Meet the trustees: James “Jim” Bush

By Julia Train

After graduating from Rider in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting, Rider Trustee James “Jim” Bush had 14 jobs in 13 locations within 40 years. 

Although Bush’s college experience started off rocky, with his father passing away on his first day of his freshman year and no full-time job in his field upon graduation, he was able to foster a fulfilling profession for himself.

Without knowing his career’s trajectory when he received his diploma, he worked hard to find a starting point. 

Man writing down words.
James Bush working hard during his college days.
Photo courtesy of James Bush                                           

About two months after graduation, Bush started working for Western Union in auditing, which he said provided him with exposure to roles in financial supervision, credit operations, operating environments and collaborating with people working on the unions. 

He relocated three times while working for the company, moving from northern to southern New Jersey, then to Chicago and Dallas.

In 1987, he moved on to work at American Express, where he worked for 32 years until he retired.

During the course of his time at the bank holding company, he held a plethora of positions, including senior adviser to the new chief executive officer, president of Global Network and International Card Services and executive vice president of World Service, to name a few.

“I had a terrific career. I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Bush. “Rider provided the foundation that was a springboard to any success that I’ve had.”

Throughout his career in financial services, Bush has had an opportunity to engage and work with people from all different walks of life, especially students.

When he was working at American Express, he invited Rider classes to the company’s New York City building to spend the day so he could give them a business perspective and hold a discussion around marketing and financial services. 

Bush was impressed by the students, but surprised that many of them hadn’t been to the city before. Inspired by his time with the students,  Bush and his wife donated $250,000 to Rider’s International Immersion Endowment in 2018 to help business majors afford short-term travel abroad. 

The fund, which is now named after him as the James P. Bush International Immersion Endowment, totals $1 million, and students of any major can apply. It has allowed Bush to hear about a variety of students’ trips and what travel means to them.

“I’ve been pleased to see the students take advantage of it and get some feedback from them on trips,” he said. “In my mind, life is an adventure. You seize the opportunities when they’re presented.” 

Lydia Diekmann, a junior musical theater major, received the scholarship after being placed on a waitlist.

She used it to visit England and Croatia in January, right before the spring semester began. 

She and 12 other students stayed a week in London, seeing “Guys and Dolls” in the West End and Shakespearean plays at the Globe Theatre. The group also saw the Adriatic Sea and Buckingham Palace.

“I love Shakespeare, so that was really cool to see where it all started and get to actually see a show there,” said Diekmann. 

In Croatia, they saw two puppet shows in Croatian.

Girl in front of Croatian city
Lydia Diekmann in front of a scenic Croatian view. Photo courtesy of Lydia Diekmann

“It was very difficult to understand, but it was really cool to see how different countries do theater and the similarities and differences,” she said. “It was a dream of a trip. I got to see so many shows. It was just so wonderful.”

Bush invested into the endowment because he wanted students to be able to partake in traveling abroad opportunities, which he never was able to do until 2001, when he had to relocate to Asia after becoming the regional president of Japan, Asia Pacific and Australia for American Express.

After that move, Bush traveled to every continent except Antarctica while filling different roles at the company.

Bush said his education at Rider laid the foundation for him to pursue opportunities of travel, like moving to Singapore, where his youngest son was born.

Bush was one of the inaugural inductees into the Norm Brodsky College of Business Hall of Fame in May 2018. 

Man smiling in a yearbook photo.
James Bush in his senior picture. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1980.
Photo courtesy of James Bush

Bush retired in 2019 and since then, he has kept himself busy with hobbies like golf, chess and pickleball, along with spending time with his three sons and wife of 32 years. Now, he remains involved with his alma mater through his personal endowment and being on the Board of Trustees, which Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo asked him to join in 2020.

He is also the vice chair of the Board and chair of the Organizational Sustainability Committee and serves on the Governance Committee, the Investment Subcommittee and the Audit and Risk Subcommittee.

As he sat in his home office reflecting on his career, he mentioned his gratitude for Rider’s role in his journey, although it started off shaky. 

“I believe that you need to be reflective and be appreciative of how you get to where you get to,” Bush said. “I felt it very important to give back … [with] financial resources [and] personal time, and the board allows me to do that.”

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