TU’s Friends of Finance Offers Top Speakers

Business Writer

BUSINESS DIALOGUE: Representatives of the University of Tulsa’s Friends of Finance gathered with Douglas McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart International, after his talk to the group in September. From left are TU President Dr. Steadman Upham, Senior Vice-President of MidFirst Bank Jim Holloman, McMillon and FOF co-founder and TU Professor of Finance Dr. Roger Bey.

University of Tulsa finance graduates Bob Prince, Bruce Currie and Bob Harrison, and TU faculty members Mark Collins and Roger Bey met in the early 1980s to discuss ways the university’s finance department could improve alumni and community relations. “At that point, there was no connection with either group,” says Bey. “We formed TU’s Friends of Finance organization to bridge that gap, but had no idea where it would lead.” Since then, Friends of Finance has evolved into the most significant business discussion series in the region.

Upcoming executive speaker series presenters include William Brodsky, chairman and of the Chicago Board Options Exchange; J. Clifford Hudson, chairman and of Sonic Corporation; David Lamp, president of Holly Corporation; Herman Bulls, of public institutions at Jones Lang LaSalle; and Sean Connolly, president of Campbell Soup Company.

Friends of Finance speaker series topics are not necessarily financial in orientation. “We have a wide range of speakers, and they talk more strategy than finance,” says Dr. Bey, finance professor and chair of finance and operations management at The University of Tulsa. “The speaker series appeals to multiple industries. Our audience includes lawyers, medical and manufacturing professionals to name a few.”

Speaker series attendees have the opportunity to learn from top business executives throughout the United States. “It’s really good for people to hear high caliber industry leaders explain their strategies and ideas firsthand,” says Bey. “You usually don’t hear and learn these things on a daily basis.”

Previous executive speaker series presenters have included renown leaders John Wooden, Coach Emeritus of ; Diana Ferguson, senior vice president of Sara Lee Corporation; Jamie Dimon, chairman and of BankOne; and Donald Humphreys, senior vice president of ExxonMobil Corporation.

The speaker series luncheons were originally held off campus, and at one point averaged only 15 people per month. The turning point came in the spring of 1992 when then president of Wal-Mart David Glass came to speak. “He generated a lot of interest and drew a big crowd,” Bey says. “From then on we began thinking in terms of national speakers and the program really began to grow.” The speaker series now averages more than 400 attendees each month.

Bey networks nonstop with people to ensure Friends of Finance is able to schedule premier speakers. “It’s the key to our success. I keep in touch with a lot of people; I am always building the speaker list,” he says. “I pay close attention when I read magazines like Forbes and Fortune. Every person is a potential speaker.”

Student Involvement
In addition to the executive speaker series, the Friends of Finance organization works to support the university’s finance program. An annual fund drive raises in excess of $200,000 per year and goes toward a student investment fund managed by TU students. “Managing a $1.9 million portfolio helps them gain real-world experience,” says Bey. “They are doing the same thing the trust department and Fidelity Investments do, just on a smaller scale.”

Students analyze markets, research securities, render buy and sell decisions and perform other functions under an investment-firm model. Earnings from the endowment are used for student scholarships. To date, $550,000 in scholarships has been awarded.

TU’s Friends of Finance executive speaker series luncheons are open to the public. Visit https://bus.collins.utulsa.edu.fof or call 918-631-2588 for details.

Updated 01-19-2011

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