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50 Great Moments in NAC History

The National Advisory Council (NAC) is commemorating fifty golden years of helping the BYU Marriott School of Management shine. During this time, NAC members have provided wise vision for the school, generously funded programs, selflessly mentored students, and even made personal sacrifices to keep the school from closing its doors. To join in the jubilee, we’ve compiled this tribute of fifty facts, stories, and memories of the contributions NAC members have made to place the Marriott School at the top and extend the influence of BYU worldwide.

Inside of the Tanner Building filled with members of the NAC

1. The Greatest Legacy

“I think the greatest legacy of the nac is the thousands of men and women who have graduated from the Marriott School over the last fifty years and have been influenced in many different ways by the nac. . . . [It] is the example that we [are] able to set for the students—to be in the world but not too much of the world—and to [help them] realize that what they’ve learned at byu and in church is very important to their understanding of how to be successful in business.”

—Gary S. Baughman, NAC chair 2007–09

Weldon J. Taylor

2. In the Beginning

In March 1966, Weldon J. Taylor, first dean (1957–74) of the BYU College of Business, placed in the mail thirty-five invitations to serve on the proposed National Advisory Council. Those invited, according to Taylor, “understood the importance of value-centered qualities, insight, [and] integrity.” He received thirty-five affirmative replies, including one from J. Willard Marriott, who would later become the school’s namesake. The college hoped the council would develop a prestige for the school that would influence other business schools and help draw respected faculty members to BYU.

3. The First Gathering

Just over twenty men attended the inaugural NAC conference on 7–8 October 1966. The dates enabled the participants to also attend LDS general conference the weekend prior as well as a football game against Utah State, which BYU dominated 27–7.

Kay Benfell meets with students

4. Spousal Support

The first meeting of the NAC also marks the beginning of the NAC Women’s Committee. First called the NAC Wives Program, it was renamed the NAC Spouses Program before receiving its current name in 2011. Though the committee’s name has changed, its purpose has not; members continue to focus on uplifting, supporting, and instructing each other.

Kay Benfell, chair of the Spouses Program 1982–84, said of her experience: “I formed friendships that have lasted, and I learned solutions and visions for coping with my own rather complex life.”

5. Growing the Council

Recognizing the council’s immediate success, Dean Taylor and the college administration decided to increase the number of members. Every invitation sent was again returned with a positive response, and by August 1967, NAC membership totaled forty-six.

6. New Faith and Vision

At the early conferences, NAC members offered sage advice and direction to the college. Minutes from the November 1967 meetings read: “As a result of the dialogue with these respected men of business, the shackles of the old discipline, resulting in barren academic patterns, were shattered. New faith and vision were born.”

International Executive of the Year Award was given in 1974 to Robert D. Lilley

7. In Recognition

The first iteration of the International Executive of the Year Award was given in 1974 to Robert D. Lilley, president of AT&T. The recognition is designed to honor successful leaders outside of the LDS Church who embody the value-centered philosophy of the school. The awardees—who have also included George Bodenheimer of ESPN and John E. Pepper Jr. of Procter & Gamble—come to campus to speak to students and learn about the ethics and quality of the Marriott School.

Photo: LDS Church Apostle Elder David B. Haight presents the 1990 International Executive of the Year Award to Jacqueline Grennan Wexler, president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

8. Masters in the Business

In May 1975, BYU announced the formation of the Graduate School of Management, which would house the MBA, MPA, and MAcc programs.

“The graduate school of management concept represented more than just a change in name to gain status,” wrote Dean Taylor in his history of the NAC. “It represented a major change in

the way the faculty looked at its task and at the goals of education.

. . . Those who participated in the change saw very clearly that without the counsel, the status with various distinguished networks, and the financial support the National Advisory Council provided, these changes would have been out of reach. The National Advisory Council made it all possible.”

Today the school offers five top-ranked master’s degree programs: MBA, MPA, MAcc, MISM, and MS YFR.

Members working on the new school design

9. Structural Need

Though the college began meeting with the NAC as early as 1970 to discuss the need for a new home, real progress on that project didn’t happen until NAC member Alex Oblad pledged $25,000 to the building fund in July 1975. The original N. Eldon Tanner Building became the first building on campus to be funded entirely by private donations, the majority of which came from NAC members.

10. Call to Fundraise

Prior to Dean Merrill J. Bateman’s tenure (1975–79), the NAC was not expected to donate or fundraise. But as Bateman considered the logistics of constructing a new building, he knew he needed assistance—and that the NAC was right for the job. “We asked them if they would help us raise the funds, and they supported us 100 percent,” he says. Their monetary support has been unfaltering ever since.

