November 18, 2013

Neeley School Celebrates 75 Years with Homage to the Past and a Glimpse of the Future

How do you celebrate 75 years of business not as usual? With two years of events and initiatives leading up to a spectacular gala that honored the past, then fast-forwarded to give us a glimpse of the Neeley School of the future.  

More than 600 people gathered at the Renaissance Worthington hotel in downtown Fort Worth to celebrate at the Neeley School’s Diamonds & Ice 75th anniversary gala.

gala entryThe evening began with a networking and cocktail hour featuring giant photographs from the Neeley School’s past, actors dressed in ’40s and ’50s attire, retro lighting and décor, and big band tunes from Trey and the Tritones. Signature drinks included the Tandy-tini, Dan-hattan and Diamond.

At 7:30, guests received a text message notifying them that the gala was beginning.

The doors opened to the ballroom featuring brilliant high-definition screens that covered an entire wall. Purple and silver diamonds and ice cubes cascaded across the giant screens as Neil Diamond’s “Headed to the Future” played. A countdown proceeded as guests found their seats.

Following a video of Bob McCann (MBA ’82), CEO of UBS Americas, welcoming guests on behalf of the gala host committee, three Neeley students blessed the evening in Spanish (Jose Acevedo), Korean (John Kim) and English (Logan Webb).

gala tablesA hologram of M. J. Neeley, namesake of the business school, appeared to reflect on the past and chat with Dean Homer Erekson about the future.

“Mr. Neeley, I can’t tell you what an honor this is. What a blast from the past!” Erekson said from the stage.

After dinner, Dean Erekson announced the proceeds of the Neeley Heritage Scholarship, begun two years ago with $150,000 in proceeds from the 75th anniversary kickoff celebration, now exceeding $300,000. He also recognized the gala committee and sponsors for the evening’s event.

The gala then recognized the 2013 Alumni Business of the Year, Calloway’s Nursery, a 16-store gardening chain led by founder and president Jim Estill (BBA ’69 MBA ’77).

After dessert, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England (MBA ’75) came to the stage to present the Bob Bolen Civic Leadership Award to Matt Rose, chairman and CEO of BNSF Railway. Rose’s wife Lisa accepted the award on his behalf, since he could not attend.

gala kidsThe wall of screens then flashed with Neeley alumni, faculty and staff singing the signature tune, “Headed for the Future” in a virtual choir, followed by videos from the Purple Ball Pit contest, and congratulatory messages from Chancellor Boschini and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (BBA ’10).

The evening ended with several children walking among the crowd as plans for the future space for the Neeley School flashed across the screens. The children, wearing purple T-shirts with their TCU graduation dates, took the stage as Future Frogs and texted the audience their thanks for supporting the future of the Neeley School of Business at TCU.

“The 75th Anniversary Gala was such a marvelous occasion for our faculty, staff, students, alumni and other friends to share in the celebration of 75 years of excellence as we look toward an even better future,” Erekson noted.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Amethyst Sponsor: BNSF Railway. Emerald Sponsors: Luther King Capital Management; Linda and Jim Ryffel. Sapphire Sponsors: 360 West, Bank of America, Marilyn and Mike Berry, Cannon Design, Fort Worth Business Press, Nancy T. Richards Family, Roach Foundation. Other Sponsors: ABox, Bank of Texas, Ben E. Keith Company, Calloway’s Nursery, Coors Distributing Company of Fort Worth, Cowtown Angels, Crescent Real Estate Equities LLC, EMBA Class of 2013, Dotty and Gordon England, Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, Frost, GCG Marketing, IFC Benefit Solutions, Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Lockheed Martin, Margaret and Bill Poteet, McNamara Purcell Foundation, Powerhouse Retail Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company. 

Click here to see photos from the gala.