Newly Named Canfield Business Honors Program Recognizes Generous Alumnus

Written by Kylie Fitzpatrick

Phil Canfield drew on his UT business knowledge to become a successful private equity investor. Now, he’s investing in the university that helped launch his career, making a generous multimillion-dollar gift to advance the Business Honors Program at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

Canfield, managing director at the private equity firm GTCR in Chicago, and his wife Mary Beth are giving the program $20 million. In their honor, it will be renamed the Canfield Business Honors Program.

“We both believe if you’re helping education and you’re helping people get access to education, that is the single highest leverage and best ROI investment you can make philanthropically,” Canfield said.

A Texas native and 1989 Business Honors graduate, Canfield has been deeply reflective and thoughtful about the decision to make the gift. He says it’s his way of showing gratitude to the university for the substantive education he received.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been in that program,” Canfield said. “It launched what’s been a really fun and successful investment career, and in many ways, I feel like it’s a dividend back to the school for the investment that the school made in me back then.”

The gift will provide full-tuition scholarships, improve recruitment of the brightest and best students, increase the national reputation of Business Honors and help boost and broaden program offerings and student resources.

“In order to make a gift like this, you have to have confidence in the leadership,” Canfield said. “My conversations with Dean Hartzell give me faith and trust in his vision for the program and his ability to execute. My confidence is very high.”

Canfield says one of his defining moments in deciding to make the gift was when he returned to campus three years ago as a parent of a prospective Business Honors student.

“It made me realize two things,” Canfield said. “First, for as great as I thought the program was when I was here, it’s 100 percent better now. Second, it’s the best undergraduate business education in the country and world, but it’s not broadly recognized at the national level, so part of what I want to do is elevate the status of BHP.”

“Phil and Mary Beth’s transformative gift will take McCombs’ outstanding Business Honors Program to new heights, and they’ll provide greater opportunity for business students to come to UT, pursue their dreams and make vital contributions,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of the university. “The Canfields’ gift will change the game for the McCombs School of Business. And, for future UT students, it will also be a life-changer.”

We are thrilled and grateful to the Canfields for their investment in our honors program. Their generosity will allow us to improve what is already an amazing program, and to ensure that we will always provide our students with the education, exposure and community they need to become excellent leaders in business and society,” said Dean Jay Hartzell. “I also firmly believe that this investment will make a material difference — not only in the honors program, but also in the broader community, increasing our national reputation and the impact of our school and university.”

The Canfields’ gift will not only assist UT Business Honors students, it will also leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

“Mary Beth and I try very hard, in all the organizations and all the communities we’re involved with, to lead by example and do it with kindness and humility,” Canfield said.

Leadership Kickoff and Sophomore Social Co-Chair Applications Being Accepted

The BHP office is currently taking applications for the roles of Leadership Kickoff Co-Chair and Sophomore Social Co-Chair (as well as other positions). These positions are essential to the program and a great way to get more involved, gain skills and help others! Read more about the experiences of the fall 2015 Kickoff co-chairs, Kate Shanks and Michelle Zhang, as well as Maya Josiam’s experience as one of the Sophomore Social co-chairs. Applications for these positions are due Friday, March 11 to the BHP office no later than 5 pm. Check your email for an application.

LKcochairs2015 Leadership Kickoff Co-Chairs – Kate Shanks and Michelle Zhang

Why did you apply to be a co-chair?

Kate: I heard about the position from one of the co-chairs from the year before; she loved the experience, which made me look into it. As I learned more, I really wanted to add more social events in the schedule of the weekend to encourage more bonding.

Michelle: I think first impressions are an incredibly important factor for pretty much ANYTHING, and I wanted the Class of 2019’s first impression of BHP to be nothing but amazing.

What have you gained/valued from the experience?

Kate: I know how to make jello now.

Michelle: Same. Also we know who our perfect team counterparts are, because it’s each other. (I’m the creative, experience-focused one, and Kate is the logistic, practical one.)

Why (or to whom) would you recommend applying for this position?

Kate: I would recommend other students apply to be kickoff co-chair because it’s an incredible way to have an impact on the BHP experience of an entire entering class. Also your co might become one of your favorite people.

Michelle: If you have good organizational skills and genuinely want to provide a great introductory experience for the incoming freshmen, I would for sure recommend applying. Even if you’ve never planned an event like this but you have some great ideas – do it!


2015 Sophomore Social Co-Chair – Maya Josiam

MayaWhy did you apply to be Sophomore Social Co-Chair?

