Paying It Forward: Student Giving Campaigns Benefit Future McCombs Students

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The culture of philanthropy at the McCombs School of Business begins with the student experience. In spring 2009, McCombs students followed the lead of the many dedicated friends and supporters of the school and donated more than $160,000 to enhance the quality of student life at the school through the MBA Legacy Campaign, Business Honors Program Make-a-Mark Campaign and BBA Legacy Campaign. Class of 2009 MBAs boasted a record-breaking 99 percent class participation. “The MBA Legacy campaign is just that—a chance to leave a unique lasting impression on the school that has given us so much over the last two years,” says Tiju Tom, MBA ’09, a spring 2009 Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Graduate Fellow.

College students aren’t generally known for having deep pockets, but in April 2009, McCombs School of Business students participated in three student giving campaigns to enhance the quality of student life at the school.

The 2009 campaigns kicked off with a campus visit from Red McCombs in April, Student Philanthropy Month at the McCombs School. He spoke to students about the joy he receives from giving back to the school and seeing lives being changed every day. Red McCombs emphasized that the most important component to student campaigns is participation rather than a particular dollar amount and challenged all students to give back in a meaningful way.

MBA Legacy

Launched in 1996 by Jason Watkins, MBA ’96, the MBA Legacy Campaign asks students to give back to the McCombs School with a class gift. The 2009 MBA Legacy committee was led by Ryan Childs, MBA ’09. Despite a rocky economy and uncertain job market, the MBA class responded to the challenge in a big way, with 99 percent participation—the highest in the history of the student campaigns—and $152,214 in pledges.

“It is not very often that we are presented with a real-life opportunity to leave a legacy,” says Tiju Tom, MBA ’09, legacy committee member and a spring 2009 Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Graduate Fellow. “The MBA Legacy campaign is just that—a chance to leave a unique lasting impression on the school that has given us so much over the last two years.”

The monies raised will fund upgrades to the Carpenter Center, the Full-time MBA student lounge, which will help recruit future MBA students to the McCombs School. Students celebrated their success at the MBA Legacy Bash at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center, where they were entertained by a magic show from committee member John Rabenhorst, MBA ’09.

Business Honors Program Make-A-Mark

Started in 2000, the Business Honors Program (BHP) Make-A-Mark Campaign raises funds for scholarships for future BHP students. The Make-A-Mark Scholarship has proven to be a successful recruiting tool for the top high school students in the nation. In 2009, the Make-A-Mark Campaign raised $10,737, with a 44 percent student participation rate. Their efforts were led by Hunter Follett, BBA ’09, a 2008-2009 Dr. Taylor Clyde Gilbert and Mrs. Edythe Erhard Gilbert Scholar, and Mita Lakhia, BBA ’09, a spring 2009 recipient of a Renee Wolfe Zelman and Norman Zelman Endowed Scholarship. Additional contributions were provided by BHP alumni.

“The major reason why I am passionate about Make-A-Mark is the opportunity to give back to a community which has given me so much,” says Lakhia. “We come into the BHP program as freshman and leave as seniors who have been fortunate enough to have amazing professors, incredible resources and a strong tight-knit community.”

“I think the biggest way I can thank those who contributed to my scholarship is by giving back myself one day,” says Lisa Neigut, BBA ’10, a 2006-2010 Make-A-Mark Endowed Presidential Scholarship recipient.

BBA Legacy

Inspired by the MBA Legacy Campaign and a campus-wide effort to increase student involvement, Shara Ma, BBA ’10, and Scott Parks, BBA ’10, a summer 2009 Dean Byron Fullerton/Tejas Scholarship recipient, created an undergraduate student campaign. They shared their vision with the Undergraduate Business Council, which formed a committee led by Kelly Pallini, BBA ’10.

“I am relying on my degree from this prestigious school to help carry me through these economic times,” says Pallini. “As such, I am personally dedicated to doing anything that can further promote how incredible and competitive McCombs truly is.”

For the inaugural 2009 campaign, the committee focused on educating their classmates about the importance of student giving. They raised $5,500 from more than 200 students.

Update: Legacy 2010

In spring 2010, students across the McCombs School joined in an effort to continue improvements to student life at McCombs through the 2010 Student Giving Campaigns. The three returning student campaigns—MBA Legacy, BBA Legacy and BHP Make-A-Mark—achieved milestones with new and innovative ideas. Additionally, three new student campaigns launched in 2010—EMBA Legacy, TEMBA Legacy and MPA Legacy, broadening the scope of student philanthropy at McCombs and setting the stage for future achievements for these programs.

The 2010 MBA Legacy Campaign achieved an impressive 99% class participation, while the BBA Legacy Campaign Committee launched a cutting-edge marketing campaign, generating buzz on campus with their slogan and companion video “What’s the New Tradition?”

To drive involvement in BHP Make-a-Mark, Beverly and Will O’Hara, BBA ’68, a former part-time lecturer in accounting, offered to match BHP student contributions two to one if the graduates reached 100 percent participation and if Eli Cox, chair of the Department of Marketing and retiring director of BHP, shaved his head and beard. In light of the students’ record-breaking 70 percent participation rate, the O’Haras doubled all campaign contributions, donating an additional $17,350 to the scholarship fund, bringing the total to $26,225. During the BHP Make-a-Mark celebration, Renee Chu, BBA ’10, and her BHP classmates enthusiastically joined in helping Cox with his $26,000 haircut.

Chu aptly summed up the spirit behind the spring student campaigns: “I owe so much of my enriching experience here at UT to my time in BHP. Because the program has afforded me so many opportunities, I feel now it is more appropriate than ever to give back.”

By Annette Dalla from Texas (Spring/Summer 2009) and Danielle Wells from Texas (Spring/Summer 2010)

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