In 2006, Roderick P. Hart, dean of the 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.
View Past Recipients by Year:
The Robert C. Jeffrey College Benefactor Awards
Dr. Jeffrey served as dean of the 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 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 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 College.
The award recipients are honored at a "Friends of the College" dinner and given a carved granite statuette as a token of appreciation.
One person described our first honoree as a female version of Harvey Keitel’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s chilling movie, Pulp Fiction. The Keitel character, as you may remember, was a “cleaner,” one who was called in to dispose of the numerous bodies that kept popping up in the film. Rather than being offended by that characterization, our assistant dean for business and technology services took great delight in it, proving that she is just as perverse as she is talented.
Janice Daman is a person with a computer-like memory who likes solving engineering problems but who gushes over that bunch of studs known as the St. Louis Cardinals. She has served as both COO and CFO of this College since 1997, two impossible jobs in their own right and, oh yeah, she took on yet another job 6 years ago when becoming the College’s primary liaison for construction of the Belo Center. In that role, she has logged countless hours in countless meetings and has overseen tens of thousands individual decisions. She dealt with architects, construction foreman, designers, accountants, and 675 layers of U.T. bureaucracy. Janice never wants to see another carpet swatch again.
Janice is a true oxymoron – an MBA with a great eye for architectural form; a person who can pinch a penny harder than a Connecticut Yankee but who will fly to Vegas on a whim to try her hand at blackjack; a tough-minded, bottom-line manager who cares passionately about the people she oversees; one who thinks nothing of asking impertinent questions of her boss but who gets all gushy when showing pictures of her grandchildren; a Coca-Cola addict who knows good wine when she drinks it. If you like simplicity in your women, you don’t want to mess with Janice Daman.
I depend on Janice for seven hundred things a day and she has never failed me, not once. All who love this college are in her debt. I present to you my friend and colleague, Ms. Janice Daman.
I once asked our next honoree if there was any lame joke to which he would not stoop and he said no. On another occasion, I asked him if there was any emotional appeal he would not employ when raising money and, again, he said no. In an attempt to salvage some element of respect for the man, I stopped asking him such questions.
Some years ago, the manager of WBST in Muncie, Indiana fired David Letterman and hired Stewart Vanderwilt. At least the manager of WBST was only half-stupid. Now, I like to think of myself as having a pretty good imagination, but it is hard for me to imagine – no, it is impossible for me to imagine – a better director of a public media enterprise than Stewart Vanderwilt.
I’m told that the Matsutake mushroom is the most treasured white truffle in the world. KUT has been our Matsutake mushroom for many years, a beloved station hidden in the underground recesses of the CMB building. Because of Stewart Vanderwilt – and a few thousand of his closest friends – all that has changed and KUT is now ensconced for all to see on the corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton.
During the past several years, Stewart has raised $11 million to build the KUT Public Media Studios, even while managing its day-to-day operations and overseeing its twice-a-year fund drives to ensure that his employees keep getting paychecks. Since becoming manager, Stewart has increased KUT’s listenership by three-fold and also won three coveted Edward R. Murrow awards. More recently, he figured a way to split KUT into two stations – one all-news and the other all-music – which required even more fund-raising.
But Stewart is more than a fund-raiser. He is a visionary, a man with the foresight to see what others could not see and then to bring it to life. Stewart only takes on big challenges, and the result is that KUT is now woven into the fabric of Austin, tying together its music, culture, and politics in a way never before imagined. Never imagined, that is, except by its manager, our very own Mr. Stewart Vanderwilt.
You really have to be Irish to understand our next honoree because he is, in reality, a leprechaun. I am a Boston Irishman so I have the credentials needed to spot such critters. Leprechauns, as you may remember, are exceedingly generous but they don’t want anyone to know it. So they do all their giving at night and, if you happen to catch them, they have the power to turn you into a frog.
Jim Moroney of Dallas is one such leprechaun, but he has never fooled me, not once. I knew from the moment I first saw his mischievous grin that he was a good and generous person who liked prowling around in the shadows doing good and trying not to be caught by the toe.
Those of you who aren’t Irish may not know these things. You may think of Jim as the publisher of The Dallas Morning News and chairman of the Newspaper Association of America. You may remember him as one who frequently testifies on behalf of the newspaper industry at Congressional hearings in Washington. Or you may recall his efforts to take on the digital revolution and make his paper a pioneer in the disruptive space of the new, digital media.