I applied to be a co-chair because I wanted to get to know the members of my own class better while organizing a fun event. Sophomore Social is a great event to introduce people to each other and create friendships that may not have time to form in just a classroom setting. I am a big proponent of party games, and the Sophomore Social was a chance to put together a big social just for the sophomore class to reconnect and get to know the new transfers too.

Why (or to whom) would you recommend applying for this position?

I would recommend applying for Sophomore Social Co-Chair to anyone who likes planning fun events and wants to get to know the sophomore class (and office staff) better. If you like party games, planning hangouts, or working with fun-loving people to create a relaxed event, this is the position for you!

What have you gained/valued from the experience?

I gained valuable event planning experience like learning how to market an event and set up a timeline. Also, I learned how to improvise and delegate on the fly, which was a great learning experience in a relatively relaxed environment. I really valued being able to create an event that brought my class closer and work with the awesome staff and my co-chair, Katie, to put this event together.

BHP Senior Takes First Place in Case Competition While Studying Abroad

Josh_profileBHP senior, Josh Hu, was recently awarded the Barbara Jordan Senior Award, which honors two graduating seniors whose outstanding motivation has left a lasting legacy at McCombs. He also received a BHP Outstanding Student Award, chosen by BHP faculty, staff and peers.

Josh spent last semester studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. While he was there, he had many unique and memorable experiences, including participating in an international case competition, which his group actually ended up winning.

joshscotlandHu was taking a Financial Services Marketing Class in Edinburgh that challenged students to find a solution to a case presented by TESCO Bank. The class was split up into groups of four and the situation became even more unique because Hu, the only McCombs student in the class, was paired with other exchange students from around the world including: Hong Kong, England and Scotland.

An executive from TESCO Bank asked the groups to come up with a mobile banking app for clients to access account information at their own convenience. There was a lot of freedom and flexibility with this project and the students were told to use both research they could find as well as research they would conduct themselves.

Many banks in the U.S. now offer mobile banking applications, so Hu started his research in the states, “I was surprised to find that the states are actually very technologically ahead in terms of innovation and new ideas for banking,” said Hu. Through his research, he was able to bring a lot of ideas to his group, like mobile check deposits.

JoshProjectHu’s group put together consumer focus groups to gauge what consumers valued, liked and disliked, “Using feedback from the focus groups, we found that the number one reason people aren’t using mobile banking apps is fear that there’s a lack of privacy,” said Hu. The group used this information in their final presentation to emphasize the safety of the app to the consumer. The combination of new, innovative features and making sure the app is secure to use, won the competition.

“Going abroad was a chance for me to be an ambassador for my school,” he said. “The perceptions of Americans aren’t always positive while abroad so I thought of it as I’m representing my school, and the students at McCombs are great, and I wanted to show them that and that I had a lot to contribute to the group.”

Hu is back on the 40 Acres now. His group’s proposal for the new application was presented to TESCO executives in February and was very well received. Each group member will receive a new tablet for their winning idea.

After graduating from the program in May, Hu will stay another year to complete his MPA degree. Before finding a job, Hu plans to travel around Asia.

BHP Freshman Pioneers Innovative High School Tutoring Program


BHP freshman, Anisha Srivastava, started a unique mentoring program this year called Project Activate. The program is designed to bring college students and high school students together for tutoring. A group of UT freshmen including students from BHP and Plan II honors will be selected each year to pair with a group of high school freshmen at local Austin high schools. Each high school student in the program will receive one-on-one tutoring from a UT student in five subjects including: algebra, biology, English, geography and geometry.

The program officially launched on March 19 with a group of high school students that were recommended for the program by their teachers. “It’s started smaller than we hoped with nine high school students total, but I’m so happy to get started even if it is a smaller start than we hoped for,” said Anisha. “Despite the small group, it went really well. The students reacted so positively and I think we’re really going to have some great results!”

Anisha hopes her program will go beyond just tutoring, “I want to make this program different from other tutoring programs by adding a mentoring aspect,” she said. “The tutor and high school student will progress through their four years together, all the way through to graduation.” She is hopeful that the narrow age gap between tutors and students will prove effective. “We just went through this process of learning the material and we remember having to make the same connections they’re having to make right now to make the material make sense,” said Anisha. “In addition to teaching the material, the tutors are teaching them how to learn something.”

The idea behind Project Activate is to activate the potential in students. The big focus for Anisha is on activating intellectual interest, goals, career aspirations and creative thought. “The idea that you can succeed,” she said.

