Phillip Z. Pace ’85 of Houston has established a $30,000 excellence fund for use at Mays. His gift creates the Phil and Linda Pace Excellence Fund, intended to support and enhance programs and opportunities in business.

“The Pace’s generous commitment to our school provides us with funds and flexibility to identify key programs and provide seed money to support new ideas,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “These funds are essential in assisting us in our move to be among the top 5 public business schools.”

Pace earned his BBA in finance from A&M in 1986. The longtime financial analyst is now managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston’s Houston office, where he’s been since 1991. In 2000, Pace was the No. 2 analyst in oil and gas exploration and development on’s analyst rankings — compiled on the basis of strong stock-picking skills as well as votes from key institutional investors.

Pace has been an analyst for natural resource exploration and production companies with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Smith Barney and Rauscher Pierce in addition to his time at CSFB. He is also pegged as a key speaker in the industry as part of the Texas Southeast Regional Speakers Series for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He is a member and advisor on the dean’s development council at Mays. He and his wife, Linda ’86, have been married for 20 years.

“I am grateful that Mays Business School gave me the tools to compete with the Ivy Leaguers working in New York City,” Pace says. “Aggies have a growing reputation on Wall Street for being hard working and insightful. We hope that our support of Mays will contribute to sustaining that strong reputation.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Center for Executive Development Administrative Assistant and Program Coordinator Pam Curry is a 2005 recipient of the President’s Meritorious Service Award. That makes her the first Mays employee in five years to win the honor, which recognizes the university’s top employees and their dedication to work and the people around them.

Since a move from the Undergraduate Program Office in April, Curry has handled the center’s billing, accounting and office tasks as well as programming for law enforcement training and U.S. Army MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) development programs.

In another win for Mays, Wehner Custodial Staff Crew K was named the team recipient of the President’s Meritorious Service Award. During a breakfast in the crew’s honor, Dean Jerry Strawser thanked the team for their commitment to the Wehner Building’s constant upkeep. “Everyone who comes into this building tells me how professional it looks, how taken care of,” Strawser said. “Thank you for your dedication.”

Categories: Centers, Faculty

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

Craig R. McMahen of New York City has established a $100,000 endowed fund to enhance and support the teaching, research and curriculum activities of the Department of Finance at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. His donation creates the Craig R. McMahen Fund for Excellence in Teaching and Research in Finance.

“Craig’s gift to our Department of Finance is consistent with his involvement with this program since his graduation,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “He continually hosts our students during our Aggies on Wall Street trip and is responsible for helping our students start their careers on Wall Street. He is the type of former student that every dean would love to have, but few do.”

McMahen is a 1990 Texas A&M graduate who earned his BBA in finance before heading to Wall Street. He is a managing director in the Investment Banking Department at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, a full-service investment bank that specializes exclusively in the financial services sector. McMahen is also an advisory director to Mays’ Department of Finance.

“This is a small step in the direction of hiring some of the top professors in the area of finance as we strive to achieve our goal of becoming a top 10 business school,” McMahen says.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Former Students

More than 50 members of the MBA Class of 2003 agreed to together commit $75,000 over the next five years to provide financial assistance for an incoming MBA student. The class members, who gathered in October for a reunion, are funding part of a total $300,000 endowed fellowship.

Dean Jerry Strawser has pledged matching funds from the Dean’s Development Council to equal $150,000. A matching gift from the Heep Foundation at Texas A&M brings the endowment’s total to $300,000, to create the MBA Class of 2003 and Mays Dean’s Development Council/Heep Endowed Graduate Fellowship.

Proceeds from the gift, once fully funded, could support an incoming MBA student with $15,000 a year, Romney Stewart ’03 told his fellow graduates at the October MBA reunion. Fellowship recipients will be judged based on leadership, unique work experience, academic achievement and career aspirations, he said.

The dean’s office will oversee the growth of the scholarship.

“Collectively as a class, we decided that we were going to make a difference,” Stewart said. “And I think it’s awesome that here we are, two years later, and we’re able to do that.”

The Class of 2003 is the first class to give back to the Mays MBA program. Scholarship money helps Mays compete for the top students in the shrinking MBA-applicant pool.

The concept already speaks volumes to present and future students about supporting those who come after them, said MBA Association President Chris Comish, a member of the class of 2006. He addressed the MBA ’03 gathering this month.

“We are grateful for and inspired by your generosity,” Comish told the ’03 graduates. “I only hope our class of 2006 and future classes coming up can join with your example and support this MBA program.”

Categories: Departments, Former Students, Programs

Robin ’76 and Bob Starnes ’72, of Austin, committed $100,000 to establish a learning endowment in support of faculty, students, facilities and technology at Mays. The Starnes’ gift, which also funds a scholarship for an incoming freshman studying business, creates the Robin ’76 and Bob Starnes ’72 Learning Endowment.

The gift benefits services and facilities in Cox Hall at the Wehner building, home of the business school. “The Starnes’ generous gift will benefit many generations of Mays Business School students,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “Their gift continues the “Aggie Miracle,’ a process through which current students benefit from the generosity of former students and achieve a world-class education.”

Robin graduated from Mays with a BBA in marketing in 1976 and earned her MBA in business computing science from A&M in 1981. She is a product line manager for Houston-based BMC Software, a publicly-traded independent systems software vendor that zeroes in on IT solutions to aid business service management. Robin is also a former member of Mays’ Center for the Management of Information Systems advisory board. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 28 years and have one son, John David.

Bob is a 1972 A&M graduate with a BS from the College of Agriculture, who also earned his MBA at Mays. He is partner at an Austin-based investment group, the Ontra Companies, which focuses on financial and real estate asset investments and the development of skilled nursing and assisted living centers in Texas.

