Peggy L. and Charles L. Brittan ’65 have added to their roster of scholarships at Texas A&M University an Endowed Opportunity Award for business students.

The Brittans favor Endowed Opportunity Awards because such an award helped Charles Brittan pay for his Aggie education more than four decades ago. They also like to meet the recipients of their scholarships when possible.

Charles L. '65 and Peggy L. Brittan
Charles L. ’65 and Peggy L. Brittan

“We like to have contact with the recipients because we are impressed by every one of them we meet,” Peggy Brittan says. “And in industry, across the board, I have been very impressed with Aggie graduates.”

The perpetual nature of the endowed award will benefit recipients for generations to come, and the focus on full-time business majors at Mays pays homage to Peggy Brittan’s career at ExxonMobil. “Even though I didn’t have a degree in business, that is where I worked and what I know,” Peggy Brittan explains. “I dealt with finances and accounting — supported the business side of things.”

Charles Brittan owns C.L. Brittan, an oil and gas field services company.

The Brittans say the care they receive from representatives at the Texas A&M Foundation prompts them to continue giving. “We really like the way the Foundation treats the donors,” Peggy Brittan says. “They are very, very good at helping donors find opportunities that suit them well.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser expresses his appreciation for the couple. “The Brittans are donors who give from both the pocket and the heart,” he says. “The students who benefit from their generosity receive both financial support and personal support. They are true role models for the students they support.”

ExxonMobil matches charitable contributions by retirees and employees 3-to-1 up to $7,500 a year, and Peggy Brittan says the A&M Foundation helps them find additional ways to further enhance their gifts. “People say, “I don’t have that kind of money,’ but I say, “We don’t either.’ But over the years, we have utilized the ExxonMobil matches, and the Foundation is good about letting us know any time there is a matching donor we can partner with,” she says.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School is hosting H-E-B Day at Texas A&M University on Tuesday (Feb. 28) on campus. Fifteen high-ranking H-E-B executives, including presidents, vice presidents, and directors, will address more than 2,000 students in more than 20 classes during the one-day period.

The center partners with the 107-year-old San Antonio-based retailer for this interdisciplinary educational event to show students that H-E-B is an innovator in not only the grocery business, but also in supply chain, finance, animal science and industrial distribution. It is a profitable, growing company, rich with career opportunities.

New concept stores, such as Joe V Smart Shop, the Latino-focused Mi Tienda or upscale Montrose Market, demonstrate how this independent grocery chain carefully adapts to better serve its diverse customers in their own communities. The company uses the tag line, “My H-E-B,” because if you shop at one store, it feels like your personal store.

“The H-E-B executives enhance classroom curriculum by discussing solutions for real-world workplace challenges,” said Cheryl Holland Bridges, director of the center. “Speakers have coordinated with hosting professors to customize content for each class based on what students have been studying.” By addressing classes across different majors – including marketing, agri-business, poultry science, meat science, information systems and others – the event communicates to students that a $13 billion grocery company encompasses all business fields and is eager to hire Aggies.

Texas A&M is the company’s top university partner, serving as a pipeline to talent for many years. Recruiter Shelley Hajovsky says, “Texas A&M is a natural fit for H-E-B. We share the same values of history, tradition, leadership, integrity & service. Aggies who begin their careers with H-E-B have done incredibly well.”

Bridges adds: “When so many senior officers from a major corporation make a commitment to come to campus from all over Texas, it really says something. H-E-B is making a huge investment in Aggie education.”

The Center for Retailing Studies promotes and supports retailing through student and executive education programs, research and service.

For complete list of H-E-B executives planning to be on campus, visit

Categories: Centers

The 10th annual MBA Venture Challenge, hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), highlights the business aptitudes Texas A&M University’s Full-Time MBA program strives to teach—strategic thinking, diligent research, effective communication skills and professional networking.

Each year since 2003, teams of first-year MBA students have participated in the Venture Challenge. The teams are assigned an early-stage venture (often originating from Texas A&M research labs), and are asked to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the enterprise.

