September, 2008 | Mays Impacts

Bailout, subprime mortgage, toxic assets, insolvency, systemic risk, reverse auction, recession…for those not in the financial world, these phrases in the news are more than alarming, they are also confusing. Cutting through the jargon, two representatives from Bank of America spoke to an audience of Mays Business School students at Texas A&M University on September 24, about the current economic turmoil in the U.S.

Roger Davis ’84 and Richard Stein ’92, senior vice presidents in lending for lodging and real estate, and energy and sports, respectively, presented students with an in-depth and understandable perspective of the marketplace.

Wall Street signs
According to Roger Davis ’84, the most striking aspect of the current market decline isn’t the size of the shift, but the speed.

Davis asked, what is the market’s oldest barometer, the Dow Jones, telling us? “It’s an unprecedented shift in the market,” he said, not due to the size of the shift, but the speed. He says there have been much bigger market declines over the years. For perspective: the crash of ’29 was an 89 percent decline over three years. Today’s shift has been 23 percent over less than one year. “Are we in the beginning of another great depression? I tend to not think so,” he said, drawing parallels to the S&L (savings and loan) crisis of the 80s and 90s. “It took seven years to work it out and Texas was in a recession,” he said, noting that eventually, the state got through it.

Davis said that if you want to point fingers, the blame belongs on investment banks for engaging in risky financial behavior; residential loan clearing houses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for encouraging irresponsible borrowing; commercial banks that lent money based on the credit of collateralized debt obligations, which were often stuffed with sub-prime securities that few investors really understood; and rating agencies like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s for not understanding the risk involved in the subprime mortgages they were evaluating and recommending as sound investments. What it came down to was that everyone predicted that far fewer borrowers would default on their mortgages than what actually occurred.

Davis reminded students that though home ownership is wonderful, not everyone can feasibly afford to buy a house in places where the cost of living is high. Too frequently in recent years, even those that couldn’t afford a house were approved for a loan because banks saw the house as a good investment: either the borrower will repay the loan, or they will default and the sale of the house, which should have appreciated in value, would cover any losses. However, as the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, banks were getting stuck with defaulted loans and depreciating properties.

This bad debt scenario has lead to a lack of liquidity in bank assets, so that the continuous flow of loans from one financial institution to another is seizing up. (That is, when bank A owes bank B money, and bank B owes bank C money, when A can’t pay, B doesn’t get paid, then C doesn’t get paid, and so on.) The Bush administration’s bailout plan would purchase these “toxic assets” and free up funds so that banks would start lending again—to each other, as well as to individuals and corporations.  Davis also mentioned that the distress of American banks is having an impact globally, as the financial industry worldwide is intertwined. He says foreign banks are now very hesitant to do business with American ones because they fear they will not recoup their investment.

On the bright side, Davis did tell students that the next 18-24 months might be a great time for them to buy a house, if they get a good job after graduation and can afford the payments. He predicts home prices are going to stay low for another year or two before they will stabilize. However, he also told students that it is probably going to be harder for them to find a job after graduation if the economy is still in recession. So far, Texas has not been greatly affected by this credit crisis. Davis told students they would do well to look for jobs in Dallas or Houston after graduating, as those are areas that are still experiencing growth.

Davis and Stein reported that economists predict America has a 50 percent chance of a mild recession, with slightly negative economic growth and slightly increased unemployment. They also said there’s a 45 percent chance we’ll have a deep recession, with increases in unemployment and inflation, which would lead to a global recession. In a time of recession, a major problem is wealth-hoarding: companies prefer to keep what they’ve got, rather than risk anything on new ventures. Stein says that the economic system has stalled because no one is buying at the moment, since the markets seem shaky. He sees the government bailout as a necessary evil, as it will hopefully free up cash, which will allow banks to start trading again.

“The financial arteries of the nation are clogged,” he said. “We’re about to have a heart attack…if [the bailout] is not passed by Tuesday, we are in serious risk of a meltdown.” Stein told students that Tuesday is the start of the new fiscal quarter, when it will be essential for new trading to begin. In his opinion, the government could actually make money on the bailout, as they will be buying discounted assets that, with proper handling, could turn a profit.

