The Robert C. Jeffrey College Benefactor Awards
In 2006, Roderick P. Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, established the Robert C. Jeffrey Benefactor Awards to honor both Bob Jeffrey, the third dean of the college, and individuals who have given generously to the college with their time or resources.
Dr. Jeffrey served as dean of the Moody College of Communication from 1979 to 1993. During his tenure, he hired many of the college's best and brightest faculty members and helped build the college's endowment. He is remembered by many as a person of extraordinary warmth and commitment, and a person of irresistible charm. He is best known, however, as one of the finest ambassadors the Moody College has ever had. He died in April 2000.
Each fall, up to five Robert C. Jeffrey Benefactor Awards are given to some of the Moody College of Communication's special friends and supporters who have gone out of their way to share their time, labor, advice, or their treasure with the Moody College.
The award recipients are honored at a "Friends of the Moody College" dinner and given a carved granite statuette as a token of appreciation.
Recipients by Year:
Our College has three types of great supporters: Category One includes those who do what we ask; Category Two has those who give us advice; and Category Three includes those who give us advice every waking moment of every freaking day! There is only one person in Category Three and his name is Cappy McGarr. Fortunately, he also gives us money.
Cappy received three degrees from UT, including one from our college. While on campus, he was vice-president of the student body and did a stint at K-N-O-W radio.
Cappy is occasionally boring, but that only happens when he’s earning a living. Professionally, he has spent his time in the private equity business, where he is president of MCM Interests and a managing partner of U.S. Renewal Energy Group. Mostly, though, Cappy is a citizen. He has served on boards for the National Archives in Washington as well as the Kennedy Center. He is a member of the LBJ Foundation, has chaired UT’s development board, and was a pivotal member of the Commission of 125, which set the University’s course for many years to come.
Primarily, though, Cappy is one of ours. He helped us start the Texas Program in Sports and Media as well as the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. The annual McGarr Symposium in Sports Journalism bears his name, as does "Cappy's Place," the coffee shop in the Belo Center for New Media.
But let’s get back to the advice. I hate to admit it, but I like hearing from the guy for one simple reason: His advice always comes packaged with love. When Cappy McGarr is your friend, you get him 52/12/24/7. How lucky we are he was born. Mr. Cappy McGarr.
At the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Ann Richards said that women were more than capable of working in politics, remarking that "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." The same is true for Anne Reed. As executive assistant to the dean, she does everything the dean does—she just does it backwards and in Birkenstocks.
And she does it with grace and style except, of course, when she’s using a blowtorch on someone. Nonetheless, she’s our Universal Ambassador to students, faculty, guests, and campus officials. As overseer of the Dean’s office, Anne ensures that all visitors are met with friendship and professionalism.
One of Anne’s duties is overseeing promotions, a job she takes to heart, knowing that a faculty member’s career may well hang in the balance. Anne pours her soul into that work, meeting for hours with promotion candidates to get the documents correct. She often wakes up at night worrying about the people being reviewed. Anne is the faculty’s archangel, whether they know it or not.
Anne doesn’t have a job, she has a profession. She is the College’s chief guardian, its chief worrier, its chief warrior. She is part administrator, part psychologist, part social worker. She works for a demanding, control-freak of a boss but somehow she stays serene.
When the dean is alone with the Provost, Anne is with him. When the dean is a thousand miles away, Anne is with him. When someone in the College is having a hard time, Anne is with them. When Anne is with her family at home, she is still at work. When visiting her family in Michigan, she is still in Austin. Yes, this isn’t right; it isn’t fair; it isn’t healthy. But it is Anne.
Anne came to the Moody College in 1994 and has now amassed over 30 years of service to the University. I shall be forever grateful to my predecessor, Ellen Wartella, for hiring her. Ellen and I are not alike in most ways, but when it comes to believing in Anne, we are twins. It is my pleasure to present to you, Ms. Anne Reed.
I used to think that my biggest problem as dean was having no money and no space, but then I discovered a bigger problem: Having money but no plan! Then Severine Halls walked into my life and the College was born anew.
The date was March 5, 2008, the day when Janice Daman and I met for the first time with the team charged with planning the Belo Center and, later, with refurbishing the Jesse Jones Complex. Since that time, many people have come and gone from the team but Severine is still with us. God bless Texas for that!
