Paul W. Kruse , CEO and president of Blue Bell, summed it up for his family when he said “We’re very fortunate to work in ice cream. It’s fun!” Along with his father, Ed. F. Kruse, chairman of the board, and his uncle, President Emeritus Howard W. Kruse, the trio showed that they did indeed think ice cream was a fun business when they accepted the 2005 Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award at Mays in late October.

Kruse family members have been at the helm of Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham since early in the 20th century. Long ago, Blue Bell sold fireworks to grocery stores during the winter because ice cream sales were not enough. Today, Blue Bell has expanded its operation to 16 states and is currently the No. 3 brand in the country.

All three Kruses are Texas A&M graduates. Ed Kruse ’49 earned his bachelor’s in dairy science. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a Distinguished Military Student and a varsity letterman in swimming.

Howard Kruse ’52 also majored in dairy science, and was a Distinguished Student. Howard is the creator of Blue Bell’s top-selling flavor, Homemade Vanilla.

Paul Kruse ’77 earned his degree in accounting and in 1980 graduated from Baylor University School of Law. He practiced law until he joined Blue Bell in 1986 as general counsel and corporate secretary.

During their presentation to a class of Mays’ marketing students, the Kruses emphasized that caring for people is paramount to those students’ success. “Care about the people you work with and you serve. Most of all, make it a lot of fun,” Howard said.

The Kupfer award, established in 1987, is presented annually to an outstanding executive. This is the first time that the award was presented to a family. The award was established by Gerald Ray ’54 and Donald Zale’54, good friends and classmates of Harold Kupfer.

Previous Kupfer Award winners are T. Boone Pickens Jr., Trammell Crow, Herbert D. Kelleher, Richard E. Rainwater, H. Ross Perot, Mary Kay Ash, Roger Staubach, David Glass, Gen. Alexander Haig, Michael S. Dell, Lowry Mays, Colleen Barrett, Gordon M. Bethune and Ray L. Hunt.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Former Students

Anne and Thomas E. Potthoff ’72, of Fort Worth, have established a $100,000 endowed scholarship for full-time students with a grade-point ratio of 3.0 or higher at Mays. The scholarship is specifically intended for a veteran or a veteran’s child majoring in business.

The gift creates the John and Betty Potthoff Endowed Scholarship in Business. It is named after Tom’s parents, who — on an enlisted Navy man’s salary — managed to provide opportunities for their children that included saving for Tom’s college education.

“The Potthoffs’ gift is one from the heart that will impact many, many future students at Mays Business School,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “It also perpetuates the “Aggie Miracle,’ that process through which a person of modest means can achieve their dreams through the generosity of Texas A&M University’s former students.”

Potthoff was the first in his military family to attend college, graduating from Texas A&M with a BBA in management in 1972. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army and after his discharge obtained a bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Texas System School of Nursing, where he met his future wife, Anne Dafcik. After completing a residency in anesthesia, he was on the staff of 17 rural and large community hospitals. In 1987, Tom began the purchase of Town Talk Foods from his father-in-law’s estate and is currently president and majority owner.

“My dad did not have the opportunity to attend college,” Tom Potthoff said. “My grandfather was 100 percent disabled from World War I, so in order to help his family, my dad dropped out of school at 16. He joined the Navy and served 20 years as an enlisted man.

“So many in that generation sacrificed in order for their children to have a better life and Anne and I looked at ways of honoring them. After visiting with Dean Strawser, we thought this would be the ideal way to acknowledge what my parents did for me and their service to our country.”

The Potthoffs have one daughter, Virginia “Ginny” ’05, who was on the A&M Golf Team and is completing the Professional Program at Mays. The Potthoffs still tailgate each Aggie home game in Lot F between the Bright Complex and the Texas A&M Foundation building.


Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students

Clifford A. Taylor ’49 , James B. Kelly ’52 and the late A.W. “Head” Davis ’45 were three of five former cadets inducted into the Corps Hall of Honor this October in recognition of lives that officials said exemplify the Aggie Spirit.

Davis served in the Army during World War II, earning the Bronze Star, before founding the Bryan law firm David & Davis. He was president of the Association of Former Students in 1983, and in 2003 he was recognized as an Association Distinguished Alumnus. He died Jan. 13, 2005, in Bryan.