At the end of the presentation, Davis asked the student audience, “How many of you are scared right now?” Nearly every hand went up. “We will come through this,” he assured students. “We’ve been through worse. We will survive this.” He also counseled students to take notes, as they are not likely to ever again have an opportunity to learn so much about how the economy works.

Addendum

Since Davis and Stein’s presentation, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the bailout plan) failed in the House of Representatives on September 29. The plan was revised and passed on October 3.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

During the week, Cynthia ’84 and Rance ’83 Richter are business partners, but on the weekends they team up for a different purpose: to yell for the Aggies, donning maroon t-shirts and singing the Aggie War Hymn. Though the Richters currently reside in Austin, the couple spends almost as much time in College Station, attending sporting events and showing constant support for their alma mater, Texas A&M University. But just visiting isn’t enough—the Richters want to do more. That’s why they decided to present Mays Business School at A&M with a $25,000 gift, establishing the Cynthia ’84 and Rance Richter ’83 Dean’s Endowed Scholarship.

The Richters
Rance ’83 and Cynthia ’84 Richter, joint chairmen and CEOs of Vanguard Fire Systems, also have two children currently enrolled at Texas A&M.

“Scholarship support is the lifeblood of any institution,” said Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School. “The Richters’ generous gift will allow our students to experience the power of the “Aggie Miracle’…the process through which the work of an outstanding young person of modest means is supported by our former students.”

That Aggie miracle is just what the Richters are aiming for. “Both Cindy and I went through Mays. It has helped our careers tremendously and I hope that I can help someone else and give back to the school that gave me so much,” said Richter. Since 2003, the couple has owned Vanguard Fire Systems, which sells and services commercial and residential fire protection systems. Rance and Cindy both serve as chairmen and CEOs of their joint business endeavor. When creating the business, the Richters made it their goal to build an organization grounded in the knowledge and standards they learned in their days at Mays.

The Richter’s stress the importance of Texas A&M University’s community spirit in their daily business. “It’s amazing to me how such a big school can continue to grow, yet still retain the friendly feel of a small environment. We want to continue that tradition,” Richter said. Vanguard Fire Systems operates on the Aggie Honor Code, a set of standards that remain a top priority in the personal and professional lives of the successful couple. These standards fuel the Richter’s constant desire to give back to their home community as well, as they have received recognition for their support of Hospice Austin and the Eanes Education Foundation. The couple is also active in the Capital City A&M Club.

The Richters have brought the Aggie tradition into their home, as two of their three children attend A&M.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Ralph Wallingford ’53 knows the meaning of dedication. The Franklin-raised Aggie’s days as a Ross Volunteer in the Corps of Cadets taught him the importance of giving 110% effort in every task, be it school or extracurricular activities during his years at Texas A&M University. So many years later, the Corps-taught ideal of perseverance coupled with a top-notch accounting education have been the perfect formula for Wallingford’s success, something he wants to pass on to future generations of Aggie business students. For this reason, Wallingford and his wife Toni have included Mays Business School in an estate plan with a gift that could total $1.3 million.

“We appreciate the extreme generosity of Toni and Ralph Wallingford,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Their gift to our school will touch numerous lives and have significant benefits to our faculty, staff, students, and programs for years to come.”

After graduating from Texas A&M University with an accounting degree, Wallingford’s spirit of dedication to his country led him to military service. When he returned to civilian life, Wallingford went to work for Ernst & Ernst, which would eventually become one of the top accounting firms, Ernst & Young. Wallingford was determined to build his own success, which he did by establishing an accounting firm, Wallingford, McDonald, Fox & Company in Houston.

“Texas A&M has been a very important part of my life. All of my success is a result of the education that I received during the years I spent there,” said Wallingford.

As a former partner in his own accounting firm, Wallingford acknowledges the talented graduates that come out of Mays, explaining that the well-rounded education they receive is unlike that of any other business program. “I hope this gift helps strengthen Mays Business School even more. It is already far above many others in its realm,” added Wallingford, whose enthusiasm for providing students with educational opportunities has helped fund the General Rudder Corps Scholarship.

