May, 2019 | Mays Impacts

Mark D. Taylor ’83, Peter H. Currie ’85, and Wayne Roberts ’85 were honored as recipients of Mays Business School’s 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards. The trio was recognized during an April 25 awards dinner attended by many of Mays Business School’s leading former students, faculty, current students and supporters.

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes former students who display transformational leadership in their profession and community as well as their service to Mays Business School. Honorees embody the Aggie core values of loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, selfless service, and respect. “Each year we honor our graduates who exemplify the Aggie Core Values and who have lived their lives with distinction with the Mays Outstanding Alumni Awards,” said Dean Eli Jones ’82. “Recipients come from all industries and have been active in their communities. They continue to serve our alma mater through giving their time, their talents, and their finances to help raise the reputation of Mays Business School and Texas A&M. We are truly grateful for their contributions.”

A leading lawyer

Mark D. Taylor ’83, a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Dallas office, is thankful for the quality of education that he received at Mays Business School. After graduating from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance with Honors in 1983, Taylor earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Texas Tech in 1986.

Those degrees prepared him for a successful law career at the leading international law firm of Baker McKenzie. Taylor’s practice focuses on the defense of class actions, collective actions, and multi-district litigation cases. His areas of expertise include commercial litigation, trade secret litigation, post-M&A disputes and employment-related litigation. During his career, Taylor has argued or tried lawsuits before state and federal courts in more than 25 states. His Partners elected him Chair of the Firm’s North America Litigation & Government Enforcement Practice Group from 2013 to 2018.

Taylor’s service to Mays Business School extends across many areas. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and a regular guest speaker for Mays classes and groups. In addition, Mark and his wife, Christine, created the Mark D. Taylor ’83 and Christine D. Taylor Business Honors Scholarship fund, which provides an annual award to high-performing Business Honors Program students. “I really believe that students who are talented enough to go to Texas A&M but who don’t have the resources should be able to go,” Taylor said. “If we can help a little bit toward that, I think that’s very important. That motivates me to give back to both the school and to the students who are deserving and who could benefit, like we did, from Texas A&M and the education that we received.”

Energy, investments, and Traditions

Peter H. Currie ’85 credits Mays Business School for instilling foundational business principles that have guided his professional success. After graduating from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management, Currie focused his professional career on the energy and investment industry. He was co-founder and managing member of CIMA ENERGY, LTD., an initial investor and director of Patriot Bank in Houston, TX, a director of Municipal Energy Resources Corporation, and an executive vice president of Huddleston & Co. Additionally, Currie represented the group of developers that acquired Traditions Club and Traditions Community in Bryan/College Station in 2009.

Currie presently is CEO of CenTree Ventures, LLC and Posse Resources, LLC, which manage oil and gas joint venture and partnership interests in nearly 3,000 producing properties and minerals covering 300,000 acres throughout the U.S. Currie also is CEO of Continental Operating Company, which operates oil and gas properties in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Additionally, he manages more than $100 million in assets in numerous private investment partnerships and company retirement funds.

Currie remains very active at Mays Business School, having served on the Dean’s Advisory Board since 2008. Currie and his wife created a $1 million endowment in 2007 that supports the Lisa Huddleston Currie ’85 and Peter H. Currie ’85 Chair in Business. They also established the Lisa Huddleston Currie ’85 and Peter H. Currie ’85 Chair in Business through a $3 million gift in 2017. “Today’s students have the opportunity to learn the same business principles, have the same drive, and experience the same spirit of Aggieland,” Currie said. “I think it’s very important to bring those young men and women into the workforce in the state of Texas and beyond.”

A servant leader

For Wayne Roberts ’85, the core values and mission of Texas A&M are what attracted him as a prospective student and continue to resonate today. His service to the university began as a student where he held numerous leadership positions in campus organizations and was the recipient of the Buck Weirus Spirit Award. That involvement and selfless service has only grown since graduation and he continues to give back to his alma mater through a variety of ways, most notably at the Mays Business School and the 12thMan Foundation, where he serves on the Boards of each organization.

Roberts, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Analysis and a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M, is currently President and Chief Executive Officer at Abrigo, Inc., the leading provider of solutions that manage risk and drive growth for America’s community financial institutions. A strong mentor and coach, he has successfully built or transformed numerous high growth teams and companies throughout his career while establishing employee-centric cultures that deliver great results.