11. Alumni Ties

In early 1977, Dean Bateman met with NAC members about strengthening relationships with the school’s alumni and friends. The college was building prominence and autonomy, and Bateman envisioned an organization that would benefit graduates through networking and the college through membership fees and loyalty—becoming “a giving and receiving society.” The Management Society was established later that year.

A 1977 memo (right) from Merrill J. Bateman announces the first Management Society Distinguished Service Award.

Douglas Driggs

12. First-Class Donor Liaison

When Dean Bateman asked the NAC to help fundraise for the Tanner Building, Douglas Driggs stepped forward. Driggs set up weekend meetings with businesspeople he knew around the country and flew to them at his own expense. Then he asked them to commit funds. “He did that for two years, probably for two to three weekends a month,” Bateman says.

In May 1977, Driggs was formally asked by the BYU Board of Trustees to chair the fundraising committee—and to raise $12 million. Working with other NAC members, Driggs obtained the funds.

Louise W. LaCount

13. First Ladies

In September 1977, Louise W. LaCount and Carolyn Dunn Newman became the first women members of the NAC. Today fourteen women are on the NAC.

Photo: Louise W. LaCount

14. A Named Honor

N. Eldon Tanner was an important player in the beginnings of the Marriott School. Counselor to four LDS presidents and himself a businessman, he was the school’s greatest advocate in Salt Lake City. To show their appreciation for Tanner, the NAC made him the first LDS recipient of the International Executive of the Year Award in 1979, and the college chose to name the new building after him.

Dean Taylor wrote: “The faculty and the council were happy with N. Eldon Tanner as the name for the new edifice. His success as a public servant and private developer, and his Church leadership, typified a demeanor of high ethical principles with genuine regard for human dignity. These qualities provide a realistic role model to the school, which nurtures a value-centered philosophy.”

A bust of N. Eldon Tanner sits inside the east entrance of the Tanner Building.

Spencer W. Kimball at the ground breaking for the new building

15. Breaking Ground

In a ceremony presided over by Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Church president 1973–85, ground was broken for the Tanner Building on 8 November 1980.

16. A Permanent Home

The Tanner Building was completed in late 1982 and was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church president 1995–2008, on 5 April 1983.

Among those participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completed Tanner Building were (from left) Ruth Tanner Walker, Gordon B. Hinckley, Isabelle Tanner Jensen, Sara “Sally” Merrill Tanner, Zola Tanner Rhodes, Helen Tanner Beaton, and BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland

Ruth Tanner Walker, Gordon B. Hinckley, Isabelle Tanner Jensen, Sara “Sally” Merrill Tanner, Zola Tanner Rhodes, Helen Tanner Beaton, and BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland at the ribbon cutting

17. A Precedent for Mentoring

On the evening of Thursday, 8 November 1984, a group of NAC members gathered in the Tanner Building for a fireside, beginning the tradition of mentoring students.

18. Funding Educators

In November 1984, NAC members showed their commitment to a strong faculty by voting to fundraise $10 million for professorships. Since that time, the NAC has funded 38 professorships and fellowships, including the NAC Professorship in Management.

Lee Radebaugh, former Whitmore Professor of International Business, teaches a class, ca. 1984.

19. Foreign Aid

Looking for a way to help Church members from outside the United States obtain an education and become strong leaders in their countries and in the Church, Wilford Cardon, Duke Cowley, and several other NAC members created the International Student Scholarship Program in 1986. The program brings international students to BYU and gives them partial tuition and a low-interest loan. Now named the Cardon International Sponsorship (cis) program, it has benefited more than 270 students from around the world.

20. A Chance for More

Nelson Zivic set a goal as a teenager in Argentina to one day attend BYU, but after an economic crisis hit, he knew that leaving the country for school would be impossible. Then the cis program brought him to byu, and he graduated with an MBA in 2009. Zivic, who now works in Mexico as a senior hr director, says, “I want to thank the NAC and cis. Through this program, the Lord is using me to bless the lives of other people.”

News article clipping for the naming of the school after the Marriott's

21. A Prestigious New Name

K. Fred Skousen, dean 1989–98, recalls the time he held a million-dollar check from the Marriott Foundation. “I’d never seen a million-dollar check before,” he says. That money was the first installment of a $15 million pledge that joined the graduate school of business with the college of business, creating the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott School of Management in 1988.

A 28 October 1988 clipping (right) from The Salt Lake Tribune announces the naming of the Marriott School of Management.