Though the time he spent building an accounting career was well worth it, with credits to his name such as a position as the former president of the Houston CPA chapter, Wallingford says that he is enjoying all of the benefits of retired life and just “taking it easy” in his Houston home.  He says his Aggieland memories are only a phone call away, as he still maintains contact with many classmates from his Ross Volunteer days.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University will host its annual Retailing Summit in Dallas, Texas, October 2-3. The event is expected to draw 250 retailing executives from the nation’s largest chains, such as H-E-B, Kohl’s, Harley-Davidson, Sewell Automotive and Zale Corporation.

Center for Retailing Studies

This event will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays, whose mission is to bridge the gap between the academic and retailing communities to serve the needs of students as well as retail firms. The summit is the center’s premier executive education program.

Summit speakers will include top-level executives such as Myron Ullman, CEO and chairman of JCPenney and Ed Holman, chairman and CEO of Macy’s Central, as well as authors Jack Mitchell (Hug your People and Hug your Customers) and Terri Kabachnick (I quit but I forgot to tell you).

Attendees will hear presentations on a variety of retail-related topics such as branding, customer service, employee engagement, and innovation. Of special significance will be a session on current demographic and economic changes and the impact on traditional retailers, presented by Kathleen Mason, president and CEO of Tuesday Morning.

“The summit is a great opportunity for attendees to learn best practices from today’s leading retailers,” said Cheryl Holland Bridges, director of the center. “It will also be a chance for them to build valuable networks. Breakout sessions have been added to the summit this year. We want the conference to encourage a high level of interaction among guests so that they can learn from the wealth of experience among their fellow attendees.” The summit attracts senior management and executives from all areas of the retailing industry.

The conference will be held at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas. For more details or to register, visit www.retailingsummit.org.

About the center

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) is committed to excellence in retail education, research, and service. The center’s programs prepare students for careers in retailing and provide retailers with outstanding graduates. The CRS was the first retailing center partnered with a business school and it remains the nation’s premier institution of retailing education. Housed in the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School, the center is privately funded by more than 35 sponsor companies from throughout the nation.

About Mays Business School

Mays Business School currently enrolls more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students. Mays is nationally ranked among public business schools not only for the quality of its undergraduate program, but also its MBA program and the faculty scholarship of its 105 professors in five departments.

Categories: Centers

Marcus Buckingham, the internationally acclaimed author, independent consultant, and speaker, will be making a stop at Texas A&M University to present his motivational career strategy session “The Truth About You.” This appearance on Tuesday, October 7 at Rudder Theatre is part of a national live tour. Buckingham’s visit is hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at A&M’s Mays Business School.

Flint
Buckingham

Buckingham’s program will focus on how to find true career direction, capitalize on your uniqueness, and create a worklife that plays to your strengths. It will be an important and practical message for students making career plans as well as professionals that want to better manage their careers.

All tickets to this event include a free book, DVD and memo pad. Special prices are available for students and educators, though the program is open to the public. Tickets may be purchased at boxoffice.tamu.edu.

Buckingham is the author of Go put your strengths to work! and First break all the rules. He has presented to major companies such as Microsoft, Gap, Coca-Cola, Intel, and John Deere, and has been featured in dozens of publications, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

For more information, visit www.marcusbuckingham.com or www.cnve.org.

Categories: Centers, Texas A&M

Between classes, extra curricular activities, and jobs, the life of your average Texas A&M undergrad is busy, to say the least. Perry D. Reed “76 knows the meaning of a jam-packed college schedule. During his days at A&M, Reed balanced courses in finance, part-time jobs, and try-outs for a walk-on position on the Aggie football team. In honor of the students who work so hard to obtain a business education while balancing the other requirements of college life, Reed has donated $25,000 to Mays Business School, establishing the Perry D. Reed ’76 Endowed Scholarship in Accounting. The generous former student has also included Mays in his estate plan with a gift of $100,000.