Kelly, president of Kelly Land & Cattle Co. in Brenham, served in the Army during the Korean War. He served on the Mays Dean’s Development Council for seven years and was a member of the 12th Man Foundation’s board of directors who initiated the effort to declare the Simpson Drill Field a Texas Historical Site.

Taylor, president of accounting firm Clifford Taylor Co. of Fort Worth, was an infantry officer during the Korean War and earned a Bronze Star. He was a charter member of the Corps Development Council, was president of the 12th Man Foundation where he still remains active, and was inducted into the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Hall of Honor in 1992.

The plaques of 54 former cadets hang in the Hall of Honor in the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center.

Categories: Former Students

Coleman Chair in Marketing Venkatesh Shankar has racked up another research honor: that of the best guest associate editor for Marketing Science.

His name is also on a list of the top 10 best regular associate editors for the journal based on performance during 2004 and 2005. The report includes best regular associate editors and best guest associate editors.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Research Notes

In the mid-1990s, Janet Gurwitch leapt from an earned degree of corporate comfort on the strength of an idea, bent on making her own statement in a mature market she correctly saw as roomy enough for new names.

Ten years later, the CEO of Gurwitch Products and Laura Mercier Cosmetics stood before roomfuls of Mays marketing and MBA students beside blown-up images of Mariah Carey and Julia Roberts on the covers ofAllure, W and In Style. The actresses’ flawless faces, the result of makeup artist Laura Mercier’s technique and products she designed with Gurwitch, were the most obvious signs of Gurwitch’s positive assessment of the risk that took her from EVP of Neiman Marcus in 1994 to CEO and fund-raiser for her own infant cosmetics company.

“I always thought that to start my own company I had to be Bill Gates, I had to have that stellar idea that would revolutionize everything,” Gurwitch told Mays’ masters of marketing and MBA students. “But if you have a better way, a new way, even in mature markets there’s freshness. We are all exposed to things and we don’t do anything about it. I was 40 years old before I decided to take the risk.”

In 1996, Gurwitch’s cosmetic line was launched in 50 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel, Macy’s and Burdines. Today, the up-scale brand is sold in more than 390 stores in 17 countries, including Harrods in London, and brings in $75 million for Gurwitch Products.

As a senior at the University of Alabama, Gurwitch set out to land a position at Foley’s when she received a curt rejection letter in response to her inquiries. “We interview at eight select colleges,” the Foley’s recruiter had written her on May 8, 1974, in a letter she keeps to this day framed in her office. “And the University of Alabama is not one of them.” But the determined Gurwitch flew to Houston despite the rejection and interviewed with Foley’s in person, launching an 18-year career with Foley’s that took her to general merchandising manager before she headed to the runways of Paris as Neiman Marcus EVP in 1992.

Gurwitch told students she learned early on in her career in retail to look for change and seize chances to introduce new products. When Paul Marciano, creative director for Guess Jeans, first sent Gurwitch ads of a young Brooke Shields wearing his jeans, she thought Foley’s was stocked with enough good jeans.

But when Guess started flying off the shelves, she realized how narrow her focus was. And that, she said, is a lesson she took to heart — a lesson that put her in charge of her own multi-million company.

“Always be a student of retail,” she explained. “Never think you know it all, because it keeps changing.”

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Programs, Students

Associate Dean Martha L. Loudder was named in October as recipient of the 2005 Texas Society of CPAs’ Outstanding Accounting Educator Award. The $1,000 award recognizes Texas accounting educators who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and have distinguished themselves through active service to the accounting profession.

Loudder this spring was named associate dean for undergraduate programs and learning assurance. She is an undergraduate-learning advocate essential to the formation of Mays’ freshmen and sophomore business learning communities, which by design enhance retention and contribute to the academic success of students early in their college years.

The Texas Society of CPAs honors only one CPA/accounting professor each year in the large university category. In 2004, the honoree was Mays Professor of Accounting L. Murphy Smith.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Senior marketing major Angelina Fonseca coined the term for a women’s financial education project that recently caught the attention of Shinae Chun, director of the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

Fonseca, a student worker with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, came up with the name “Wi$e Up” for the self-paced crash course in “Financial Planning for Generation X Women.” She worked in the office of Professor and Extension Specialist Nancy Granovsky when the curriculum was being drafted under a grant from the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

When Director Chun attended an October grant-awarding session in celebration of Wi$e Up, Fonseca was praised before the audience.