A regular guest speaker at Mays events, Roberts also serves as the co-chair of the Student Recruitment and Career Development Committee on the Dean’s Advisory Board. Roberts and his wife created the Shannon ’86 and Wayne Roberts ’85 Excellence Endowment, the largest planned gift in the history of the Mays Business School. They have also established a Mays Business Honors Scholarship and continue to give their time, energy and resources to support all things Aggie related. “Texas A&M and the Mays Business School are special. What motivates me is the pursuit of greatness, giving back, leaving a legacy, and serving others,” Roberts said. “So, it is an easy decision to support something that has made such a positive difference in our lives and will continue to do so for future generations of Aggies.”

 

Categories: Former Students

The feeling never gets old, Kyle Gammenthaler says.

Helping Mays Business School students understand the nuts and bolts of philanthropy by giving away up to $75,000 themselves is always thrilling.

Kyle, who teaches the Strategic Philanthropy class as coordinator of the Certificate in Nonprofit and Social Innovation at Mays, told a crowd of about eighty who gathered for the semester’s check presentations on April 29 that it all started in 2015, when he had “a brilliant idea—that it would be great if students gave away money in a class.”

And this spring, the course’s students, funding recipients, and donors celebrated a huge milestone—passing the $500,000 mark in total giving to organizations in Bryan-College Station.

From $0 to $500,000 in Three Years

With support from Mays administration and generous donors—notably The Philanthropy Lab, a Fort-Worth-area organization that supports about twenty such classes around the country—students provided the first round of funding in spring 2016.

Now, thanks to additional donors, notably the VanLoh family and Cheryl Mellenthin, the class is one of the most successful of its kind in the country.

The VanLohs began donating after seeing the transformational experience their daughter, business honors graduate Grace VanLoh ’19, had as a student in the very first class.

For Cheryl Mellenthin, visiting with Mays students on a Philanthropy Friday was all it took.

“She texted me that night and asked, ‘Where do I send the check?’” Kyle says.

John Sharp ’72, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, attended the April 29 celebration and later said, “The Mays Business School’s philanthropy program is a great example of putting the Aggie values to work.”

Former Student Body President Amy Sharp ’19, a business honors graduate who took the class previously, announced at the event that the two representatives present from The Philanthropy Lab—both Aggies—had decided to give an additional $10,000 in honor of Chancellor Sharp’s visit.

“This has to be the easiest $10,000 Chancellor Sharp ever gave!” she said.

Student-Driven Impact in the Brazos Valley

The eighteen students in the May 2019 class funded eight organizations.

Marketing major and class member Shelby Edwards ’19 says a Charles Dickens quote inspired her to sign up: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

But for Shelby, the class proved to be life-changing.

“I know that what I learned about working with others to make decisions and about how I can make a real impact, even as a younger person, will influence me not only in my profession, but in my personal life, as well,” she says.

The class started the semester by learning about philanthropy and how nonprofits work in general, with a focus on strategic giving and the “why” behind charitable giving.

They crafted their own mission statement as the “why” to guide their decisions: “to thoughtfully invest in nonprofits in the Brazos Valley to move toward their visions and build better communities.”

Next, they chose ten nonprofits for closer review and broke into smaller groups to visit two organizations each. They then shared what they learned with the others and used their strategic approach to make the final decisions on which organizations to fund.

“Giving the money away was an absolute joy,” Shelby says. “The nonprofits showed us gaps in our community that we had not seen before. We were amazed at what they do to make life better for people here.

“My takeaway is that we all have the ability to give money, or time, or effort, not ‘one day,’ but right now, even if we are young and just starting out. We are a generation that can make a difference!”

A Simple but Life-Changing Idea

Business honors Jimmie Fields ’21 explained the powerful concept that inspired the class to fund OnRamp.

“Entrepreneurship is about finding the main pressure point and exploiting it,” he says. “The Jennings family has done just this in the Bryan-College Station area by giving reliable, pre-owned cars to people in need.”

The class gave $11,000 to cover the cost of two cars. OnRamp has provided 23 cars since the organization was founded about eighteen months ago. Other local charities refer clients to the Jennings family for consideration.

“As a pastor at a local church, I meet a lot of single moms who are near poverty and who cannot afford reliable transportation,” Blake Jennings says. “As a result, they find it hard to hold down a job, hard to get their kids to school, and hard to get to doctors’ appointments. My wife and I wanted to do something about it—to serve others just as we encourage our congregation to serve others.”

