“Public service is duty,” Chairman Donald E. Powell told a room full of Mays MBA students. “Lots of us talk about it, but few of us do it.”

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Chairman Donald E. Powell recently spoke to Mays MBA students about the important of public service for the business community.
If anyone is qualified to motivate students about public service, it’s Chairman Powell. President George W. Bush appointed Powell as the Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding on November 1, 2005, making him the liaison between state, local and federal governments in handling the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Chairman Powell was hard-pressed to find a team who would work with him on this challenging project, as many thought no significant good could be done. But that answer wasn’t sufficient for Chairman Powell.

Chairman Donald E. Powell recently spoke to Mays MBA students about his work with the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort.”Don’t let anyone override your heart or tell you what you can and cannot do,” he says.

Powell accepted an invitation by Interim Dean of Mays Business School Ricky Griffin to speak to MBA students at the Cocanougher Center on September 28, 2007. Powell spoke with authority, as he isn’t new to the realm of public service.

After founding The First National Bank of Amarillo (his hometown) in 1997, Powell eventually became its president and CEO. He’s joined numerous boards and committees, and served as chairman of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System, and advisory board member of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. Before his appointment by President Bush, Powell acted as the 18th chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from August 29, 2001 through November 15, 2005.

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Chairman Powell, seen here meeting with MBA students, is a former chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Chairman Powell stressed to Mays MBAs that community service is not just meant for leaders in power or people with free time—it’s meant for everyone, especially the business world.

“Care about public schools. Care about healthcare. Care about quality of life issues,” he says. “Who should take care of these issues? Some would say government officials. I say the business community. The business community is always involved.”

Students sat with wide eyes and open ears as Chairman Powell told them of his business failures, emphasizing the importance of fundamentals and integrity, as well as the value of capitalism and the competitive spirit. Before opening up a question and answer session, Chairman Powell left students with this charge:

“Young people, we should never forget that for our quality of life, capitalism is the main component. Defend it. Cherish it. Make it better.”