Jim Moroney is all of these things as well as a devoted husband and the father of five wonderful children. Jim has served loyally on our College’s advisory board and has helped underwrite our annual International Symposium on Online Journalism as well. Most important, he was one of the earliest supporters of our magnificent new Belo Center and he worked live the devil to make it a reality.
But here is something almost nobody knows: It was Jim Moroney who flew to New York City on his own dime several years ago to introduce me to his major competitor – George Irish of the Hearst Corporation – to help me make the case for refurbishing the Texas Student Media facility, now known as the William Randolph Hearst Building. Jim Moroney didn’t have to do that and he didn’t have to serve as my trusted confidante for the past nine years. Except for one reason: He knew that I knew he was a leprechaun. I present to you our very own pot of gold, Mr. Jim Moroney.
When growing up in Greenville, Texas, James Huffines sacked groceries, pumped gas, and drove a tractor. But two high school experiences were transformative for him: he worked as a bank teller and joined a youth-in-government program. His career was shaped by those impulses – banking and public service – but a third impulse later in life was equally important for us: he helped build the Belo Center for New Media.
After earning a degree in finance from U.T. in 1973, James worked for Republic National Bank in Dallas and later for PlainsCapital, where he rose through the ranks and now serves as president. But he took frequent sabbaticals from banking, working for Governor Bill Clements on two occasions in the 1980s. Loitering around the Capital as he did, he met Rick Perry who, in 2003, appointed him to the U.T. System Board of Regents, where he served for 7½ years. During that time, James oversaw 15 campuses, more than 200,000 students, and a $12 billion annual operating budget.
So James is a public man but there is also something odd about him: he is strikingly humble, one who seeks to do good but who has no need for the spotlight. Because of his humility, people behave better in his presence. James is also a big thinker whose influence continues to be felt. Perhaps that’s because, as current Regent Steve Hicks says, “James still calls with instructions.”
A dedicated father of three (including our very own Victoria), James loves mountain-climbing, a hobby his wife Patty mostly supports. The two of them traveled to Mount Everest, spending 14 days in a tent. After that, James promised Patty he’d never enter a tent again. But he broke that promise on March 25, 2010, when he spoke at our ground-breaking ceremony for the Belo Center held on the F-27 parking lot two blocks from here.
We asked James to speak then because his powers of persuasion had caused the Board of Regents to become co-investors in our building. Characteristically, James took no credit for that, identifying everyone else as the building’s champion. But we professors are wise, and can spot a fine man even when shrouded by the thick wrappings of humility. James Huffines is a true friend of this College and he can call us with instructions anytime he wants. Mr. James Huffines.
Perhaps it’s possible to adequately say what Bill Powers means to this University but I’m not sure I can scale those rhetorical heights. He is, quite simply, the best university president in the United States. As we say in Texas, that’s all fact, no brag. Without his direct and personal assistance, the Belo Center for New Media would not be standing a few blocks away from us this evening. Without his personal support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be standing here either. He is a faculty member’s dream, this president, and a nightmare to those who should have nightmares visited upon them.
It has been said that no matter who you are, Bill Powers can find a way to relate to you. If you’re a veteran, Bill will tell you about his Navy service. If you’re a jock, he’ll talk sports with you. If you’re a hippie, he’ll tell you he was at Berkeley in the ‘60s. In part this is because Bill is so affable and in part it’s because he’s so smart. He can talk politics and philosophy, mathematics and physics, literature and 19th century art. Bill Powers is a scholar, yes, but he’s also an intellectual of the first order.
A native of Los Angeles, Bill studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, served in the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf, and later attended Harvard Law School, becoming managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. However, his most important chapter began when he came to U.T. in 1977, where he became a member of our Academy of Distinguished Teachers, served as dean of the Law School, and where later – as President – became the University’s liaison to the State and the nation. For the last six years, Bill Powers has championed its interests, been vigilant in its defense, and kept it a world-class institution.
In the history of American oratory, it was not uncommon for people like Henry Clay and William Jennings Bryant to speak for three or four hours when they had something important to say. Audiences listened to them avidly, often spellbound – and often drunk – when doing so. I could easily spend three or four hours tonight telling you how wonderful our president is but I shall try neither your patience nor your livers. Just trust me: Bill Powers is as fine a man as can be found. His magnificence deprives me of words. President Bill Powers.