A prominent local network of financial executives has established a scholarship fund for students at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, both to honor a faculty member and to deepen its ties with the University.
The Dallas chapter of Financial Executives International approved $65,000 to fund a scholarship in memory of the late Dr. Constantine (Connie) Konstans (1935-2013), a longtime Jindal School faculty member who founded and served as executive director of the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance.
“The work Connie Konstans did benefited so many people — in the Jindal School, the FEI and beyond,” said Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Jindal School dean and Caruth Chair. “It is entirely appropriate to honor his legacy with a scholarship program that benefits both the chapter and the students of the school.”
From September 1999 to May 2001, Konstans served as president of the Dallas chapter of Financial Executives International, a global network of chief financial officers, treasurers and controllers at companies from every major industry.
He and Dr. David Springate, JSOM associate professor of finance, have been the only two academicians to helm the chapter, a testament, said Robert (Bob) Walker, Career Service chair at FEI Dallas, to the deep ties between the University and the chapter.
“We’ve had lots of our meetings at UTD,” Walker said. “The University has opened its doors to us over the years, so this gift is a way to show our appreciation.”
In recent years the 700-member FEI Dallas chapter had been reserving funds that were to be allocated through its scholarship committee. Springate, who is on the chapter’s board of directors, told Walker that they might be able to qualify for a fund-matching program through the Jindal School. That knowledge prompted Walker to push through the allocation. FEI Dallas worked with the development team in the JSOM office of external affairs to start the approval process, and Pirkul approved the match. The organization plans to donate another $10,000 over the next two years.
“The ability for us to attain the enrollment levels that we have attained in the chapter were greatly due to the policies, procedures that were put in place by Connie,” Walker said. “He led some of our largest percentage gains during his tenure of membership. A great deal of our success stems from his administration. We’ve had significantly opportunities — not just meetings but additional activities for members — as a direct result of Connie’s contributions.”
Chapter president Kendall Helfenbein, MBA’04, MS’06, was a student of Konstans when he went through JSOM’s MBA program. He was on the board and scholarship committee during the process to allocate the funds.
“Dr. Konstans was a hero to many of us,” Helfenbein said. “I went to him for a lot of advice when I was pursuing both my MBA and my master’s degree.”
Helfenbein also played a key role in getting FEI Dallas to establish a mentorship program for JSOM accounting and finance students. Between 20 and 30 students take advantage of the program every year.
“We bring in accounting and finance students for the day to spend time with our financial executives,” he said. “It’s a great way to show the students what it’s like in the real world after they graduate. Also, the CFOs really like it because they get to explain to the students what a day in the life of a financial executive is like.”
Helfenbein explained that some of those encounters have led to jobs for the students.
“The long-term impact of the mentorship program will be good — mainly for the students but also for UT Dallas and FEI,” he said.
—Jimmie R. Markham