“I can’t think of a better accomplishment for a marketing major,” Granovsky wrote to marketing department head Rajan Varadarajan. “You can take pride in knowing that one of your students has contributed significantly to a national demonstration project in women’s financial education by originating the very name that was adopted.”

Categories: Departments, Students

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, bring a door.” Fran Keeth, Shell Chemical LP president and CEO and Shell Chemicals executive vice president, borrows that quote from comedian Milton Berle on a crisp Friday morning in early October. She throws it into the Mays MBA student audience with her own spin. “For a lot us in this room, we had to build our own doors and even bring our own hammers to build them.”

Keeth referenced for MBAs the path that brought them back to continuing their education and for herself the male-dominated culture in the oil and gas industry that she has had to prove her mettle in.

Starting out in 1970 as a statistical typesetter, one step above the mailroom, Keeth became the first woman to head a major chemical company in 2001. Strength and unyielding integrity took her through 14 years of night school as she earned a BBA, MBA and JD degree at the University of Houston, raised a son with her husband, and progressively shattered each glass ceiling she encountered with wit and tenacity.

Her goals throughout it all? To leave her company a better place to work than when she started, and to create an environment in which people feel respected and heard.

“I want to ensure that every person comes to work as their best self,” Keeth said, explaining her philosophy as a manager to the room of future managers. “How often do you feel that being who you are — the color of your skin or your religious affiliation — is an impediment? It takes energy away from what it is you do to be who you’re not.”

Keeth fielded MBA questions as she outlined the right and wrong turns she took during her career, including turning down a job managing a federal tax division that she took a year later. She told students to the raise the standard of their places of work, to lead people with empathy and to never let themselves become their own obstacles.

The higher you go in a company, she told a student who asked about work-life balance, the more you find your personal life invaded upon. “It’s a cost of business,” she said. Then she waggled her finger with energy as she remembered advice her father once shared. “You can do and be what you want to do and be, as long as you understand the price. And you have to decide that for yourself.”

Categories: Centers, Departments, Programs

Director of Undergraduate Learning Assurance Tim O. Peterson is one of five selected to instruct as a master teacher for international business-school accrediting body AACSB and its conferences on teaching effectiveness. He’ll lead a discussion on innovative teaching and student learning during the first conference scheduled for March in Tampa, Florida.

The conference is designed to help academic scholars prepare for new AASCB accreditation standards and leadership initiatives, which require that student learning be assessed through measurable goals and outcomes.

Peterson is coordinator of Mays’ “Transitions” program, launched this fall in response to the new AACSB requirements. Peterson is instructing the pilot Transitions course with a cohort of business honors freshmen, who have been introduced to basic business competencies such as communication and problem-solving. The students are cataloging and reflecting on their progress in each area, or learning goal, in an online portfolio of class work and extra-curricular involvement.

In his session at the conference, Peterson will provide teaching techniques and instructional strategies for intervention in student learning. He’ll also serve as a consultant and mentor for the faculty members and scholars who attend the conferences.

Categories: Faculty

The MBA program at Mays is among the top 5 best-administered programs in the nation and is No. 10 when it comes to the competitiveness of its students, according to The Princeton Review’s 2006 rankings of business schools.

The rankings are aimed at providing information to potential business students. The Princeton Review, known for its test-prep courses and education services, asked more than 16,000 business school students in online surveys to rate their school’s academic services, student body and campus life. The company then compiled the results into 11 categories from “greatest opportunity for women” to “toughest to get into” in the book Best 237 Business Schools, released in October.

Mays’ rank as 5th on the list of best-administered schools, which includes Emory and Villanova universities, is based on student assessment of how smoothly the school is run and the ease with which students can get into required and popular courses.

Mays came in among the top 10 schools on the “most competitive students” list that also included Purdue and Rice universities. That item is grounded in feedback from students on how heavy the workload is and how competitive classmates are.

MBA students complete a 16-month, 48-credit-hour program at Mays, characterized by small classes and a low student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. More than 95 percent of the school’s MBA graduates are employed three months after graduation.

Categories: Programs