22. Annual Giving

In the early 1990s the Marriott School and the NAC agreed that NAC members would contribute at least $1,000 annually. “[The money] was used to help establish scholarships and . . . professorships,” some of which were named for NAC members, says Dean Skousen. Some funds were set aside to create an endowment for perpetual resources, and others contributed to the start of the entrepreneurship program, “which has become one of the top programs in the country for entrepreneurship,” Skousen says.

23. Good Thing Going

When Dean Bateman became the president of BYU in 1996, he knew the value of an advisory council. Using the NAC as a model, he established the President’s Leadership Council to provide guidance and fundraising support for the university. A few familiar faces from the NAC also joined the PLC.

Merrill J. Bateman addresses the NAC as BYU president in 1998.

24. Nontraditional Scholarships

In 1997, several women in the NAC Spouses Program felt they could be doing more, so they established scholarships for single parents returning to school. NAC member Jeff Strong—who, with his wife, Sara, donated a scholarship—says, “When [these single parents] receive that help, the difference in their lives is transformational. They can provide for their families and, in turn, do good things for other people.” NAC members embraced the program, and it became a donation priority. About five single-parent scholarships are granted each year.

25. A Tender Place

After her divorce, Marilee Richins was counseled to return to school. While caring for her four young boys, she earned her bachelor’s degree and began working as a technical writer. She was eventually told she needed a master’s degree to progress, so she applied to BYU’s EMPA program, unsure of how to make it work.

“I said, ‘Heavenly Father, you’ve got to do the rest because I can’t pay for this,’” she remembers. After applying for what she thought was a $600 scholarship, Richins was shocked to receive an email saying not only that she had been chosen for a scholarship but also that it would cover full tuition for the entire program. “I just burst into tears, closed my office door, got down on my knees, and told Heavenly Father how grateful I was,” she says.

Richins, who graduated last June, says the Lord has “a tender place in His heart” for those who parent alone. “His expectations are the same—we have to teach, we have to be strong, we have to parent—but He opens up doorways,” she says. “[The NAC] is the opener of the doors. They don’t just provide financial help; they provide hope, they empower, and they help people like me become self-reliant and find our self-confidence again.”

 NAC members and spouses gather at Fenway Park during the 2011 NAC retreat in Boston.

26. Unifying Getaways

Under Dean Skousen, NAC members traveled to Egypt and Jerusalem in 1997 for the council’s first retreat. Excursions to Peru, Scandinavia, Greece, and elsewhere followed, aimed to educate NAC members and encourage solidarity and friendship. Though international adventures have slowed, the NAC still bonds through smaller, closer trips each year. And they still go on the occasional adventure abroad, such as a cruise down the Rhine River in 2014.

Photo: NAC members and spouses gather at Fenway Park during the 2011 NAC retreat in Boston.

27. Perfect Fit

The NAC has been instrumental in improving recruiting at the Marriott School. NAC members build relationships with companies and then, according to Dean Skousen, the “students sell themselves.” For example, EY, which NAC members brought to campus, now hires more students from BYU than from any other school. “Once a company has had one of the good MBA or MAcc or MPA students, we don’t have to convince them to come back; they come running,” Skousen says.

Tanner building

28. Place for Placement

When the business library moved from the Tanner Building to BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library in 1998, an area on the fourth floor became available. NAC members raised the $1 million necessary to remodel the space as the Business Career Center, which opened on 16 November 2000. For the past four years, the center has boasted a full-time job placement rate of 94 percent or higher.

29. (In)Famous Christmas Cards

Each year, the Marriott School deans send out a fresh, comical, and highly anticipated Christmas card—a concept that was born in 1998 in a meeting with the NAC. According to Ned C. Hill, dean 1998–2008, “The dean’s office asked for ideas that would help management educators, recruiters, and other stakeholders of the school to understand the unique nature of our hardworking, clean-cut, ethical, intelligent, and experienced students.” Now a staple of the Marriott School, the resulting Christmas cards are sent worldwide annually.

Christmas cards

30. A Welcome Gift

While driving a team of accreditors to the airport after their visit to BYU, Dean Hill received a phone call. “Could you use several million dollars to form a center?” the caller asked.

Hill responded, “We could.”

The accreditors were astounded. “Is that how you raise money?” they asked. “People just call you and give you money?”

Over the next few months, Hill worked with nac members Nancy Peery Marriott and her husband, Richard, as well as with Nancy’s brother, Richard Peery, and his wife, Mimi. Together they donated $4 million dollars to form the Peery Institute of Financial Services in honor of their father, H. Taylor Peery. The Peery Institute, founded in 2001, helps place students and supports faculty research within the finance world.