CNVE director Richard Lester (top right) and the first place team at this year's MBA Venture Challenge
CNVE director Richard Lester (top right) and the first place team at this year’s MBA Venture Challenge (view more photos)

Richard Lester, executive director of Mays’ CNVE, calls the MBA Venture Challenge “a significant immersion for our students in experiential education. They investigate actual early-stage companies that are balancing the demands of new marketplaces in addition to financing and technological challenges.”

In order to do well in the competition, the MBA teams must objectively and meticulously evaluate each venture based on its viability in the competitive business arena. According to the CNVE website, “the Venture Challenge is a great way to showcase our students and diverse research portfolio to the business and investment community.”

Each team presents a two-minute elevator pitch based on its analysis of the venture to a panel of judges from the business and academic community. After the initial elevator pitches, the top six teams are chosen to present 15-minute “venture pitches” to a room full of judges, business representatives and peers. This year, the finalists’ ventures ranged from a respiratory drug to treat cystic fibrosis to an online travel-booking enterprise.

“The event brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Mays Business School, such as venture capitalists, bankers, technologists and many others,” says Lester. These qualified judges pepper the students with questions, revealing the MBA teams’ expertise (or lack thereof) in their researched venture.

Lester says the Venture Challenge is an integral part of full-time MBA students’ experience at Mays, claiming the competition provides a “rich educational experience for the students and a significant networking opportunity for our college and our attendees.”

This year’s winners were:

  • First Place ($3,000): Jenna Beyer, Emil Boehm, Matt Buzby, Joel Cunninghman, D.J. McCarty and Joseph Pluhar; Incellerate
  • Second Place ($2,000): Luke Baker, Mark Herman, Craig Hooker, James Kelly, Jr. and Scott Monk; The Patria Group Corp.
  • Third Place ($1,000): Jemison Bartlett, Justin Gibbs, Sarah Hassan, Amey Karnik and Nicholas Vernon; Savara Inc.

Categories: Programs, Students

“What are Texas A&M’s six core values?” Dean Jerry Strawser opened at the recent 2012 Kupfer Scholarship Luncheon. “Excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, selfless service… you just helped me introduce Gerald Ray and Donald Zale.”

(L to R) Donald Zale '55, Jerry Strawser '83, Clayton Shilling '12 and Gerald Ray '54
(L to R) Donald Zale ’55, Jerry Strawser ’83, Clayton Shilling ’12 and Gerald Ray ’54 (view more photos)

Ray ’54 and Zale ’55, two successful businessmen and generous Aggies, created the Kupfer Distinguished Scholar Award, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement and exemplary leadership in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. The award commemorates the legacy of their friend, Harold L. Kupfer, who Ray and Zale describe as a selfless man who made great contributions to Texas business.

This year, the Kupfer scholarship was awarded to Clayton Shillings ’12. Shillings is currently a member of the Corps of Cadets’ Company K-1, as well as a member of the Brotherhood of Christian Aggies and a Breakaway volunteer. He was recognized at a luncheon at the Sanders Corp Center.

Shillings came to Texas A&M as an engineering major, but after two years of classes, he realized his favorite course was the finance class he took for his business minor. “I knew something had to be wrong with that,” Shillings quipped. He joined Mays Business School as a finance major shortly after.

The Houston native has excelled in academics, campus involvement and the embodiment of Texas A&M’s core values—the very reasons Ray and Zale selected him to represent their good friend’s commitment to respect and leadership.

Always “fascinated with the military,” Shillings signed an Army contract his junior year and says he looks forward to serving his country.

Categories: Students

The definition of success differs for each person, John Veihmeyer told a room of professional program students and KPMG employees during a recent visit to Mays.

“It not only depends on one’s aspirations, but also their stage in life,” explained the world-renowned accountant and current chairman and chief executive officer of KPMG LLP, the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. Veihmeyer has been named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today magazine and has spoken to numerous university classes and audiences across the country on the critical role of ethics and integrity in leadership.