The idea for Project Activate stemmed from a non-profit organization Anisha co-founded with her twin brother, Arjun Srivastava who is also a Plan II Honors student studying business and pre-med. The duo started goMAD (Make A Difference) during high school in Allen, TX. This organization raised $10K in its first year for a home in India that cares for 40 HIV positive children. “Fundraising for an international cause started to feel impersonal,” said Anisha. “So, Project Activate is my way of expanding the idea of goMAD by practicing philanthropy at the local level.”

Success of the program has already spread to other school in the Ausitn Independent School District; Anisha recently met with another local high school interested in implementing the program at their school.

Looking ahead to the future of Project Activate, Anisha hopes to continue to recruit BHP and Plan II freshmen to grow the program and connect with more high school students, “MY BHP peers are some of the brightest and most passionate people I have ever met,” said Anisha. “I know that each BHP student involved in Project Activate will go above and beyond to help the high school students achieve their absolute best.”

BHP and Plan II students interested in getting involved with Project Activate should email Anisha directly to discuss the program.




BHP Students Collaborate With McCombs Faculty on Research

Throughout their four years at UT, McCombs students are presented with multiple opportunities to enhance their skill sets and expand their knowledge. For students interested in research, one of these opportunities is working with a professor as a research assistant.

Research rankingThe McCombs faculty was recently named the no. 5 most productive in the world for research in the 2014 release of the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management’s Top 100 Business School Research Rankings.

BHP students have taken advantage of the research opportunities at McCombs and have partnered with McCombs faculty and visiting scholars to not only learn more about their industry of choice, but to take part in the discovery process of expanding and improving that industry. Angela Morisette, Aaryaman Singhal and Jane Tedjajuwana are three BHP students conducting research with McCombs professors this semester.


AngelaBHP and Marketing major, Angela Morisette, is collaborating with Jade DeKinder, an assistant professor of marketing in the program. The two are researching the stages of an initial public offering (IPO), where shares of stock in a company are sold to the public for the first time, and what factors contribute to a company’s valuation in advance of an IPO.

The research findings will be useful to Morisette this summer as she interns with machinery and equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar Inc. She plans to work in corporate marketing after graduation and feels her research background will have prepared her to appreciate the process that goes into interpreting big data and the complications that can arise.

“My experience with Dr. DeKinder has shown me that the starting point is often at the most basic level. You just have to ask and you can’t be afraid,” said Morisette. “If you think a professor is really cool or if you think the research they do is really awesome, all you have to do is ask to be involved, and you never know where that can go.”


AaryamanAaryaman Singhal is currently working with management professor, Ethan Burris, investigating how employees should frame their ideas when selling them to their managers. Professor Burris and Singhal are looking at how framing the voice in a promotive fashion (focusing on new ideas) or prohibitive fashion (focusing on problems that need to be stopped) can impact how managers evaluate the quality and viability of those ideas, and ultimately determine which ideas make it from inception to implementation.

“I chose to participate in research because I enjoy learning from the research and being a part of the discovery process,” said Singhal. “I feel that I learn as much from research as from class and what I learn from research is on the cutting edge of what we know about people today. Through our research we learn more about how people think and operate in the world around them. It’s exciting to be making the new discoveries with regards to how humans behave.”


janeBHP and Finance major, Jane Tedjajuwana, is collaborating with a visiting scholar and researcher from Sweden, Lisen Selander, and Information, Risk, and, Operations Management professor, Sirkka Jarvenpaa. The trio is researching digital activism and civic engagement at Amnesty International. As social media has made it easier for everyone to engage in civic causes, it has also created tension between activism based on long-term organizational memberships and a growing individualization focused on single causes in short-term forms. The project is in the early stage of data collection, both qualitative and quantitative.

Their research allows for Amnesty International, the world’s best-known incumbent in political activism, to understand the challenges in balancing the volatile nature of digital activism with sustained political engagement.

“I first learned about research opportunities available to McCombs students through an info session,” said Tedjajuwana. “One thing I really liked was the fact that research projects focus on a very specific topic, but explore it much more in-depth than undergraduate classes do.”


Current BHP students interested in becoming a research assistant should connect with a faculty member whose research you find intriguing. Professors generally select students they’ve had in class or currently have in class as they often review their own research throughout the course.

Incoming students should consider joining the research-based First-Year Interest Group (FIG). The research FIG is designed specifically for freshmen of the program and meets weekly throughout the fall semester to discuss the importance of research and how to get involved in research at UT.