The first thing I noticed (but frankly was not expecting) was that Severine Halls has a wicked sense of humor. Oh, she covers it up well with U.T. System-speak and architectural mumbo jumbo but there's always that evil gleam in her eye. "This is someone I'm going to like working with," I later remarked to Janice.
My prediction came true. As a senior project manager for UT System, Severine uses her broad understanding to tackle large capital projects. With 30 years of experience, she now knows everything about building design, landscaping, contractors, warranties, planning, budgets, negotiations, and team unity.
Severine's most outstanding attribute, though, may be her patience. When we began the Belo project, we had only 75% of the money we needed but Severine kept planning. We had none of the money we needed for Phase One of the Jesse Jones project but Severine kept planning. We also had none of the money we needed for Phase Two of the Jones project but Severine kept planning once again. She wasn’t always smiling when doing all of this planning but she never lost sight of the big picture. And the evil gleam in her eye never receded.
Over the last seven years, Severine has become our College’s handmaiden. She has gotten to know us and we her. We have come to appreciate her sharp intellect as well as her layered political skills. When you first meet Severine, you’re led to believe she is unflappable. That’s mostly true. But, personally, I like Severine best when she flaps. I give you the inimitable Severine Halls.
Most of us like to think we’re in charge of life. It turns out, of course, that life is often in charge of us. A good example of that is John Fleming. When finishing his undergraduate degree in 1977, John figured he’d go to graduate school and then embark on a career in academia. One of his professors, Dr. Jack Whitehead, had particularly inspired him, so he thought he'd follow in his footsteps.
'Twas not to be. A recruiter for a telecomm company visited one of John's classes and, just like that, John’s world changed forever. This new, dynamic industry was looking for energetic young people and, suddenly, John’s college course in Sales and Briefings took on a new life. "I can do this. This is me," John thought, and so a new John Fleming was born. Therein lies the magic of a college education.
In a way, John's career traces the growth of the telecommunications industry itself. He began working in sales management at IBM and MCI but then became involved with IXC, a digital broadband company. While there, John oversaw sales and marketing, eventually becoming president of IXC's international subsidiaries in Latin America and London. Today, he is principal of Vision Corporation, a company he founded that makes early-stage investments in communications technologies and services.
But John never forgot where he came from. For the last several years, he has been chair of our Advisory Council and one of our most vigorous advocates both on campus and off. He also made an especially generous gift to us, resulting in the John R. Fleming Lecture Hall, prominently located on the first floor of the Belo Center.
Speaking personally, I well-remember that John was one of the first persons to reach out to me when I became dean of the College and he has been at my side ever since. John is a man of strong passions, strong convictions. He often says "Don't get me started!" and then, of course, he gets himself started and you can’t shut him up! That's because he’s still a communication major, one whose instinct is to speak out. Hence, he is one of our own. I present to you, Mr. John Fleming.
Sometimes you meet students who are as wise as they are smart. Even though they’re only 20 years of age, you can talk to them as equals, trust them implicitly, and even ask their advice. Marsha Jones was that kind of student. She is now that kind of woman.
Intelligence, depth, maturity, trust—especially trust. Add a teaspoon of passion and a tablespoon of integrity and you get one of the most respected lobbyists in all of Texas. Marsha sees her Legislative work as the cornerstone of democracy. Representing HillCo Partners, she has lobbied in behalf of healthcare policy, arts and entertainment, education, finance, and even the Dallas Cowboys.
It is said that people without political interest have no interests at all. It is also said that lobbyists are allowed to lie once as long as they no longer want to be lobbyists. Marsha understood all of that when she was a student at U.T. Today, whenever I ask someone if they know Marsha, the first—and last—thing they talk about is her integrity.
Marsha got her first internship at the Capital when she was in high school. She continued such work during her time at U.T. but still found time to be in the Senior Fellows honors program. After graduating with her B.A., she immediately found a career in political advocacy.
Marsha and her husband Robert have been consistently generous to our College and have done so as quietly as possible. It was harder to get their permission to put their names on a room than to get the required money from them. If we had asked Marsha to let us name another of her gifts "the Anonymous Endowed Presidential Scholarship," she would have agreed in a heartbeat. We didn’t ask her.
An ideal donor gives both time and treasure. Marsha is currently on the Moody College Advisory Council and, before that, on the board of the Annette Strauss Institute. The Provost recently asked her to serve on a high-level university committee as well.
If given enough time, I might be able to find a flaw in Marsha. No, I take that back; I hate wasting my time. I give you, Ms. Marsha Jones.