31. Giving Until It Hurt

By 2002 programs and enrollment were growing at a breakneck pace. Though the nineteen-year-old Tanner Building looked as good as new, there simply wasn’t enough space. Recognizing the need for an addition to the building, the Marriott family stepped in with $18 million. Further inquiry, however, made it apparent that another $25 million would be required to complete the project. Several years later, the fundraising goal remained unmet. Sterling Jenson, NAC vice chair in 2007, showed up at a NAC meeting with intentions to donate a certain amount. Upon hearing about the need facing the school, he decided to give ten times what he had originally planned.

“A lot of [members] reached deeper in their pockets and realized, ‘Wow, we’ve got to get this done,’” says Dean Hill. “They [gave] until it hurt.”

Sterling Jenson addresses the NAC in September 2012.

32. Promoting Self-Reliance

Named after Melvin J. Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who championed self-reliance initiatives during the Great Depression, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance assists students and faculty in bringing smart philanthropy to the world. NAC member Robert C. Gay, now an LDS General Authority Seventy, helped fund the center, which opened its doors in 2004.

NAC member Jeff Strong mentors in the classroom in September 2012.

33. Weekly Wisdom

Each Friday, students gather for the NAC Lecture Series, a required course for many management majors. With roots that reach back to 1949, the lectures introduce students to business leaders—many of them NAC members—who teach innovative ideas and important life-management principles.

NAC member Jeff Strong mentors in the classroom in September 2012.

34. Reciprocal Influence

NAC members are a powerful resource for Marriott School students. “The students are amazed to hear from these people who are very experienced and have the [same] values,” says Dean Hill.

NAC members also benefit as they mentor students year-round by mingling in classrooms and participating in Q&A sessions, among other opportunities. “Those are the things that I look forward to the most when I come back on campus,” says NAC member Jeff Strong. “Those students energize me and my colleagues in a big way.”

NAC member speaking to students
NAC member Britt Berrett mentors in the classroom in September 2012.

35. Credible Witnesses

Marriott School finance professor and MBA director Grant McQueen is one of many teachers who regularly invite NAC members into their classes. “If the professor says it or the textbook author writes it, some students are still skeptical,” McQueen says. “However, when a successful NAC member visits class and says the same thing, suddenly the students believe in both the principle and its relevance. NAC members aren’t just role models, donors, and counselors—they are also credible witnesses that the business principles we teach are valuable and relevant.”

More than ninety Cougar Capital alumni, eight industry partners, and seventy-one spouses gathered for a reunion in Washington, DC, in September 2016.

36. Training Students

Cougar Capital, a venture capital and private equity fund run by second-year BYU MBA students, was created in 2005 by Gary Williams, a NAC member who is now a professor in the Marriott School. The students who manage the fund are in high demand when they graduate, thanks to the skills they gain and Williams’s mentorship.

More than ninety Cougar Capital alumni, eight industry partners, and seventy-one spouses gathered for a reunion in Washington, DC, in September 2016.

37. Internship Gold

Several NAC members—including Blake Modersitzki, Young Hong, and Scott St. Clair—have created internships for BYU students within their companies. Since 2005 these internships have given both the students and the Marriott School a leg up.

38. Global Reach

In 2006 the Marriott School’s Global Management Center was named in honor of NAC members Kay and Yvonne Whitmore. Kay, who passed away in 2004, was known for his business acumen and integrity during his thirty-six years with Kodak. Thanks to the support of Yvonne and the Whitmores’ children, the Whitmore Global Management Center continues to train students, faculty, and the local business community in international business.

39. NAC Recruit

Seeking to improve student placement, the Marriott School lured NAC member Kim Smith out of retirement in 2007 to work for what Dean Hill calls “a ridiculously low salary” compared to what Smith earned during his twenty-eight years with Goldman Sachs. Smith, now the managing director of the school’s Peery Institute of Financial Services, leverages his Wall Street contacts to place students with the nation’s top financial institutions.

Construction of addition to the Tanner building

40. new addition

Ground was broken for the Tanner Building addition on 25 April 2007. The four-story, seventy-six-thousand-square-foot structure would connect to the west side of the Tanner Building by pedestrian bridges in a glass atrium and would offer tiered classrooms, team study rooms, an MBA office suite, an assembly hall, and more.

41. Miracle Money

The Great Recession, which began in late 2007, hit the Marriott School hard. Money became so scarce that Gary C. Cornia, dean 2008–13, struggled to finance faculty, staff, and research.

“We went to the NAC,” Cornia says. “They saved this school.”

Even though NAC members were also suffering losses, they sacrificed and went with less to benefit the Marriott School. As a result, no one really knew there was a shortfall. “It was because the NAC stepped up,” Cornia says.

