The University Record, January 7, 1997

$10 million gift will fund Business School's Wyly Hall

By Keith Decie
Business School


One of America's most successful entrepreneurs has made a $10 million gift to go toward the construction of a new building for the Business School. The gift, from Dallas-based entrepreneur, investor and Michigan M.B.A. Sam Wyly, is the largest-ever for the School's facilities and is one of the two largest gifts ever made to the Business School.

Wyly's gift will cover half of the total anticipated cost of the new building. The School is working to raise the balance of the funds needed to start the project. The building will include new classroom and faculty office space, help accommodate the School's growing Executive Education enterprise, and provide a headquarters for the School's William Davidson Institute. A request from the Business School to name the building for Wyly was approved by the Regents last month.

"It is rare---in fact, unprecedented at the School---to get so far toward meeting a major facilities need with a single gift," said Business School Dean B. Joseph White. "This is a tremendously generous gift and it comes to us at an important moment in the School's history. It's a gift that will truly make a difference and I'm deeply grateful to Sam for the commitment and for helping fuel even greater success for the School."

Wyly received an M.B.A. degree from the U-M Business School in 1957. He was personally recruited to attend Michigan by legendary accounting professor William Paton. Paton, who taught at Michigan from 1917 to 1959, also personally selected Wyly to receive the first Paton Scholarship. Paton was a pioneer in developing modern accounting theory and practice, and was a major reason for the Business School's early rise to prominence. He and Wyly met following a lecture Prof. Paton gave at Louisiana Tech, where Wyly was an undergraduate. The recruiting effort began on the spot.

"I'm grateful for the education Michigan gave me and specifically for the Paton Scholarship that made it possible for me to get an M.B.A.," said Wyly. "For me, the gift is an expression of gratitude."

Wyly was called "one of the most---if not the most successful post-war entrepreneurs" by Fortune magazine senior editor Gene Bylinski. After his graduation from Michigan in 1957, Wyly worked for five years at IBM and Honeywell. He was a contemporary of Ross Perot at IBM and, like Perot, struck out on his own in the computer business. Wyly founded University Computing Company (UCC) in 1963, which went public in 1965 and earned its investors a 100:1 return in the next four years. He has since been a highly successful investor and the founder of several other public companies. He is currently governing stockholder and managing director of Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce, Maverick Capital, and Michaels Stores, all based in Dallas.

The Business School boasts an undergraduate program ranked first in the country by U.S. News & World Report, an M.B.A. program ranked second in the bi-annual Business Week rankings, and an Executive Education program that has the largest market share of any business school in the world. The addition of new faculty and programs has created new space and other facilities needs.

"I've been planning to do something for the Business School for a while," said Wyly. "With the School's programs ranked so highly, this is a good time. I like being part of and contributing to the whole story of the School's excellence and to help it continue. And I'm pleased with the outstanding leadership of Dean White."

"One of the reasons we've been able to build success upon success is that my predecessors have kept ahead of the curve in modernizing and expanding the School's facilities," said White. "Sam Wyly's generous gift is a major leap toward having the facilities we need to keep the School at the leading edge of management education. I'm honored to have Sam Wyly as a partner in our success."

Work under way to match funding
Sam Wyly's gift of $10 million, one of the two largest in the Business School's history and the largest ever for facilities, is a major step toward the realization of the U-M Business School's facilities expansion plans. Work to secure the additional $10 million needed to meet the total price tag of the structure is under way.

Sam Wyly Hall will house classrooms and expanded space for the School's Executive Education Center, facilities used by both the Business School and the University at large. The building will allow the creation of new offices for the School's growing faculty. It will also provide a new headquarters for the School's William Davidson Institute, which has grown considerably both in size and stature since its 1991 founding.

Sam Wyly Hall will be located at the corner of East University and Hill streets, next to the existing Executive Education Center. Many Executive Education needs will be accommodated in the new structure and 16 hotel-style rooms for executive education participants in the existing building will be converted to faculty offices. Those guest rooms will be replaced in the new building with larger rooms, more suitable for stays during long-term programs not anticipated when the current Center was designed. The new building will create a net increase of 35 guest rooms, which will help accommodate the more than 4,000 executive education participants who come to the Business School each year.