John Veihmeyer with current and former KPMG interns from Mays
John Veihmeyer with current and former KPMG interns from Mays

Veihmeyer’s discussion with students and professionals was one of inspiration, encouragement and leadership.

When asked about the best aspect of his job, Veihmeyer responded with, “being able to work with amazing people every day.” Growing with others through their experiences “has provided the most rewarding and educating moments throughout my career as a partner and in executive leadership.”

The foundation of Veihmeyer’s dialogue was based on the initiatives of ethics, social responsibility and diversity that he has advocated while leading KPMG LLP.

Veihmeyer has implemented numerous diversity programs that foster a spirit of unity through individuality. Specific to college students, Veihmeyer created the Future Diversity Leaders, an initiative that identifies and mentors students early in their college career. Another program, The Key Accounts Rotation, ensures that young professionals at KPMG encounter a broad range of experiences early in their professional career through unique client exposure.

Students in attendance enjoyed hearing Veihmeyer’s stories of success and encouragement for the future professional workforce.

“It was a phenomenal experience to listen to John Veihmeyer,” said Young Kim, a senior in the Mays Professional Program. “I was inspired and educated on accounting and life at the same time.”

Throughout the day, Veihmeyer spoke with many groups of students and faculty, including current KPMG interns, accounting professors and Group XXI of the Professional Program.

Several topics and experiences were addressed during the discussions; however, one theme resounded throughout many of the dialogues – the necessity of enjoying your occupation.

“Follow your heart and find a job that excites you everyday when you wake up. No amount of money is worth the strain of unhappiness.”

Categories: Executive Speakers

Todd M. Tomlin ’93, who started his career in investment banking, says he has found his niche in private equity. The honors graduate in finance from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School told management graduate students and Business Honors undergraduates he preferred math courses in college, but that he is glad he also took some management courses. “The people side of it is the most rewarding, but it’s also without question the hardest thing to manage on a daily basis,” he says. “You have to learn early on how to deal with people across a variety of situations and to help them maximize the talents, both of themselves and also those around them.”

“You have to learn early on how to deal with people across a variety of situations and to help them maximize the talents, both of themselves and also those around them,” Todd Tomlin ’93 told students. (view more photos)

Tomlin was a founding partner of Turnbridge Capital, and currently focuses entirely on investment opportunities in the energy and infrastructure segments. He says his “six-person shop” focuses on companies that are “a Southwest flight away” because of the close involvement required once the group takes on a partnership with a new management team. “We’re more than their financial partners, we’re also their strategic partners,” he says. “We’re a lot more than money, we’re their friend, confidante, mentor … We get to help people with things they don’t know how to tackle and things that could ruin their businesses.”

Tomlin says the first 10 years of his career, working on a variety of financing and advisory transactions and principal investments, helped prepare him for what he is doing now. “The pay is worse, but life is better now,” he says. “In investment banking, every Friday afternoon you’re going to get a call that’s going to ruin your weekend. Now, everything I spend my time on is something I choose to spend my time on. We’re entrepreneurs in our own way, and the risk/return can be very rewarding.”

Once he was on the inside within investment banking, Tomlin says, it quickly didn’t matter where he came from or went to school. “They just cared if I got my work done the night before,” he recalls. “Students from Texas A&M are as well equipped for the challenge as peers from any other school I encountered.”

In addition to a good work ethic, Tomlin encourages students to rack up further advantages by being mobile, especially early in their careers. “If I were you, I would be willing to take advantage of geographic or divisional moves during the early phases of your career; in the process, I think you can experience different people and regions, and broaden your perspectives and long-term mobility,” he says. “Large, global companies, in particular, offer tremendous diversity of experience for those willing to take advantage of such opportunities.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Shannon Deer, a lecturer and assistant department head in the accounting department at Mays Business School, was selected as the 2012 recipient of the David Baggett Endowed Teaching Excellence Award.

The annual award is intended to recognize extraordinary efforts and innovation in teaching effectiveness, curriculum development and student services in the accounting department.

