May, 2001 | Mays Impacts

What started as a routine chore of washing dishes has become a successful 29-year endeavor for Crate and Barrel founders Gordon and Carol Segal. The couple wanted to offer well-designed products at affordable prices and when they secured a storefront in Chicago’s Old Town in 1962, Crate and Barrel was born. Now, almost three decades later, Crate and Barrel offers an array of affordable, usable gourmet cookware and housewares in 96 stores in 21 U.S. markets. It also provides gift registry and catalog and Web shopping.

In recognition of Crate and Barrel’s success, Gordon Segal, who also serves as the company’s CEO, presented the fourth annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture. The lecture, which honors the late jewelry retailer and founder MB Zale, was sponsored by the college’s Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) and is made possible by an endowment established by the M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation.

“Mr. Segal is an innovative merchant and visionary leader,” said Dr. David Szymanski, director of the CRS. “He and his company are ideal examples of creativity and leadership the lecture series honors.”

Segal’s vision as an entrepreneur and merchant have not gone unnoticed, as he’s received numerous honors and awards, including the National Retail Federation’s 2000 Gold Medal Award Winner and the Gourmet Products Show/Home-World Business Industry Lifetime Achievement Award.

Categories: Departments, Executive Speakers, Faculty

Mays MBA students put aside the textbooks and PowerPoint presentations and tried their hands at singing and acting to raise money for charity at the recent MBA Association (MBAA) /Central Charity Challenge Follies and Auction. Held at the 3rd Floor Cantina in downtown Bryan, the first ever event attracted approximately 130 faculty and staff, students and guests.

“We raised almost $3,000 for the Innercity Games in Los Angeles, local shelters and other need-based organizations,” said Brenda Steinacher, a first year MBA student and event coordinator. “People donated various items to be auctioned, such as wine tasting, an hour to discuss the stock market, tutoring, dog obedience training and tickets to events.”

The fundraiser was a combined effort between the MBAA group and the Central Charity Challenge, a group of MBA students that competes with other MBA programs around the country to raise the most money for charity throughout the year. The event was sponsored in part by Equiva and 3rd Floor Cantina, while Four Seasons Hotel in Austin donated a night’s stay to be auctioned.

“The follies and auction had the best turnout of any event that we’ve sponsored this year,” said Leigh Robinson, MBAA social director. “So, we hope to continue it every year.”

Categories: Departments, Programs, Students

While the California energy crisis has sparked a great deal of discussion regarding deregulation, Texans can rest assured they will have energy for years to come. Thanks to visionaries like TXU Chairman and CEO Erle Nye ’59, a level playing field now exists in the energy industry, stimulating competition and growth.

Because of his key role in the deregulation of Texas public utilities and his ability to reposition TXU during a critical time, Nye was named the 2001 Conn Distinguished New Venture Leader by the college’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. Funded by a gift from Carroll (C.W.) and Dorothy Conn, the award recognizes an outstanding business leader who has achieved extraordinary success through a business start up or in the transformation of an existing company. The first recipient was college namesake Lowry Mays, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Communications, who received the award last year.

“Deregulation was not easy and competition is challenging as well,” Nye said during his recent lecture at the college. “During the transition from deregulation to competition, everything that was nailed down came loose — the change impacted every aspect of TXU. But we came through it well, because of the ability of our workforce to adapt to the new set of circumstances and because of our strong corporate culture.”

Nye has worked for TXU and its predecessor companies for his entire adult life. As chief financial officer, he presided over the mergers that formed TXU, including joining three Texas power companies with Enserch/Lone Star Gas in 1997. This merger expanded the company beyond electricity generation, transmission and distribution and into the natural gas business, making it one of the largest corporations in the industry. Today, TXU serves 11 million customers worldwide, with over $22 billion in yearly revenues.

“The Conn New Venture Leader Award recognizes recognizes people in large corporate settings who demonstrate the creativity and innovation needed to change the very face of business in this country,” explained Dean Benton Cocanougher. “The contributions of our first two recipients, Lowry Mays and Erle Nye, have made definite, lasting impressions both on their own companies and on their industries.”

Nye also plays a variety of roles in Texas higher education, including a current six-year appointment to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. He also serves on the Texas A&M Foundation Advisory Committee and is a member of the Chancellor’s Century Council of Advisors.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students, Texas A&M

The Mays College will have new leadership starting July 1, as Dr. Jerry R. Strawser, interim dean of the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, has been named Dr. Benton Cocanougher’s successor as dean. The appointment is pending final approval of the Texas A&M University System Chancellor.

The move to Texas A&M will be a return home of sorts for Strawser, who received three accounting degrees from the Mays College, including a BBA in 1983, a master’s of science in 1984 and a doctorate in 1985. In 1999, he accepted the position of interim dean at the University of Houston, where he is the Arthur Andersen and Co. Alumni Professor of Accountancy and Taxation. Before serving as interim dean, he served four years as the associate dean for academic and research programs. Strawser was on Louisiana State University faculty for five years before joining the University of Houston.

In making the announcement, A&M Executive Vice President and Provost Ronald G. Douglas said, “I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Strawser’s ability to provide the leadership required to continue the growth in quality programs of the Texas A&M University Lowry Mays College and Graduate School of Business.”

Be on the look out for more coverage of Strawser in upcoming issues of Mays Business Online.

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Texas A&M