has helped tens of thousands of low-income taxpayers file their taxes and receive their much-needed refunds.
Milani’s long list of Mendoza/Notre Dame awards include the Executive Master of Nonprofit Administration Outstanding Professor Award (EMNA) and the Edmund Joyce Exemplar Teaching Award. Professional recognitions include the Internal Revenue Service VITA Volunteer Longevity Award and Beta Alpha Psi Business Professional (Academic) of the Year.