Previous awards went to accounting Associate Professor Connie Weaver in 2010 and accounting Professor Chris Wolfe in 2011. The recipients receive a plaque and a cash award.

The award was made possible through an endowment created by Denise and David Baggett ’81. David, who graduated with honors with an accounting degree, is the senior partner of Opportune LLP.

Deer’s accomplishments include:

  • Developing an energy accounting course in 2010 and subsequently making a number of improvements in the course. Enrollment in that course has increased from 35 in 2010 to 60 in 2012.
  • Successfully hosting the first Halliburton Energy Case Competition and currently coordinating the second annual competition. Halliburton was so pleased with the first-year results that they quadrupled the prize money for the winners.
  • Obtaining approval for an Energy Accounting Certificate Program, which will provide an opportunity for both BBA and PPA students to gain a competitive advantage in the industry.
  • Developing projects for the energy course with Marathon that allow students to gain real-world experience. Students going into public accounting can elect to audit a project to gain applicable audit experience.
  • Developing a series of video lectures for use in Accounting 229. She is filming weekly video lectures for students to watch prior to attending class. Class time is used for discussions and working challenging problems with students.
  • Setting up group office hours as an opportunity for students to ask questions or work problems in a group environment.
  • Along with watching videos prior to class, students are required to complete a packet prior to coming to class — an approach that has significantly increased the number of students who are prepared prior to class.
  • Mentoring a PPA student teaching a one-hour Excel course to 34 undergraduate students and an undergraduate student teaching a one-hour general energy industry course to 20 undergraduate students (meets with them weekly to prepare for class, attends class, and provides feedback);
  • Serving as the lead instructor for the Becker CPA review course for five years, mentoring students in their application and preparation to take the CPA exam; and meets with many former students to help them in choosing their track for PPA and internship locations.
  • Working with BBA students, helping them obtain employment, especially in the energy industry.

Categories: Faculty

“Imagine a car driving down an icy road late at night. The road is windy and the car hits a patch of ice and begins to spin out,” Jim Rickards opens to a room of Mays Business School finance students.

“Now imagine taking a picture of the car while it spins out. Nothing seems wrong when you only look at the photo,” he continues. “That’s how policy makers are looking at our economy. They see the snapshot and claim “nothing is wrong’—maybe a dent or small scratch on the car. But we all know that the trajectory of the car is headed for disaster.”

Economist and author Jim Rickards recently offered students, faculty and guests at Mays an analysis of the nation's current financial situation and some possible outcomes in the future.
Economist and author Jim Rickards recently offered students, faculty and guests at Mays an analysis of the nation’s current financial situation and some possible outcomes in the future. (view more photos)

Rickards is a nationally renowned economist, lawyer and investment banker. A frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and other top business shows, he is “one of today’s leading experts in national economic security and monetary policy,” finance department head Sorin Sorescu says in an email to Mays colleagues. Rickards currently holds the position of senior managing director at Tangent Capital in New York City and also advises high-ranking officials in the U.S. and abroad on financial issues.

Rickards’ recent book, Currency Wars, examines the interaction between macroeconomics and national security. It offers a pragmatic analysis of our nation’s current financial situation, as well as what the road ahead might look like.

Famous for his predictions of the Federal Reserve’s major moves (including “Operation Twist 2” and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers), Rickards told students, “When you have the right analytical method, your ability to look over the horizon is greatly increased.” He emphasizes that learning the “warning signs” is extremely valuable knowledge.

The framework for Rickards’ analytical method is derived from his extensive historical knowledge.

Currency Wars, which he defines as “the devaluation of one country’s currency against that of another in order to increase exports and economic growth,” are seen throughout history. According to Rickards, the world saw its first currency war from 1921 to 1936, when the end of World War I brought massive war reparations for Germany (who “turned their currency to litter,” he says). The period of 1967-1987 marked another currency war, as the U.S. abandoned the gold standard and entered into a debt crisis shortly after.