“We’ve had many opportunities open up for us because of our education and associations at A&M, and that’s why it’s important for us to give back,” Robin Starnes says. “We want to support the next generation of students.”

Categories: Centers, Departments, Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students

Rosalie R. and Clifton J. Bolner ’49, of San Antonio, have committed $25,000 to create an endowed scholarship for students at Mays. Their gift forms the Rosalie R. and Clifton J. Bolner ’49 and Family Endowed Scholarship in Business.

“The Bolners’ generous gift will provide students with the opportunity to achieve a first-rate education at a top business school,” says Dean Jerry Strawser. “The family’s benevolence will ensure the continued successes and accomplishments of our graduates.”

Clifton Bolner graduated with a bachelor’s of business in 1949 and in 1955 started spice import business Bolner’s Fiesta Products. Bolner is president and CEO to this day, giving the importer of 90 spices in the company’s 600-product line a 50-year family success story. He and Rosalie have been married for 56 years and have seven children, including four Texas A&M graduates, and 16 grandchildren who include a 2004 Aggie graduate. Bolner was named a Mays Outstanding Alumnus in 2004.

“Rosalie is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University with a bachelor’s in music,” he says. “At both schools we want to help all we can to expand the opportunities of higher education that we ourselves enjoyed.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students

Valerie M. and James R. Byrd ’57 have committed $100,000 to establish the Valerie Ryan Byrd Endowed Scholarship for qualified undergraduate students at Mays Business School. Scholarship funds are intended for business students who are members of the Corps of Cadets and current recipients of a Regents’ Scholarship. Preference is also given to graduates of high schools in Farmersville, Daingerfield and Newton, Texas, and Moreno Valley, New Mexico.

“The Byrd’s most generous gift will help provide an outstanding educational opportunity to our students,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “Because they are assisting students who qualify for a Regents’ Scholarship, their gift will reach out to students who are the first in their family to attend college. This makes an already generous gift even more impactful.”

Jim Byrd graduated from Texas A&M in 1957 with a degree in accounting. After an assignment as a State Department Foreign Service Officer in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 1959 to 1962, he earned his MBA at the University of Texas in 1963. A 25-year Exxon Corp. career followed with assignments in Libya, New York City, England and Norway. Jim met Valerie in Libya, and told her there was only one place she needed to see in the U.S.A. — College Station!

After experiencing Midnight Yell Practice and seeing the Cadet Corps, Valerie is a “loyal Aggie by marriage.” The Byrds now split their time between Kingwood, Texas (where his son also lives) and Angel Fire, New Mexico, where both are certified ski instructors.

“The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and business school made a major lifetime impact on me,” says Jim Byrd. “That is why I have made financial contributions to Texas A&M University every year since graduation. Valerie and I, along with ExxonMobil’s matching funds, are happy to establish this scholarship, and look forward to endowing additional scholarships in the future.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Mays Business School is now among the top-10 public business schools and top-25 overall for return on investment in Forbes magazines’ biennial “Best Business Schools” rankings.

Mays MBA program is ranked 24th overall and ninth among all public business schools. Both rankings are a move forward for Mays, which was ranked 32nd overall and 11th among public schools in 2003. The rankings appear in the Sept. 5 issue of Forbes.

Forbes ranks the best business schools based on the return on investment earned by MBA students following completion of their studies. The average Mays MBA graduate surveyed by Forbes more than doubled their pre-MBA salary over a five-year period. That same class saw a five-year gain of $89,000 over tuition and forgone salary.

It took just 2.4 years for Mays graduates to recoup their MBA investment, which put Mays at No. 3 among all schools included in Forbes‘ ranking.

“We are obviously pleased with our ranking in the Forbes survey,” Dean Jerry Strawser says. “Business school rankings measure many different things. The Forbes ranking is particularly meaningful, as it tells us our graduates are experiencing success following completion of our program.”

Mays has improved in each area where return on investment is calculated. In the 2001 rankings, for example, Mays students took 3.2 years to recoup their MBA investment compared to the average 2.4 years for students in this year’s ranking.

“This is a result of the collective efforts of many outstanding individuals,” says Bala Shetty, associate dean for graduate programs. “That includes accomplished faculty who provide excellent education to our students, dedicated Graduate Business Career Services and MBA Program staff who aid our students, and our graduates, who pursue their careers with vigor.”

Categories: Faculty, Programs

Rebecca Upham Nichols ’74 and William S. Nichols III ’74 of Houston have established an endowed professorship at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. Their gift, which creates the Rebecca U. ’74 and William S. Nichols III ’74 Endowed Professorship, supports the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of a faculty member.

“Our outstanding faculty is one of the greatest assets we have at Mays,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “The Nichols’ generous gift will enable us to recruit and retain the very best faculty, who create educational experiences that will continue to set our students apart from the competition.”

“It is my and Becky’s privilege to be part of the momentum that’s currently underway at Mays Business School,” William “Nick” Nichols said. “From our own experiences at Texas A&M, we know that outstanding faculty and students are the catalysts for any great program. We hope that our commitment will assist the Mays program in recruiting the very best faculty to Texas A&M.”

Nick, a CPA, graduated from Woodville High School in 1970 and was a member of the Corps of Cadets, unit A-1. He earned his BBA in accounting in 1974 and worked for Arthur Young and Co. until 1984, when he co-founded Houston-based Suncor Development, a commercial real estate development firm. He currently serves as president of Suncor.

Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Upham Nichols graduated from A&M Consolidated High School in 1970. She earned a bachelor’s in veterinary medicine from A&M in 1974 and a DVM in 1976. Becky co-founded Kingsland Blvd. Animal Clinic in 1981 and retired in 2004.

Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students