Texas entrepreneur and businessman Red McCombs and his wife Charline will be honored at a gala on May 13 in recognition of his transformational gift to the school that now bears his name, McCombs School of Business.
The event will be held at the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center, a building McCombs was instrumental in getting funded.
"This isn't just a thank you," said Thomas W. Gilligan, dean of the business school, "but also a chance to reflect on how business education has impacted the lives of thousands of Texas students, because Red McCombs envisioned the potential for something truly world-class at The University of Texas at Austin."
Many of those directly benefiting from that vision are student scholars such as Jessica Burch, an accounting student who received the Marquis G. Eaton Scholarship.
"Coming from a humble background, my mother a high school teacher and my father a sheriff's officer, my scholarship allowed me to achieve an education far beyond what my family was able to finance," she said.
The McCombs gift encourages the formation of scholarships at the school by matching the funds from other donors. As a result, more than 400 scholarships have been awarded to McCombs students in the last seven years. These challenge grants have also been used to hire top-tier faculty members, allowing the school to advance academic research (the school is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity), while also reducing the size of classes.
"Red McCombs has maximized the value of his relationship to the university at every possible opportunity," Gilligan said. "The perfect example is the role he played in enabling the construction of the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center. He not only supported the project with his own gift, but also personally worked to secure the ATandT involvement."
The ATandT Center is a state-of-the-art learning facility that hosts conferences, executive classes, corporate training and other academic outreach activities in pursuit of the University's mission.
"For the McCombs School of Business to be in the top 10, it is critical to have a facility of this nature," said John McStay, a Dallas business leader and member of the McCombs Advisory Council.
"At the time he pledged his gift, I remarked that Red was a dream donor, and he still is," said Bob May, dean of the business school when the McCombs gift was received. "His name rolls off the tongues of our students with such pride, and they bask in the recognition it has brought their school. We are blessed with one of the greatest patrons in higher education."
Speakers at the gala will include Don Evans, non-executive chairman of Energy Future Holdings Corp., Herb Kelleher, chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines, and Tex Moncrief, president of Moncrief Oil. Attendees are supporting the effort to raise $500,000 to create a 40 Acres Scholarship in Red McCombs' name.