The Transformational Effect of Mays Philanthropy

Students are transformed by the class in many ways.

For example, Mays graduate Zach Marbach ’17, who took the inaugural class in spring 2016, is now an Associate Program Director with The Philanthropy Lab, as is fellow Aggie Megan Mader ’12. In addition, other students have joined the boards of the nonprofits represented or otherwise made charitable giving a priority in their lives.

“We are incredibly grateful to all who entrust our students to make life-changing decisions with their money,” Kyle Gammenthaler says. “Our next goal: to pass the one-million-dollar mark.”

In addition to OnRamp, the following local charities received funding this semester:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network
  • Health For All
  • Scotty’s House
  • Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • United Way of the Brazos Valley
  • VOOM Foundation

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Students, Texas A&M

On April 24, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and former students packed Wehner lobby for James Benjamin Day. Energy and excitement pulsed through the room, as attendees wearing t-shirts and stickers that showed “I heart James Benjamin” filed into the lobby.

The event was standing room only as participants waited eagerly from the balcony, lined the stairs, and filled the elevator banks for the celebration to begin.

Dean Jones began the celebration by welcoming students, faculty and staff, and the accounting advisory board to the special event. Among his numerous high praises for Benjamin, Dean Jones declared that Benjamin epitomized the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. Dean Jones also shared that at the beginning of the naming campaign, naysayers told them, “Crowdsourcing won’t work.” However, the campaign ultimately proved otherwise and raised over $10 million for the department. Dean Jones added that Benjamin has served Texas A&M and Mays Business School for 45 years as faculty, and 37 years as the accounting department head. Benjamin positively impacted countless students’ lives and set an example of excellence during his time at the university.

Brian Bishop, the Assistant Vice President of Development at Mays Business School, delivered some words of affirmation and praise for Benjamin. Bishop stated that to have a department named after an individual, “40 years of service and $10 million raised” would be a fantastic place to start. Bishop continued in his praise for Benjamin, describing him as an “excellent human being and an educator.” Bishop encouraged the current students attending the celebration to look around the room and appreciate the accomplishments of those before them. He then instructed each student to ask themselves, “How can I give back, and how can I make my degree more valuable?”

Christy Bauman ’95 took the stage to share her thoughts, insights, and appreciation for Benjamin. Bauman was a member of the third group of PPA students and explained that raising money for the department was, “One of the easiest things to ask for because of Jim and who he is as an individual.”

Professor Mary Lea McAnally then joined the excitement by kicking off a round-robin share out about the magnitude during Benjamin’s tenure in a segment titled, “James Benjamin by the Numbers.”

  • $35,700,000 raised
  • 4,617,600 minutes worked, $8 per minute of funds raised
  • 17,102 students graduated
  • 5,008 PPA graduates
  • 15 former students now serving as professors at Mays
  • 2,113 Business Honors graduates during his tenure
  • 1998 – Outstanding Professor of the Year from Texas A&M
  • 1992 – Benjamin began the PPA program
  • 1968 – Benjamin earned his CPA, in Maryland, with the second highest score in the state
  • 1600 companies employ his graduates
  • 960 business honors students in his Accounting 229 course
  • 314 publications by Ph.D. graduates
  • 258 graduates who are partners at CPA firms
  • Accounting 229 – countless students have taken Benjamin’s course
  • 199 – the average number of words in a paragraph in an email from Benjamin
  • 158 Ph.D. graduates since Benjamin
  • 61 computers in KPMG lab on cutting edge of technology
  • 42 years in the Department of Accounting
  • 37 years as department head
    • Budgeting
    • Hiring
    • Year-end reviews
  • 8 accounting faculty have become administrators at Mays
  • 5 deans Benjamin has served under
  • 40 years ago – James Benjamin was Strawser’s professor
  • 3 PPA Directors reported to Benjamin during his tenure

Finally, Benjamin took the opportunity to share his thoughts and appreciation for the celebration. He said that one of the most rewarding aspects of his career has been watching students he once taught reach retirement. In humility, he added that though he may be the face of the accounting department, there are four necessary ingredients to his success:

  1. Exceptional students
  2. Deeply caring faculty built to mirror students
  3. Leaders – he has been at the business school under five deans, and never had a bad boss in his life
  4. Incredibly supportive former students

In a nod to his engaging demeanor, Benjamin expressed that he thinks it is fitting that the accounting department will now share the nickname for 100 dollar bills.

 

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Departments, Faculty, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Texas A&M