President Thomas S. Monson along with other apostles of the church gathered to dedicate the Tanner Building addition.

42. Dedicated Investment

On 24 October 2008, NAC members and other guests—including LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson—gathered to dedicate the Tanner Building addition.

J. W. Marriott Jr.—who provided the lead gift for the building, along with Richard E. Marriott—spoke. He said: “Several years ago, Ned Hill told me one hundred MBA students were graduating each year, and he said he could double the number if he had more space. I saw an opportunity to develop many more business leaders and particularly future Church leaders. I have a strong belief that these students can make a real difference in the world.”

43. Apostolic Encouragement

After the dedication of the Tanner Building addition, those in attendance celebrated over dinner. Gary Baughman, NAC chair 2007–09, had worked hard to raise money for the building’s construction. He relates, “I can remember asking Elder [Jeffrey] Holland, after I had finished presiding over [the dinner], how I did. He grabbed me by the cheeks, and he said, ‘You did a fantastic job.’”

44. Entrepreneurial Support

Seeing the spread of technology around the world, NAC member Kevin Rollins funded the Marriott School’s eBusiness Center in 2000. In 2009, Rollins—along with several other donors and NAC members—made possible the merger of the eBusiness Center with the BYU Center for Entrepreneurship, forming the Kevin and Debra Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, which mentors students in creating tech and scalable ventures.

Faculty try Google Glass

45. A Boon to Research

Thanks to NAC funding, faculty members are able to travel often to meet with business professionals and to foster connections and academic research. Trips have included a finance faculty visit to New York; a strategy faculty excursion to Dallas; a marketing faculty meeting with Walmart’s leadership in Bentonville, Arkansas; and an information systems faculty journey to the Bay Area, which resulted in several grants from Google to fund cybersecurity research.

46. Club Love

Professional development clubs at the Marriott School provide mentoring, help students network and find jobs, and give NAC members another way to get involved. NAC members often speak at club meetings, and in 2011 the NAC funded an initiative to help offset the costs of career trips to industry hubs.

47. Open Resources

While researching private equity in spring 2014, Keith Vorkink, current associate dean, asked several NAC members in the field for their input. “They gave essential industry insight that helped improve the research project,” he says. The resulting paper by Vorkink and his coauthors is now making waves nationwide, including at the prestigious Western Finance Conference. According to Vorkink, “That paper most likely wouldn’t exist or have the impact it is having if we didn’t have a number of NAC members contribute to the project.”

48. Fiftieth Anniversary Gala

An opulent celebration in the BYU Wilkinson Center Ballroom the evening of 16 September 2016 capped off the NAC 2016 Fall Conference. The festivities included dinner, dancing, and speeches from current NAC executive committee member Richard E. Marriott and current NAC chair Mitch Hill.

NAC member Drew Johnson (left) poses for a selfie with K. Fred Skousen and his wife, Julie, at the NAC 50th Anniversary Gala on 16 September 2016.

“It’s the goal of the NAC to team up with the professors of the Marriott School to provide not only the skills but also the character traits these young men and women need to succeed in this life,” Marriott said. “You, as NAC members, play a major part in that. Your mentoring, your good examples, and your talking to these young men and women and telling them how you’ve been successful is of critical importance to their success.”

“The NAC is a difference maker, and we aspire to help our students become difference makers in the world, which so desperately needs such people,” Hill said. “May God bless and inspire the next fifty years of the NAC as He has during these past fifty years.”

49. Influenced for Good

“The NAC is a treasure. I deeply admire Dean Weldon Taylor’s initial vision, but I can’t imagine that what he and the founding NAC members saw then even remotely resembles the immense shaping power this incredible organization has today. For the past fifty years, NAC members, through their generosity and engagement, have served as transformative role models and elevated the aspiration levels of all BYU Marriott School students.”

—Lee T. Perry, dean 2013–present

NAC50 sign

50. Continuing the Legacy

In the past fifty years, the NAC has made an immeasurable impact on those who have passed through the Tanner Building’s doors. Since the NAC’s beginnings in 1966, more than 46,500 BYU graduates have benefited from the mentorship, connections, and generous financial support of NAC members. As several thousand more students prepare to join the ranks of alumni, the influence of the NAC continues to ensure that the future of the Marriott School is increasingly bright.


Article written by Lena Harper
Contributing Sara Smith Atwood and Katie Olson

About the Author
Lena May Harper edits and writes at BYU. Her projects include the Law School and International Studies magazines and the university’s weekly devotionals. A budding ballerina and a part-time master’s student on the cusp of graduation, Lena lives with a fluffy lionhead rabbit named Willa.

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