Confetti Cannons and Countdowns: Campus Celebrates Historic Alumni Gifts
Oct. 7, 2011
Orange, green and white confetti shot into the air as UT Dallas students unveiled a marker reading “Naveen Jindal School of Management” at the celebration on Friday.
Standing ovations, confetti cannons and countdowns to two big reveals were part of Friday’s announcement of the naming the School of Management and its honors program in recognition of the two largest alumni gifts in UT Dallas history.
A crowd of 500—including students, faculty, staff, alumni, a UT System Regent, federal and local government officials—assembled about 10 a.m. at a balloon-festooned stage just outside the school, at The Circle at the end of University Parkway.
They cheered and applauded remarks by Naveen Jindal about his namesake school.
“It is truly humbling and overwhelming to be receiving this tremendous honor from the University that helped me so much,” said Naveen Jindal, chairman of Jindal Steel & Power Limited, who traveled from India for the ceremony. “I have so many fond memories from the time I spent here, my experiences, the people … who have helped me and shaped me into the person I am.”
Chuck and Nancy Davidson, management graduates of 1980, said their gift, which will be commemorated in the naming of the Charles and Nancy Davidson Management Honors Program, was about inspiring others to give.
Chuck Davidson MS’80 and Nancy Davidson BS’80 said they made their generous gift to the University because of the positive experiences they had as students.
“It was our hope and our dream that one day it will be the alumni that will be leading the charge to drive the growth in this great University, and that’s what is so inspiring to me about today,” said Mr. Davidson, the CEO of Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. “It’s all about alumni reaching back, helping the school that clearly created opportunities and opened doors for all of us.”
Nancy Davidson BS’80, and Charles Davidson met Mr. Jindal for the first time just before the ceremony.
“What brought these alumni together from another city in Texas and a faraway country is their shared commitment to propelling the UT Dallas School of Management to the very top ranks of business schools nationally and around the world,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “To achieve that goal, they are making the two largest alumni gifts ever in the history of UT Dallas.”
Orange, green and white confetti shot into the air as UT Dallas students unveiled a marker reading, “Naveen Jindal School of Management.” The event was capped off with the unfurling of a banner hoisted atop of the building that read, “Two Alumni Gifts. One Historic Moment. Thank You.”
Dr. David E. Daniel and Naveen Jindal
Brisk winds created a welcome breeze, sending the confetti fluttering over the heads of the the assembled group and threatening at times to force impromptu extemporization. “If my notes blow away, this presentation may be much shorter,” joked President David E. Daniel.
“It was a great ceremony – to have this cultural exchange between India and the U.S. taking place at UT Dallas improves educational opportunities,” said Prateek Gupta, an MBA student from India who was among the crowd.
The gifts were announced in tandem with a $20 million funding program approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents that will allow a 100,000-gross-square-foot addition to the School of Management building.
Jindal’s contribution, which is matched by $5 million from the UT System Board of Regents’ Research Incentive Program and the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), will be used to create new endowed chairs and establish the Naveen Jindal Institute for Indo-American Business Studies.
Brenda Pejovich, a member of the UT System Board of Regents, credited the Davidsons and Jindal with helping transform the University.
The Davidsons’ gift will support graduate students in business management by providing endowed fellowships and will support faculty by boosting funding for chaired positions.
The Naveen Jindal School of Management’s full-time and professional MBA programs are ranked in the top 40 by U.S. News and World Report. The executive MBA program is ranked 22nd, and the professional MBA program is ranked 24th in the world by Business Week.
“The gifts we receive today will help solidify our position among the top 50 business schools in the world,” said Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Dean and Caruth Chair of Management. “But more importantly, these gifts will make it possible for us to continue innovating and leading as a model school that combines highest quality education with world class scholarship.”
Naveen Jindal and Dr. Hasan Pirkul
Brenda Pejovich, a member of the UT System Board of Regents who attended the event, said the Board’s priority in this global economy is that the UT system and its institutions create excellence and models in the areas of education, research, best practices, principles and values. She said UT Dallas “just shines in this respect.”
Also in attendance were elected officials including U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, Richardson Mayor Bob Townsend, Richardson City Council members Amir Omar and Kendal Hartley, Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop and Plano Mayor Phil Dyer. Sanjiv Arora, consul general of India who is based in Houston, also spoke.
— Story by Marissa Alanis and Chaz Lilly
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