Two decades in, 'Boz' Bostrom is synonymous with charisma, energy and hospitality at CSB and SJU.
By Megan VanOverbeke '24
The second floor of Simons Hall is bustling. Accounting TAs, students and friends hover around laptops.
A slew of parents and touring high schoolers enter the space on the Friday of MEA weekend, when so many students tour college campuses. They crowd by the tour guide as they look around for the person in charge.
A tall man with flowing white hair, a blue accounting hoodie and a big smile emerges from his office.
Warren “Boz” Bostrom.
Most of the group files past to meet with a business professor, leaving one young woman and her mom standing alone. Bostrom walks up to introduce himself and also greets the tour guide with knuckles.
Bostrom, one of the nine full-time accounting professors at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, is active in all corners of campus. His days and nights consist of teaching, recruiting meetings for high school students, advising meetings for current students — both accounting majors and otherwise — and attending any and every event he can make on campus.
“I show up to everything,” Bostrom said. “And I engage people when I show up.”
Bostrom’s popularity on campus and in the accounting community comes at a time of expansion for the accounting and finance department. This year marks the first time students can major in finance instead of just majoring in accounting with a finance concentration.
Even before Academic Program Prioritization suggested accounting expand its production, the plan to add the finance major was underway. With support from administration, accounting chair Steve Welch said the department hopes to add more full-time and tenured staff to aid the increase in students.
Welch has known and worked with Bostrom for 16 years. As chair, Welch said he enjoys the more behind-the-scenes administrative work and is happy to let Bostrom be the face of the department.
“I think of him as the assistant department chair,” Welch said. “We work really well together as a team … Boz is Boz. He’s a force unto himself.”
Welch said Bostrom is one of the department’s tax experts, but he also takes on many of the intro-level classes to recruit first-years into the major.
One of Bostrom’s favorite parts of his job is recruiting students, helping them find professional connections and watching them soar after graduation.
He also uses every recruiting meeting to connect future students with current ones.
When Bostrom asks the high schooler why she chose to visit St. Ben’s, her mother says she was interested in athletics.
Bostrom jumps up and bounds down the hall to the group of accounting tutors. “Is Abby still here?”
“Abby’s here!” someone shouts. Abby Willenbring, a senior accounting major who also plays soccer, appears from around the corner.
“So, Abby is one of our star soccer players,” Bostrom explains. “I just wanted to introduce you to a real live Bennie soccer player who’s also a star academic.” The mother and daughter have their eyes trained to Bostrom, nodding along as he explains how the CSB and SJU accounting department is student-focused.
Bostrom stops every few minutes to greet students and faculty as they pass by. He talks to every person who walks through.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he tells the mother and daughter.
“No, that’s great. You know everybody,” the mother says.
Bostrom’s role on campus began 20 years ago when the accounting department hired him as a professor. Twelve years in, he and his wife, Kacey, and their two children, Wyatt and Sofia, moved to St. Joseph from the Twin Cities. This, Bostrom said, is when it became easier to engage with more CSB and SJU students.
“I was driving 80 miles one way,” Bostrom said.
Bostrom meets regularly with students, expressing interest in them as a person. This year, he’s using LinkedIn — where he has thousands of connections — to showcase different students and their accomplishments.
“I'm always looking for something to showcase, right? … I might take a picture with (students) after a game or something like that. But I realized that there's a lot of students who just show up every day and do a really nice job and are 100% great human beings. But maybe they're never going to star in a sport or a play or be the commencement speaker or get a high score. And then I would never get a chance to showcase them unless it happened more accidentally,” Bostrom said.
Many know Bostrom because of his connection to the football team — a 1995 grad, he played for the Johnnies and regularly posts about the team on his socials — but he said he tries to get out and attend a variety of events on campus.
His method of engaging with students and actively participating in the community came from Bostrom’s relationship with John Gagliardi, SJU’s legendary football coach from 1953-2012.
“Gagliardi was my role model . . . and he was the best listener out there,” Bostrom said. “He showed interest in people as human beings first and not football players. I try to show interest in them as human beings first and not just accounting majors.”
In recruiting meetings with potential accounting majors, Bostrom tries to establish a connection to each student while sharing the benefits of CSB and SJU. He’ll talk about internship opportunities and job placement, the benefits of a small school, alumni connections that lead to easy recruitments and the schools’ solid reputation.
To Bostrom, teaching accounting at a liberal arts school is a positive because students are exposed to a variety of subjects, not just business and accounting.
“I think that our students come out extremely well prepared . . . because they're just opened up to so many more diverse perspectives,” Bostrom said. “I think it just makes them better, well rounded people.”
Bostrom presents on accounting ethics around the country — required seminars for accountants to maintain their education. This is another way he expands his wide professional network.
“All the corporations and firms . . . just kind of know of me,” Bostrom said. “They pay me well to deliver talks on ethics, and it's good. I get paid; it's good PR (public relations) for the school. Hopefully I do a good job. They seem to like it and be entertained. And it's just an overall win.”
He also writes.
Bostrom’s published John Gagliardi’s memoir in 2016. He didn’t plan on writing anything at first, but he didn’t think any of the previously published writing really explained who Gagliardi was as a person.
“Everyone just talked about his football prowess, and everyone was missing the fact that he was just, like, the best human being ever. And that is part of what made him so special, the way that he treated people off the field, the way that he treated not just football players, but other students,” Bostrom said.
Bostrom also co-wrote SJU legend Bill Sexton’s memoir and recently completed his first novel, The New Start.
With a full schedule outside the classroom, Bostrom still wants to make his classes a good experience. He tries to be there for every student and assures them not to give up.
“To try to find those struggling students and to be able to encourage them to stick with it and build them up — that is an incredibly satisfying thing,” Bostrom said.
Lauren Pfeffer, a CSB senior accounting major and accounting TA, took her first class with Bostrom in the fall of 2020. She said that having Bostrom as a professor was one of the reasons she decided to major in accounting.
Pfeffer will graduate in the spring and already has a job lined up at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms. She credits Bostrom’s support and connections as one of the reasons for her success.
“I think the big thing is the fact that he takes the time to get to know students . . . I think that he has a genuine care for us and wants all of his students to succeed, accounting or not,” Pfeffer said.
With every interaction on campus, Boz networks with a smile on his face. And his accounting hoodie, of course.
“Boz is the best,” Pfeffer said. “My dad’s favorite thing to say to people is, ‘These schools are so lucky to have Boz.’ And it’s true. They are.”