Flint
Reed

After already giving more than $100,000 to Texas A&M University in previous gifts, Reed strives to help focused students with financial needs that might not otherwise be met. “When I was at Texas A&M, there was little scholarship opportunity for students with mid-level grades. Today, I want to help these young people,” said Reed. “I think one of the greatest things about the Aggie Miracle is the ability it gives to measure success by the legacy one leaves behind,” he added.

“Perry Reed is one of our former students who continues to express his love for Texas A&M University through his generosity,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “His commitments to our school will allow many students to benefit through an outstanding education and unlimited career opportunities.”

Reed graduated from A&M with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1976, finishing his education in only two and a half years. He then went to work for H.B. Zachry Company, where he spent most of his professional time in Saudi Arabia as an administrative manager. After nine years with Zachry, Reed took on an accounting position in Marshall, Texas. His love for numbers and customer relations eventually led Reed to open his own certified public accounting firm, Perry D. Reed & Company, P.C, in Longview, Texas. Reed remains president and CEO of the firm today, where he focuses on maintaining the professionalism taught in his business classes at Texas A&M. “I live and breathe maroon,” said Reed.

Reed’s legacy is carried on in more than just his charitable giving. His son, Perry T. Reed, is a senior at Texas A&M, graduating this December. He is the lead guitar player in the local country outfit The Grady Skelton Band. Reed plays a major role in his son’s musical career, as he and Perry T. are joint owners of a recording company, Reed Production Company, LLC. In addition to his musical endeavors, Reed is also the past president of the Deep East A&M Club. While making his home in Longview, Texas, Reed is also licensed in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

On Saturdays in the fall, they have only one thing on their mind when donning their starched white uniforms and matching athletic shoes: leading the Aggie team to victory and preserving the 12th Man spirit that defines Texas A&M University. Finance majors Ben Debayle ’09 and Casey Schaefer ’10, both from Katy, are both serving as Aggie yell leaders this year, balancing this demanding position with their role as students at Mays Business School.

For yell leaders, performances are a year-round activity, not just something they do during football season. The group travels across Texas from week to week, even in the summer and on school holidays. But take away their celebrity status and the Aggie yell leaders are just your everyday college students, challenged to manage the tasks that fill their planners. Debayle and Schaefer say that their ability to handle such high expectations is due to their experience in the Corps of Cadets.

Kopp
Finance majors Ben Debayle ’09 (second from left) and Casey Schaefer ’10 (far right) are both serving as Aggie yell leaders this year.

“I think the Corps really prepared us both for this. The Corps responsibilities and the pressure you get in your freshman year really prepare you for what you have to do as a yell leader,” said Debayle. While fellow Aggies enjoyed leisurely summer activities, Debayle and Schaefer joined the three other yell leaders in almost daily performances. The group visited several Texas cities to perform for A&M Clubs, Aggie Mom’s Clubs, and schools; the group often had to split up to cover all of the events. Adding to the packed schedule, Debayle, Schaefer, and the rest of their crew attended football two-a-days, promoted and planned First Yell, and introduced traditions to the next generation of Aggies at each session of Fish Camp.

Debayle and Schaefer say that being part of one of Texas A&M’s greatest traditions makes it all worthwhile. “There’s not much we can complain about. Yeah, there are times when we get only one or two hours of sleep a night, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. We did this freshman year in the Corps, so now it’s nothing. We just get up and go, just do it,” said Schaefer.

Along with a positive attitude, both Debayle and Schaefer have applied the ideals of hard work and dedication learned in the Corps to their career goals. They both plan to attend law school after graduation, and currently make school a priority despite their busy schedules. Both are excellent scholars, achieving high marks in the classroom.

For Schaefer, the desire to spread the spirit of the 12th Man could in part be a result of his Aggie bloodline. His father graduated with an accounting degree in 1977, and his grandfather is a proud member of the class of 1928. “Looking at where we’ve come from and where we’re at now, this is just such a special time at Texas A&M. It’s awesome to keep that Aggie Spirit alive, the thing that makes this school so special,” he said.

