Graduates of USD’s Master of Science in Executive Leadership program find they benefit every day from the program in their work and personal lives. This year’s class was so inspired that they wanted to give something back to the program.
Prompted by a suggestion from graduate Doug Burke, senior director of Network Infrastructure Systems and Services at USD, a group of graduates from this year’s 21-member “Lucky 13” cohort began raising money to support the program’s endowed scholarship fund. Earlier this month, the group presented a check for $11,500 to School of Business Administration Dean David Pyke.
“Given how much our cohort felt we received from the program, we wanted to give back to enrich the endowment so that others could benefit from the program as well,” said Kevin Nohelty, vice president of supply chain at WD-40 Company.
“The program has helped me better understand the difference between management and leadership,” Nohelty said. “It helped me become more sensitive to others’ needs and develop better approaches to resolving conflict, inspiring and engaging organizations. And I made 20 life-long friends!”
To raise the funds, MSEL graduates held a “Night of Fun” gala at the University Club in downtown San Diego earlier this fall with a silent and live auction conducted by charity auctioneer Russ T. Nailz and also collected individual and corporate donations. Other graduates who helped organize the fundraising efforts were Robert Dudek, Sonia Farace, Charles Ramos, Lena Rumps, and D.J. Weed.
The 22-month MSEL program, a partnership with The Ken Blanchard Companies, helps executives and managers discover the power they have to create change and make a difference in the world. Designed for experienced professionals and co-taught by professors and active business executives, the program provides interpersonal and business skills that students can apply immediately in their day-to-day lives.
“The program draws executives who are interested in staying at the leading edge of knowledge and best practices to become stronger, more effective leaders,” said Christina De Vaca, MSEL director. “This generous contribution will enable a future student to benefit from the value of the program.”
Established 15 years ago, the program now has approximately 300 graduates from leading firms including Sempra Energy, Qualcomm and Coca-Cola. Graduates include David Pendarvis, CAO and global general counsel of ResMed Inc., Debra Ritchie, president of Amron International Inc. and Tres Conrique, CEO of Rancho Santa Fe Technologies.
Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 was one of the first graduates. WD-40 has sent 19 students to the program including Ridge, Nohelty and Mike Freeman, division president, The Americas.
“We are so grateful to the MSEL students giving back to future students with this generous gift,” Pyke said. “This program powerfully impacts students and this gift is a wonderful tribute to the faculty, their fellow students and our dedicated staff.”
— Liz Harman
Photo: From left to right: Doug Burke, SBA Dean David Pyke, D.J. Weed, Kevin Nohelty, Charles Ramos and Robert Dudek.