For the Naveen Jindal School of Management Major Donor Appreciation Dinner on April 5, keynote speaker Dr. Dallie Clark impressed upon the crowd how the extra time and care of a written letter can often convey far more than an email can.
A professor of humanities at Collin College, Clark received her PhD in the same subject from UT Dallas in 2012, and her presentation, “The Letter as Art in the Digital Age,” was the title both of her doctoral dissertation and a subsequent interactive exhibit at a Collin College gallery earlier this year.
“A nice connect,” said Erica Yaeger, Jindal School assistant dean for development and alumni relations, about Clark’s remarks at the dinner, which was held in the Eisemann Center in Richardson. “Extra time and care have been hallmarks of Jindal School donors. Giving their money, yes, but often their expertise as well.”
The dinner was the third annual donor thank-you program the Jindal School has held. “Hosting an appreciation event with a different theme each year is an important new tradition for us,” JSOM Associate Dean for External Affairs and Corporate Relations Diane McNulty said. “It enables school faculty, students and staff to more personally express some of the gratitude we feel for donors’ gifts and involvement.”
Attending the dinner, Curtis Ludwig, global university relations program manager for Ericsson and a member of the Jindal School Advisory Council, had a ready explanation for ongoing support. “Donors have seen how the school has climbed through the rankings, and it’s incredibly adaptive, into the areas of supply and logistics, and catering to the needs of the business world. It makes our whole Dallas area that much stronger.”
Mark Hanna, manager of public relations and membership for the Insurance Council of Texas, was taken by how the business school has gone beyond having a regional — and even national reputation. “I’m impressed with its global presence, and we’re very proud to support the school,” he said. “You meet students from South America, Asia, seemingly everywhere at the business school. The opportunity to have so many cultures in the student population is a major strength. These students are talents and could go to many universities around the world—but this is the place they choose. It says a great deal about the standing of this university not just in our country but internationally.”
William Donovan, an undergraduate student majoring in global business and a beneficiary of the Hazlewood Legacy Act that provides education benefits to veterans, took the opportunity to thank donors for supporting him and echoed the school’s cultural benefits within his remarks during the program. “I chose UT Dallas,” Donovan said, “because after attending an executive tour I realized that it would be the perfect university for me to learn about culture integrated with business. And the diversity of the Jindal School student population is the perfect place for me to work in teams with other students and learn about other cultures as well.”
Yaeger and other JSOM dinner organizers hoped that Clark’s presentation would give donors more than a deep heartfelt message of thanks from the school. Jindal School Advisory Council Chairman Ray Hemmig, founder and general partner of Retail and Restaurant Growth Capital, said afterward: “The presentation on the letter resonated with me because I’ve seen how much it means when you take a little more time to express a feeling. Sometimes we forget the power of this in business — it was an important reminder.”
Clark has committed herself to passing on what she believes does not have to be a dying art but a living embodiment of thoughtfulness and expression. “Remember that some of our greatest moments, some of the most important decisions, came through handwritten correspondence,” she said.
As donors shared laughs and memories with each other, the Jindal School honored all who have remembered the school, helped it grow and given their hearts to help it achieve.
Alumnus and friend of the school Kevin Ryan, MBA ‘95, remembers it almost back to its start. “I’ve been in Richardson since 1972, and I’ve seen this school go from a couple of buildings to what it is today,” Ryan, now senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief compliance officer at of Merit Energy and a member of the Jindal School Advisory Council. “You’ve seen donations put to work, partly in how prepared the students are. What a great group of talent to pull from. You can tell that the business school doesn’t settle—and won’t settle. That’s part of why we’re all here tonight.”
— Eric Butterman