For Debayle, who serves as chaplain for the Corps of Cadets, being a yell leader is more than just about the tradition; he also sees it as a unique ministry opportunity as he gets to interact with so many people. “I really looked up to the upperclassmen in the Corps when I was a freshman, they taught me a lot about myself spiritually and physically. I always knew this position would be a great opportunity to be there for another freshman someday,” he said.

Being an Aggie yell leader isn’t all business. “We’re expected to be polite young gentlemen, but when we get a free chance and it’s just the five of us, we always find a way to have fun and get into a little trouble—but not too much of course,” said Debayle.

Fun and games aside, the Aggie yell leaders help build the foundation of tradition at A&M and Debayle and Schaefer are proud of their involvement. “A&M has changed, it’s just the nature of things. But one thing that will never change is the spirit, and we are the leaders that are responsible for keeping that alive on campus,” said Debayle.

Categories: Featured Stories, Students, Texas A&M

Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America, was honored with the 2008 Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University on September 17. This award is given in memory of Harold Kupfer ’54 and recognizes a business professional that has made a significant impact on the world. Since 1990, Kopp has sought to bring equal education to low-income school districts across the nation by managing a teaching corps.

Kopp
Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America, was honored with the 2008 Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award.

“Still to this day, in this country that aspires to be a land of opportunity for all, where you’re born determines your educational prospects and your life prospects,” said Kopp, who addressed a class of more than 300 students at Mays. Teach For America’s mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity in the nation by enlisting its most promising future leaders in the effort. “Ultimately, I know we’ll get there,” says Kopp, who describes TFA teachers as “relentless” and “inspiring leaders” that motivate their students with their passion. “They go into a situation a lot of people have given up on…and they set a vision,” she said. “What they’re proving to us at the classroom level is that [educational inequality] is a problem that is solvable.”

Through Teach For America, Kopp has addressed the education gap by retraining top-of-their class seniors graduating from colleges across the country in every discipline, from history to medicine, and equipping them to teach in underfunded K-12 schools. Since its inception, Teach For America has impacted hundreds of thousands of young people in urban and rural areas by providing them with excellent teachers. There are currently 6,000 TFA teachers in the field and 14,000 alumni. Kopp encouraged her student audience to consider serving some of the 13 million children growing up in poverty in the U.S. for two years as a teacher after graduating from Mays.

“She was inspiring,” said Laren Tuttle, a freshman from San Marcos, Texas, who heard Kopp speak. “So many people just out of college don’t know what to do. Teach For America can give them an opportunity to change themselves and make a positive change for others, too.”

Gerald Ray ’54 and Donald Zale ’55 sponsor the Kupfer Distinguished Executive event to honor their friend and fellow Corps member. As part of this celebration, they also gave two scholarships to current Corps members, Levi Thomas and T.J. Baker.

Categories: Executive Speakers

Brett Anitra Gilbert, assistant professor of management at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, has been reappointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve on the Texas Emerging Technology Fund advisory committee. Gilbert was originally selected to finish out the term of Texas A&M President Elsa Murano, which expires August 31 of this year. She has now been reappointed to the committee for another two-year term.

Gilbert
Gilbert

The advisory committee for the fund meets four to five times each year to review applications for funding from entrepreneurs that are still in the planning and development stage of their proposed technological product or service. Gilbert and the other 16 members of the advisory committee examine dozens of proposals each year before making recommendations to the governor as to which candidates should receive the state funding.

The purpose of the fund is to bring scientists and researchers to Texas as a means of boosting the state economy through job creation. The fund, which has awarded $110 million since it began in 2006, attracts high-tech jobs and helps start-up companies get off the ground faster.

Gilbert holds a PhD in entrepreneurship from Indiana University. Prior to joining the Mays faculty in the fall of 2007, she was an assistant professor of management at Georgia State University. She is currently teaching courses on creativity and innovation at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition, she also serves as a reviewer for the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Business Venturing and Small Business Economics.

Categories: Faculty