Rickards argues that the world is currently facing its third currency war. He puts the problem simply: “Too much debt, not enough growth.” Drawing from the Keynesian formula (consumption + investment + government spending + exports — imports = gross domestic product), Rickards explains that “government spending is not the engine it once was,” primarily due to the massive devaluation of currency.

He offers four potential outcomes for the current crisis: multiple reserve currencies, a new currency called SDR controlled by a central bank, a return to the gold standard and lastly, chaos.

“The Fed thinks they’re playing with a thermostat when it comes to the economy,” Rickards says. “When it gets a little warm, they make small tweaks to “fix’ the problem … they need to realize they’re really playing with a nuclear reactor. One wrong tweak and the planet will be melting.”

Finance major Travis Crawford ’13 says, “Rickards brought to light aspects of the financial world that are rarely looked upon.” He adds that Rickards’ lecture “presented interesting aspects and valuable insight of currency devaluation and how it affects the current financial situation.”

Categories: Executive Speakers

A pair of Mays Business School graduates have made a $100,000 gift through the foundation they created named the II Corinthians 9:7 Foundation. Accordingly, the donation will fund the “II Corinthians 9:7 Foundation Business Honors Scholarship.”

The organizers of the donor foundation, Jarrett ’93 and Tracy Anderson ’92, live in Austin. Tracy graduated with an accounting degree while Jarrett graduated with a degree in business management. Jarrett subsequently also graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1996.

The couple has previously funded a separate endowed Presidential Scholarship at Texas A&M.

Jarrett explains the pair created the foundation to benefit others because “we acknowledge our blessings and appreciate that our success is not derived exclusively from our efforts.” He noted the impact and importance of Texas A&M in preparing him and Tracy to achieve such successes. The scripture referenced in the name of the donor foundation states, “(e)ach of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Jarrett stated that he and Tracy are honored to be able to give back to Mays Business School and support its efforts to attract highly-sought-after students.

As administrators of the donor foundation, the Andersons look forward to meeting future recipients of the scholarship.

“The Andersons’ gift is truly one from the heart and reflects their foundation’s name and mission,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “I can only wish that the students who are fortunate enough to benefit from their generosity reflect upon the message in II Corinthians 9:7 as they live their lives and assist others.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students, Programs

Susan Conn McCurry honored her father by donating $100,000 to Mays Business School to establish the Susan Conn McCurry Business Honors Scholarship Fund.

The Beaumont native graduated from Lamar University, but she holds Texas A&M University — particularly Mays Business School — in high regard because of her father’s allegiance to the school. C.W. Conn served on university advisory councils and held the position of professor and lecturer at several universities, including Texas A&M, Lamar, University of Houston and the University of Notre Dame. He received numerous awards and honors for his civic and philanthropic endeavors.

Susan Conn McCurry and her husband, Roger.
Susan Conn McCurry and her husband, Roger.

McCurry says she wanted to direct her gift to “wherever the need was” at Mays. “I know that’s what my dad wanted me to do because he loved Texas A&M so much,” she says. “I do, too. It is just a wonderful school.”

She says her father’s involvement with Texas A&M has lived on through his children and grandchildren. “It was a very mutually beneficial arrangement, and we wanted to see it continue. We’ve been very pleased with the university and the relationship our family has had with it.”

McCurry owns Terra Bella Stables in Beaumont with her husband Roger. Their son Steven attends Texas A&M, while daughter Camille attends Lamar.

“Susan’s generous contribution to our school epitomizes her and her father’s love for Texas A&M University and our students,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Her generosity will provide our Business Honors students the opportunity to be part of a very special learning experience at Mays Business School.”

C.W. Conn, the previous owner and former president of Conn Appliances and chairman of Conn Development Corporation, valued enterprising business leaders. He and his wife Dorothy established the Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award to recognize outstanding business leaders who have achieved extraordinary success. The award honors a business leader that has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of a successful new venture — either a start-up or an entrepreneurial effort within an existing company. They also created the Carroll and Dorothy Anne Conn Business Honors Scholarship.

Categories: Donors Corner